Insider's view: Bangkok part 3

07 October 2009 | News story

More from IUCN climate change expert Claire Parker in the meeting's second week.

This second week of negotiations started amidst continuing speculation as to whether a comprehensive deal can be reached in Copenhagen in December.

President Obama’s adviser on energy, Carol Browner had delivered a pessimistic message to the process when she said in Washington late last week that the administration did not expect the Senate to vote on a climate change bill before the UNFCCC Copenhagen meeting. As the US’s emission reduction targets are widely seen as one of the key elements for reaching an international agreement there, this was unwelcome news. It came shortly after a Senate bill was tabled that seeks to cut US emissions by 20% on 2005 levels by 2020. The US administration does not want to put forward targets internationally as long as it has no legal basis to implement them at home.

Some negotiators are now talking about an alternative plan which, instead of creating a global set of binding limits, might give credit for domestic programs that would be nationally binding and subject to international review. This would in effect discard the architecture of the Kyoto Protocol, which, they point out, has been less than fully successful so far. Whether or not to keep the Kyoto Protocol alongside another, wider agreement including all Parties to the UNFCCC (i.e. with the US and the developing countries) will be the hot topic this week.

Work is progressing relatively well in the various groups dealing with adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building. New consolidated texts are emerging, which are shorter and usually better focused.

On adaptation, the developing countries are pointing out that so far, their developed country partners are focusing a lot on planning mechanisms and not enough on adaptation actions. IUCN has been actively lobbying for the negotiating text to recognise the value of ecosystems in assisting people to adapt to climate change and has been promoting Ecosystem-based Adaptation.