Bangkok talks face climate funding stand-off
- Published on Wednesday, 29 August 2012 10:22
- Posted by Vicki Mitchem
International climate change talks will kick off in Bangkok tomorrow with diplomats hopeful the wide-ranging meeting can revitalise negotiations ahead of the UN's annual climate summit in Qatar at the end of the year.
Observers are increasingly concerned the UN-backed talks have made scant progress since an agreement was brokered at last year's Durban Summit, committing countries to the extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the development of a new negotiating roadmap designed to agree a binding international climate change treaty by 2015 that would come into force at the end of the decade.
The deal, dubbed the Durban Platform, was hailed by a major breakthrough by diplomats, despite concerns from green NGOs that it fails to go far enough to tackle rising greenhouse gas emissions.
But the subsequent meeting in Bonn in May was marred by repeated stand-offs over the new roadmap and ended with accusations some countries were attempting to "backtrack" on commitments made in Durban.
Plans to launch a new Green Climate Fund, also agreed in Durban, have faced similar delays, with the group tasked with developing and managing the fund only meeting for the first time earlier this month.
Funding is again expected to dominate this week's talks in Thailand with developing countries poised to increase pressure on industrialised nations to renew climate funding pledges that are due to expire at the end of the year.
"In Bangkok, governments will be forced to focus on the fact that at this stage no new money has been pledged for climate finance in 2013 and that up to 90 per cent of the finance provided in 2010-2012 has simply been pre-existing foreign aid repackaged," green NGO WWF said in a media statement.
Rich nations are reluctant to make significant new funding pledges given the current budget deficits faced by many industrialised countries, but developing countries and campaign groups are angry that emission reduction and climate adaptation programmes could face severe budget cuts from next year, despite previous commitments to deliver up to $100bn a year of climate funding from 2020.
The likely stand-off has the potential to delay important parallel negotiations on how to finalise the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol – which has to be agreed by the end of the year if the legally-binding treaty is not to lapse – and the roadmap for agreeing a new international treaty by 2015.
The summit comes as scientists reported that Arctic sea ice had reached its lowest levels since satellite records began, sparking fresh fears that runaway warming is under way in the Arctic region, causing potentially massive disruption to global climate patterns.
"These figures are not the result of some freak of nature but the effects of man-made global warming caused by our reliance on dirty fossil fuels," John Sauven, the Greenpeace UK director, told the Guardian newspaper.
"These preliminary figures provide irrefutable evidence that greenhouse gas emissions leading to global warming are damaging one of the planet's critical environments, one that helps maintain the stability of the global climate for every citizen of the world."