Fiona Harvey Bangkok goes off with a whimper

It was almost the last United Nations negotiating session before December’s crunch conference in Copenhagen, but the Bangkok session, which began on September 28 and ended on October 9, finished with a whimper rather than a breakthrough.

There was still no agreement on the key issues of how far developed countries will pledge to cut emissions in the medium term, and how they will provide financial help to poor countries, which need assistance both to cut emissions and cope with the effects of climate change.

There was some progress on some technical issues, such as how the global warming potential of new greenhouse gases would be calculated. And some of the 200 pages of negotiating text has been slimmed down.

But the pace of negotiations is still far too slow to ensure a new deal can be signed at Copenhagen in December, delegates said.

Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the official charged with bringing this year’s talks to a successful conclusion, looked on the bright side as he summed up: “A will has emerged in Bangkok to build the architecture to rapidly
implement climate action.”

But he urged the world to step up the pace of discussions when he added: “Significant differences remain. In December, citizens everywhere in the world will have a right to know exactly what their governments will do to prevent dangerous climate change. It is time now to step back from self
interest and let the common interest prevail.”