Bangkok climate change talks winding up

(dpa) -  A UN-sponsored climate change meeting in Bangkok started to wind up late Friday after hours of delay blamed on strong disagreements between the developing and developed countries on the future work schedule, sources said.

The plenary sessions of the five-day meeting, scheduled to start at 3 pm, opened at 7:10 pm instead, and were expected to end by 10 pm.

"It will end at 9:30 at the latest because after that we have no interpreters," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the host of the Bangkok talks.

There were two tracks of talks at the Bangkok meeting. The ad hoc working group on further commitments to the Kyoto Protocol held the first plenary session Friday, but it was still unclear whether the second, more controversial, ad hoc working group on the Bali Action Plan would be wrapped up Friday.

Developed and developing nations at the Bali Action Plan meeting disagreed on which topics should be prioritized at upcoming workshops on the main topics - sectoral mechanisms, mitigation, deforestation, technology transfer and finance.

Japan, which has been pushing for setting sectoral targets for industries at the Bangkok meeting as a means of committing the developing countries to emission cuts, was at the heart of the controversy.

"It was stupid of Japan," said Yurika Ayukawa, of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Japan. "They wanted China, India, Brazil and Mexico to come on board and they came up with a proposal that scared them away."

Japan's sectoral approach to cutting carbon emissions has been critcized as a backdoor means of forcing developing countries to commit to emissions cuts, something only industrialized countries have committed to under the Kyoto Protocol.

In Bangkok, Japan dropped its sectoral targets for all countries proposal but pushed for a "sectoral mechanism" for cutting emissions. Tokyo has pushed to put sectoral mechanism as a priority for upcoming workshops on climate change.

"The Japanese want their sectoral mechanism workshop before the G8, and the developing countries say that this is a Trojan Horse for sectoral targets," said Bill Hare of Greenpeace International.

The Bangkok meeting is the first major world conference since the Bali breakthrough in December, which set a road map for strengthening international action on climate change.

It was tasked with setting the agenda for talks to be concluded next year on concrete plans to halt increases in global carbon emissions by 2015 and dramatically cut them by 2050.

This week's meeting was also working on rules for industrialized countries to meet their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to cut carbon emissions within 10 to 15 years as the first real step toward slowing global warming.

"We have just one and a half years to complete negotiations on what will probably be the most complex international agreement that history has ever seen," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the host UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Given the time constraints, many observers said they believed the most substantive outcome from the Bangkok talks would be an agreement to increase the number and length of of negotiations, which would require new financing.

The next major climate-change meeting is planned later this year in Poznan, Poland, and then the finale in Copenhagen in 2009. There will be several workshops between those two meetings.

The Bangkok talks drew about 1,200 delegates from 163 countries.

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