Governments revert to type in Bangkok climate negotiations

Officials devote UN climate conference to debating future meeting agendas

Christiana Figueres meets Southeast Asia climate activists. Courtesy of Oxfam GB East Asia. Roengchai Kongmuang/GreenpeaceGovernment officials meeting in Bangkok this week have failed to build on progress made at December's UN conference in Cancún on financial, technological and capacity-building mechanisms for adaptation and mitigation (ENDS Report, December 2010) . Instead they reverted to old habits, spending days debating meeting agendas.

But UN climate chief Christiana Figueres insisted the outcome was positive, with negotiators agreeing on agendas for forthcoming meetings. This means they will be able to start talking about real issues straightaway at their next June meeting in Bonn, she said.

The main divide was between developed countries, which are generally keen to move ahead on the Cancún agreements, and developing country delegates who insist the focus should be on a global climate goal and other measures agreed in Bali. It now seems that both approaches will remain on the agenda.

One of the main unresolved issues in Cancún, agreeing a second Kyoto commitment period, also remains wide open. NGOs believe continued UN-level progress on climate depends on the EU adopting further binding CO2 reduction targets under Kyoto even if other current participants opt out. Some, including Japan, have rejected post-2012 targets.

The EU would probably be joined by accession states, other European countries such as Norway and Switzerland, New Zealand and possibly Australia, said Wendel Trio of Greenpeace International. The agreement would only capture a limited slice of global emissions, but would still have symbolic significance, he said.

But this idea was rejected by European Commission negotiator Artur Runge-Metzger. Without commitments from other developed countries, the global temperature rise will not be kept within the 2°C agreed in Cancún, he pointed out on Friday.

The official reiterated the EU's promise to take on deeper targets only if there are equivalent commitments from other nations. Ideally this would be under Kyoto, but the bloc is open-minded about the exact nature of the agreement, he said.

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