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Updated: September 28, 2009 14:12 IST

Climate talks start with Copenhagen clock ticking

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The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Yvo de Boer, addresses the opening session of the U.N. climate change talks on Sept. 28, 2009, in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: AP
AP The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Yvo de Boer, addresses the opening session of the U.N. climate change talks on Sept. 28, 2009, in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: AP

United Nations climate change talks kicked off in Bangkok on Monday with reminders that time is quickly running out for finalising a new climate deal in Copenhagen in December.

“Time is not pressing, it has almost run out,” said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Some 4,000 participants and observers met in Bangkok to attend two weeks of meetings aimed at finalising the negotiating text for the next climate deal to be considered at the upcoming world climate summit in Copenhagen.

The main task of the Bangkok talks is to simplify the current 280-page draft agreement for Copenhagen to less than 40 pages.

The talks follow a series of international meetings on climate change at the United Nations (UN) in New York and the G-20 in Pittsburgh that have set a positive political tone for progress in finalising a deal.

“Your job now, for the next two weeks, is to engage in full negotiation mode, building on this political progress and to transform the political will into text,” Connie Hedegaard, Denmark’s Minister of Climate and Energy, said in her opening speech.

While Japan, China and India made new commitments on emission reductions at recent meetings, the G-20 failed to get the developed nations to agree on an annual $140-billion-dollar finance pact for developing countries to fight and adapt to climate change.

“Honestly, I was disappointed with the G-20 meeting last week. It failed to deliver a climate-finance plan as hoped,” Ms. Hedegaard said.

“Developed countries must prove they are serious. We need to build the post-2010 financial architecture.” The European Union, while pleased with the commitments made by China and India to slow their carbon emissions growth rate, is still looking for more specifics in Bangkok.

“What is missing is what are the concrete actions that they are going to propose,” said Artur Runge-Metzer, European Commissioner in charge of climate change issues. “The glue that is holding it all together is finance,” he added.

Developed countries want to see more concrete commitments from the developing world on emission cuts before committing to a finance plan that would help them meet those commitments.

The Bangkok meeting, to be followed up by one more session on climate talks in Barcelona, Spain, coincided with an unprecedented tropical storm in Manila that has killed scores and displaced 500,000.

“The need to agree on a fair, ambitious and binding deal for the climate in Copenhagen was further driven home this weekend as the Tropical Storm Ketsana dumped a month’s worth of rain on Manila in just six hours,” said Greenpeace South-east Asia executive director Von Hernandez.

“With the death toll still rising, and more than 500,000 driven from their homes, it reminds us that South-east Asia is among the most vulnerable and least prepared areas to deal with the impacts of climate change,” he said.


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