UN Climate Change talks kick off in Bangkok

Updated: 2008-03-31 21:53

BANGKOK - A five-day round of United Nations climate change negotiations kicked off in Bangkok Monday, opening the first steps to implement the Bali Roadmap adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference on the Indonesian island resort last December.

The opening of Bangkok Climate Change conference takes place at UN headquarters in Bangkok March 31, 2008. [Agencies]

At the Bali conference, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed to step up international efforts to combat climate change and to launch formal negotiations to come to a long-term international agreement at the conference in Copenhagen by the end of 2009, to lay down measures and obligations for the world after the first commitment period of Kyoto Protocol expires by the end of 2012.

The Bangkok meeting is designed to both map out a work program that will lead to that agreement and to advance work on the rules through which emission reduction targets of developed countries can be met.

UN officials are again warning, when the meeting opened Monday morning, that time is running out to prepare an agreement in time to enter into force before 2012.

Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC executive secretary of the UNFCCC, pointed out that three months had already elapsed since the Bali conference and that a draft of a future agreement would need to be ready well before Copenhagen.

"This leaves us with around one and a half years -- a very short time-frame within which to complete negotiations on one of the most complex international agreements that history has ever seen," said the UN top climate change official.

"But I am confident that it can be done if the work is broken down into manageable, bite-sized chunks," he added.

Around 1,200 participants from 163 countries, including government representatives, participants from business and industry, environmental organizations and research institutions, are attending the Bangkok Climate Change Talks 2008.

At the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali last year, Parties to the UNFCCC decided on both the time-line and the main elements of a stronger climate change deal, including a shared long-term vision and enhanced action on the four building blocs: mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance.

The Bangkok meeting is supposed to be technical-oriented and "boring", UN officials said.

A new Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA) was mandated in Bali to lead the work and is meeting for the first time in Bangkok. Its main task is to spell out the next steps needed to come to the envisaged agreement.

"What we now need is a bottom-up approach on all the elements, taking all the concerns of the Parties into account," said Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, chairman of the AW-LGA.

Equal time will be devoted to the discussions of four key building blocks -- mitigation, adaptation, technologies and financing -- in the Bangkok talks and negotiations later, said Machado.

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