After one week of UN climate talks in Thailand, not a single country has made a fresh commitment, and US negotiators stunned delegates by calling for any new treaty to be ‘flexible’ and ‘dynamic’ rather than legally binding, representing a complete U-turn on its previous position.
The UN climate talks featuring delegates from 190 nations, that have been ongoing for the last week in Bangkok, Thailand, and which conclude today, have produced few concrete results.
The talks were happening against a backdrop of record Arctic ice melt, recent flooding in the Philippines, Asam and other areas, recent drought in the US, and an ongoing food crisis in the Sahel.
Last December at the Durban COP talks, the world’s nations agreed that they would sign a legally-binding pact to cut emissions and help developing nations adapt to climate change, from 2020. Part of this agreement included a promise to deepen existing promises to cut emissions by the end of the decade.
However, after one week of talks in Thailand, not a single country has made a fresh commitment, and US negotiators stunned delegates by calling for any new treaty to be ‘flexible’ and ‘dynamic’ rather than legally binding, representing a complete U-turn on its previous position.
In response, 130 developing countries sought to put pressure on developed countries by threatening to deny them access to Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits, which developed countries use to offset their emissions by financing projects in the poor ones.
But this tactic could backfire, as Takehiro Kano, a senior climate negotiator with Japan, said that if they went ahead, Japan’s response might just be to lower its voluntary target of cutting emissions 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, and Justin Lee, Australia’s climate change ambassador, retorted that the Australian government would anyway “take international action that best supports Australia’s domestic initiatives”.