U.N. touts climate change talks progress

Sept. 6, 2012 at 1:25 PM
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BANGKOK, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- The United Nations said progress was made at the latest climate talks in Bangkok.

The talks, which concluded Wednesday, were intended to prepare the way for major climate change meetings Nov. 26-Dec 7, in Doha, Qatar.

"There are still some tough political decisions ahead but we now have a positive momentum and a greater sense of convergence that will stimulate higher-level political discussions ahead of Doha and set a faster pace of work once this year's conference begins," Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, said in a statement Wednesday.

Major topics covered in the Bangkok meeting included extending and amending the 1997 greenhouse-gas limiting Kyoto Protocol and delivering a road map for a new legally binding climate treaty, which is to be agreed upon by 2015 and go into effect by 2020.

The United Nations said specific objectives for Doha were set at the Bangkok meeting. Among the goals is triggering a new phase of climate action and filling in the gaps in the international policy response to climate change.

Progress was also made, the United Nations says, in areas including the financing mechanism to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and identifying points in which negotiating groups might require additional decisions to reach an agreement in Doha.

But many observers say the Bangkok talks produced few concrete results.

None of the 190 nations participating in the talks made a fresh commitment regarding emissions, reports Energy and Environment Management News, adding that U.S. negotiators "stunned" delegates when they called for any new climate treaty to be "flexible" and "dynamic" rather than legally binding.

The Union of Concerned Scientists said that while progress was made in Bangkok, "big differences must be resolved in the next few months if countries are going to keep their promises to effectively deal with climate change."

"Countries should work to ensure that the Doha climate summit delivers real progress, and restores momentum to our collective efforts to limit climate change," UCS Director of Strategy and Policy Alden Meyer said in a statement.

"This isn't Las Vegas. What happens in Doha won't stay in Doha -- a failure to act would negatively affect people, economies and ecosystems all over the world," Meyer said.

During the meeting, the United Nations released a report stating that a number of rich nations, including the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Africa and South Korea wouldn't meet pledges made at Copenhagen in 2009 to cut greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade.

Even if all nations meet existing pledges, the report says, greenhouse gas emissions will reach 50 billion-55 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, or 20 percent in excess of the level needed to try to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius.

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