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Bangkok Climate Talks on Wrong Track

Throughout this week there are preparatory meetings taking place in Bangkok, Thailand in the lead up to the next major round of climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, November 28 to December 9.

Reports from the negotiations indicate that talks are continuing along the same lines that the Council of Canadians, alongside numerous other organizations, were critical of in Cancun, Mexico this past December. It appears that the negotiations are on track towards a system of emission reductions that will not avert a climate crisis and could lead the world to around 5 degrees Celsius of average global warming.

There remains a divide amongst Global North and South countries over the future of the Kyoto Protocol. While the Council is critical of the carbon trading and carbon offsets enabled under Kyoto Protocol, we recognized in Cancun the importance of developed countries agreeing to a second commitment period.  This commitment period means countries are held accountable to an emission reduction target.

We were critical in Cancun when Canada, alongside Japan and Russia indicated that they were not willing to sign on to the second commitment period, effectively helping to kill Kyoto. Instead, a voluntary pledge and review system was, and continues to be pushed as a replacement to the binding obligations under a second commitment period.

This debate is continuing to unfold in Bangkok.

As reported in the Associated Press, “Delegates from a diverse range of developing countries, including China, Tuvalu, Egypt and Venezuela, insisted that rich nations must commit to a second phase of emission reduction commitments at the Durban summit. The Australian and Japanese delegates, meanwhile, reiterated their countries’ positions that all big polluters should have to commit to cutting emissions. The debate has increased the likelihood of the Kyoto Protocol commitments expiring with only a framework of non-legally binding pledges from most developed and developing countries to fill the void.”

As reported by the media, a group of climate justice activists from Thailand, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, the Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia and Africa were protesting outside the venue of the UN climate talks, carrying a huge effigy of Uncle Sam symbolizing how the United States and other developed countries are dominating the climate talks. “The Annex I countries [developed countries], especially the U.S., are responsible for the mess because the climate crisis has been created by them. And they are refusing to do anything about it. They should pay for it and should ensure the emission will be cut down,” says Willy D’Costa of the Indian Social Action Forum ( INSAF), a member of Jubilee South-Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JSAPMDD).

For detailed analyses of countries positions, the divide between Global North and South countries over needed emission reductions and related responsibilities, refer to the Third World Network’s Bangkok talks news updates.

I will continue to monitor and respond to the talks and civil society actions throughout the week.

In the lead up to these talks, the Council of Canadians joined international civil society organizations in sending a letter to Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change regarding the role of the World Bank as an interim trustee to the Green Climate Fund. The letter clearly objects to this role of the World Bank and recommends important limits on this interim role. You can read the letter here.