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UN talks aim to thrash out tough details on climate

The first UN climate talks of the year will be held in Bangkok this week, with negotiators looking to hammer out tough details of a global pact that has offered hope in the fight against global warming.

world Updated: Apr 03, 2011 09:20 IST

The first UN climate talks of the year will be held in Bangkok this week, with negotiators looking to hammer out tough details of a global pact that has offered hope in the fight against global warming.

The six days of talks, which begin on Sunday with informal workshops, are being held as the world's energy problems are in sharp focus amid Japan's nuclear power crisis and with oil prices hovering near record highs.

Negotiators will be seeking to build on an accord reached in the Mexican resort of Cancun in December last year that infused cautious optimism into the often tortuous UN process aimed at tackling climate change.

"The world was at a crossroads in Cancun and took a step forward towards a climate-safe world," the UN's climate chief, Christiana Figueres, said ahead of this week's talks, which formally begin on Tuesday.

"Now governments must move purposefully down the path they have set, and that means maintaining momentum at Bangkok."

Figueres said a key goal of the talks was to set out a workplan for the year so that countries could arrive in South Africa for the UN's annual climate summit in November able to make concrete and substantial agreements.

Under the Cancun accord, more than 190 countries called for "urgent action" to keep temperatures from rising no more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

To do so they pledged to seek "deep cuts" in greenhouse gas emissions, which are mainly created by using fossil fuels for energy and the clearing of carbon-rich rainforests.

In a big step towards rebuilding trust between developed and developing countries, a so-called Green Climate Fund was also established in Cancun.

If all goes to plan, the fund will by 2020 funnel USD 100 billion to developing countries each year to help them cope with climate change.

But, as with most elements of the Cancun accord, only the over-arching principles have been agreed upon and the tough negotiations on detail will now begin in Bangkok.

On the climate fund issue, one of the most obvious problems is that no-one has yet come up with a way of sourcing the money.

"In Bangkok, negotiators must begin to discuss how to tap innovative sources of funding to meet these critical needs," Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy with the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said.

Other major issues such as how the funds will be spent, by whom and how they will be accounted for -- also need to be determined.