Governments from 200 countries will launch discussions on Monday on forging a global warming agreement, a process that is expected to be fraught with disagreements over how much to reduce greenhouse gases and which nations should adhere to binding targets.
The weeklong, United Nations climate meeting in Bangkok comes on the heels of a historic agreement reached in December to draft an accord on global warming by 2009.
Without a pact to rein in rising greenhouse gases in the next two decades, scientist say warming weather will lead to widespread drought, floods, higher sea levels and worsening storms.
“The challenge is to design a future agreement that will significantly step up action on adaptation, successfully halt the increase in global emissions within the next 10 to 15 years, dramatically cut back emissions by 2050, and do so in a way that is economically viable and politically equitable worldwide,” said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is hosting the meeting.
The European Union Environment Commissioner, Stavros Dimas, said the Bangkok meeting would determine the willingness of all parties to act quickly.
He stressed the need for an aggressive, long-term agreement “to prevent climate change from reaching dangerous levels that could put billions of people at risk later this century.”
Adding to the complexity of negotiations will be disputes over how best to help poor countries adapt to environmental changes by speeding up the transfer of technology and financial assistance.
The EU has proposed that industrialised countries slash emissions by 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. The US, which is one of the world’s top polluters, has repeatedly rejected mandatory national reduction targets of the kind agreed to under the Kyoto Protocol a decade ago.
While the EU says the West has to take the lead in reducing emissions, the United States argued it should not have to make cuts that would hurt the US economy unless China and India agreed to the same.