Nuclear Uncertainty, Divisions As UN Climate Talks Open in Bangkok
An interim round of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change talks taking place this week in Bangkok promises posturing and possible incremental progress, but little hope for a breakthrough prior to the main talks, COP17, slated for next December in Durban, South Africa.
After last December’s Cancun summit (COP16), participating countries submitted pledges of urgent action to keep the global temperature to a rise of no more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Farenheit). In an opening press conference this week, UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres noted that the sum of those pledges falls short, reaching only 60% of what science says is required.
At an April 4 press conference Figueres called for a tone of flexibility of spirit and compromise as set at the Cancun talks, but early signs indicate that the argument between developed and developing countries will continue to impede progress. Talk of a gap between the 2012 expiration of the Kyoto Protocol and a new agreement taking effect could have dire consequences on investors uncertain over the future of the growing global carbon market.
At this time it is uncertain what effect the nuclear disaster at Fukushima will have on meeting the overall goals for reduction of carbon emissions, especially in Japan, which gets one-third of its energy from nuclear power (which does not emit carbon.) Agence France Presse quotes a Japanese environment official as acknowledging that both the target year and carbon reduction percentage will be affected in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear plant situation.
Green Climate Fund to Address Developing Needs for Mitigation
One issue at the talks will be progress on the Green Climate Fund, with the goal of funding developing nations’ efforts to adopt clean energy technology and otherwise mitigate the effects of climate change. The committee that is to design the Fund has not yet been formed, and there is no agreement on how the funding, a target $100 billion a year starting in 2020, will be raised.
Social Media Allows Remote Participation
Can’t make it to Bangkok? The talks can be followed via webcasts, a Facebook page, and even an iPhone/IPad app. The free app includes a news feed, documents, schedules and alerts.
Call for Doctors to Speak Out on Climate Change
Calls for action on climate change continue outside the negotiations. A recent article in the prestigious British Medical Journal calls for doctors to take a stand on climate change as a health issue. The four authors’ (including a physician, a two medical professors and a rear admiral, stated: “Climate change poses an immediate and grave threat, driving ill-health and increasing the risk of conflict, such that each feeds upon the other. Like all good medicine, prevention is the key.” Let’s hope the talks in Bangkok and beyond will prevent the most dire consequences of global warming.
Photo: UNFCCC logo via Facebook