(Bangkok) The UN climate talks ended today in Bangkok with disappointing progress due to a lack of strong leadership by industrialized countries on global warming action.
With the continued willingness of developing countries to step up their action in reducing emissions, the main obstacles in the negotiations are the weak targets on the table for rich countries and their failure to make firm commitments to support climate actions in developing countries. “Countries primarily responsible for global warming in the first place, Canada included, have not followed through on their commitment to lead the way on climate change, and in fact are in danger of backtracking yet again,” said Mark Lutes, from WWF International.
The issue that dominated the talks was the future of the Kyoto Protocol. Developing countries say that any future agreement must include the Protocol, to ensure that action occurs. Canada was amongst a small group of countries, including Russia, who are trying to dismantle Kyoto. “Kyoto was only supposed to be the first step, said Dale Marshall, David Suzuki Foundation. “Now, when rich countries are finally expected to take a bigger, bolder step in the fight against global warming, some are seen as trying to kill the one agreement that would assure that they do.”
Canada also blocked agreement on details of the Protocol, such as the use of 1990 as a common base year for all countries.
Another disappointment of the meeting was the attempts of developed countries to evade responsibility for logging emissions. The accounting rules for forestry are critical to a strong outcome because lax rules could allow countries to continue unsustainable practices such as harvesting wilderness forests and replacing them with young trees, rather than reducing actual emissions. “We hope that Canada will step up and take a leadership role in the negotiations in this area to ensure that measures to conserve forests are supported in the next climate agreement,” said Chris Henschel, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.
It is not too late for leadership to create the space for a fair, ambitious and legally-binding agreement in December. Stronger 2020 pollution reduction commitments have been announced here in Bangkok by Norway (40% reductions, strengthened from 30%) and, just recently, Japan (25% reductions, strengthened from 8%), showing what is possible if political will is exercised. “We need to see that kind of leadership here in Ottawa starting with a real climate change plan,” said Graham Saul, Climate Action Network-Reseau Action Climat. “Canada’s 3% reduction target is the weakest of any industrialized country and we have put no money on the table for the developing world.”
Several meetings are scheduled between now and the UN climate summit in December in Copenhagen. They include the G20 finance ministers meeting in St. Andrews, UK and UN negotiations in Barcelona.
Civil society groups will be organizing numerous public events between now and December, including the International Day of Action on October 24th. “Canadian citizens need to become engaged and demand that their government take action and show leadership,” said Adam MacIsaac, Adopt a Negotiator.