World stumbles toward climate summit

April 10, 2011 - 0:0

BANGKOK (AP) -– Nineteen years after the world started to take climate change seriously, delegates from around the globe spent five days talking about what they will talk about at a year-end conference in South Africa. They agreed to talk about their opposing viewpoints.

Delegates from 173 nations did agree that delays in averting global warming merely fast-forward the risk of plunging the world into “catastrophe.” The delegate from Bolivia noted that the international effort, which began with a 1992 UN convention, has so far amounted to “throwing water on a forest fire.”
But the UN meeting in Bangkok, which concluded late Friday after delegates cobbled together a broad agenda for the December summit, failed to narrow the deep divisions between the developing world and the camp of industrialized nations led by the United States. These may come to plague the summit in Durban.
Generally, developing nations, pointing to the industrialized world as the main culprit behind global warning, want an international treaty that would legally bind countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Washington and others reject it, focusing instead on building on the modest decisions made at last December's summit in Cancun, Mexico.
The Durban agenda calls for discussion on both viewpoints.
“I believe that we now have a solid basis to move forward collectively and that governments can deliver further good results this year, provided every effort is made to compromise,” the UN's top climate change official Christiana Figueres said. She expressed regret that the road to Durban is proving a slow one.
Although the Bangkok conference was not geared to tackle the core issues, some movement was at least expected in implementing decisions reached at Cancun. These included the formation of a multibillion-dollar Green Climate Fund to aid developing nations obtain clean-energy technology, setting up a global structure for these nations to obtain patented technology for clean energy and climate adaptation and rounding out a plan to compensate poorer nations for protecting their climate-friendly forests.
Some deadlines for accomplishing these have already passed and it appears little of substance was accomplished in Bangkok, with that work being passed on to the next meeting set for June in Bonn, Germany.
Although also not a pledging session, there was no indication that nations were prepared, in UN parlance, to “raise their ambitions,” or reduce emissions of greenhouse gases above earlier pledges.
The current total pledges are deemed by the United Nations to fall way short of cuts required to keep temperatures rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 F) above preindustrial levels — an agreement reached in Cancun by 193 countries.