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NEWS: Pre-Durban climate talks fail

Agence France Presse reports, “UN-led talks in Bangkok (have) eked out an agreement on an agenda for further negotiations this year. …The four-day session in Bangkok, which was marked by feuds between wealthy and developing countries, eventually achieved its goal of setting an agenda leading up to an annual UN climate conference in South Africa in November. …But the Bangkok talks largely put aside big picture issues on how nations will cut their greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming.”

The Associated Press adds, “Delegates from around the globe spent five days talking about what they will talk about at a year-end conference in South Africa. They agreed to talk about their opposing viewpoints. …The UN meeting in Bangkok, which concluded late Friday after delegates cobbled together a broad agenda for the December summit, failed to narrow the deep divisions between the developing world and the camp of industrialized nations led by the United States. These may come to plague the summit in Durban.”

“Developing nations, pointing to the industrialized world as the main culprit behind global warning, want an international treaty that would legally bind countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Washington and others reject it, focusing instead on building on the modest decisions made at last December’s summit in Cancun, Mexico. The Durban agenda calls for discussion on both viewpoints.”

“Developing countries are keen to preserve the landmark 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the only international existing agreement on reducing emissions. It is expiring at the end of 2012 and some countries, including Russia and Japan, have signaled that they would not make further pledges under an extended protocol. The European Union is undecided and the United States, which rejected Kyoto, favors each country setting its own targets for emissions but has not ruled out an international pact if all major economies, including China, now the world’s no. 1 emitter, are parties.”

“Although the Bangkok conference was not geared to tackle the core issues, some movement was at least expected in implementing decisions reached at Cancun. These included the formation of a multibillion-dollar Green Climate Fund to aid developing nations obtain clean-energy technology, setting up a global structure for these nations to obtain patented technology for clean energy and climate adaptation and rounding out a plan to compensate poorer nations for protecting their climate-friendly forests. Some deadlines for accomplishing these have already passed and it appears little of substance was accomplished in Bangkok, with that work being passed on to the next meeting set for June in Bonn, Germany.”

“Although also not a pledging session, there was no indication that nations were prepared, in U.N. parlance, to ‘raise their ambitions’, or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases above earlier pledges. The current total pledges are deemed by the United Nations to fall way short of cuts required to keep temperatures rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels — an agreement reached in Cancun by 193 countries. …Pablo Solon, the Bolivian delegate, said that even reaching the 2-degree goal would prove ‘unsafe for millions of lives and livelihoods across the world’. Citing figures from the U.N. and Stockholm Environment Institute, he said that to meet even that target, the world would need to cut emissions by 14 gigatons each year by 2020. At best, he said, countries currently have pledged to reduce emissions by 8.7 gigatons, at worst 6.6 gigatons with more of the pledges coming from the developing rather than industrialized world.”

The next major Conference of Parties climate summit will take place in Durban, South Africa, from November 28 to December 9, 2011.