Bangkok climate talks set programme for Bali Action plan

UN-sponsored climate change talks wound up Friday with a work programme for the Bali Action Plan after a heated debate between developing and developed countries on the schedule. ( dpa )

The parties "agreed to undertake its work, seeking progress on all elements assigned to it by the Bali Action Plan, in a coherent, integrated and transparent manner," said the concluding document.

The plenary sessions of the five-day meeting, originally scheduled to start at 3 pm (0900 GMT), opened at 7:10 pm (1310 GMT) instead and ended after midnight.

The Bangkok talks, coming three months after a landmark agreement was reached in Bali to set a road map for strengthening international action on climate change, 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.

Although the final agreement was delayed by a hot debate over which issues should be prioritized at upcoming workshops, delegates expressed satisfaction with the outcome and opined that there had been no serious backsliding on the commitments made in Bali.

"We have all the elements of the Bali Action Plan," said Andrej Kranjc, head of the Slovenia delegation and the European Commission.

There were two tracks of talks at the Bangkok meeting. The ad hoc working group on commitments to the Kyoto Protocol, which concluded with an agreement to continue the carbon trading mechanisms after the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012, deemed crucial for continuing the current system of inducing industrialized countries to cut their emissions.

"There was a clear commitment in the ad hoc working group on the Kyoto Protocol that the financial mechanisms should continue in the future for the second commitment period, and now we have to figure out the details," said Nicole Wilke, head of the German delegation.

Only developed countries have made commitments to cut carbon emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

The debate was more intense at the second ad hoc working group, tasked with setting a work programme for the Bali Action Plan which will result in an international agreement in 2009.

Developed and developing nations at the Bali Action Plan meeting where split over which topics should be prioritized at upcoming workshops on the main topics - sector mechanisms, mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and finance.

Japan and the US tried to push the sectoral approach on the agenda for the next session on climate talks scheduled for June in Bonn, prior to the G8 meeting, but they were pushed back until the third session to be held in August in Ghana.

"I think you can always discuss what you want to raise first and raise second, but in the end to me what's important is that issues are discussed and I think the work programme allows for that," said Wilke of the final document.

Others felt that the Japan-led push for a sector approach to carbon cuts had soured the mood at the conference.

"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 sector approach to cutting carbon emissions has been criticized as a backdoor means of forcing developing countries to commit to emissions cuts, something only industrialized countries have committed to under the Kyoto Protocol.

The Bangkok meeting has paved the way for future discussion on sector mechanism, but put off the workshop on the issue until next year, delegates said.

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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