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The Daily Tck

Race to the Future: www.tcktcktck.org


5 April 2011

Summary of the Current status/situation


It’s day 3 in Bangkok, and negotiators are concluding the round of workshops. Later today, they will pick up from
where they left off in Cancun and plan their steps forward. This will mean first agreeing on what the agenda for the year
will look like. While agreeing on the agenda should seem simple, it might be the only discussion countries will be
having for most of this meeting as there are several opposing views as to what it should include. Should it include only
what was agreed in Cancun? Should we only use the so called building blocks outlined in the Bali Action Plan from
2007? Or both? What about the missing elements, some of which are really important, like increasing the level of
ambition of developed countries, innovative sources of finance or international transport? And how will the fact that
Bolivia rejects the Cancun Agreements play out in all this debate? At their midday press conference at the UNESCAP
building, the Bolivians indicated plans to go to court over the Cancun Agreements, but didn’t clearly explain when and
how they may do so. That sounds like some difficult discussions ahead…
We are faced with many questions, and it will probably be in tomorrow’s Daily Tck when we can give you a sense of
things, and whether countries are building on the positive momentum from Cancun, or whether they get bogged down
in procedural discussions. We really hope and have been pushing negotiators not to spend the next three days
negotiating an agenda, but to get that done this afternoon and use the rest of the Bangkok session to develop a firm
work programme for the year with clear deadlines and deliverables. Imagine headlines on Friday afternoon along the
lines of “Countries fail to agree climate agenda after week of cumbersome negotiations.” Nope, nobody wants this, and
the climate can’t afford it, not to mention the vulnerable communities around the world.
So how did yesterday’s and this morning’s workshops go? The workshop on the technology mechanism is said to have
gone constructively, but as it has just finished we are still collecting intelligence and hope to have a more detailed
update in tomorrow’s Daily Tck. In the other workshop on mitigation, the developing countries’ presentations on their
planned low-carbon actions and the support they need to implement them were more promising than those of developed
countries. The presentations varied in level of detail from general lists of actions to presentations indicating how actions
will add up to a reduction in emissions and how much support is needed, to ones with explanations even on the
assumptions behind the baseline they will compare their reductions against. After two days of workshops we now know
the details behinds the pledges, we know more about the assumptions and conditions, and we know that it all doesn’t
add up to what we need, and for the first time the negotiators elaborated on this. Time to address the shortfall in
ambition, and to close the so-called gigatonne gap! The race to the future will have to be a high-speed race.

What is happening?
NGOs ran a press conference at the talks yesterday (webcast on demand at: http://unfccc2.meta-
fusion.com/kongresse/110403_AWG_Bangkok/templ/play.php?id_kongresssession=3471&theme=unfccc), and
considering that there are rather few journalists here, we felt having AP, AFP, Reuters, Bloomberg and some others in
the room meant a good turnout. We also got some coverage, with press focusing on the NGO take on Japan and the
future of the Kyoto Protocol (go to “other materials” below for more details). As UNFCCC Secretary Christiana
Figueres was using her press conference right before the NGO briefing to also focus on the potential Kyoto gap (i.e. a
gap between commitment periods when the first period ends in 2012 without a second period or alternative solution
being in place), we believe this issue is now gaining profile and prominence, and thus the pressure is rising on
negotiators to deal with it this year rather than postponing decisions again.
From the questions by journalists and the media coverage we can clearly see that press is trying to connect the Bangkok
talks with the catastrophes affecting Thailand (floods in the South) and Japan (nuclear crisis after earthquake and
tsunami). At yesterday’s NGO press conference, Naoyuki Yamagishi from WWF Japan gave a strong presentation,
explaining what the unfolding disaster means for future energy choices in Japan and elsewhere around the world, and
why he expects Japan to take helpful and progressive positions in the negotiations in the face of unprecedented
international support and solidarity during these times of crisis. This message was important and timely, as some voices
and media had suggested that Japan may not be willing and able to stick to its Kyoto emission reduction target for 2012
and may have to reconsider its 20% emission reduction target for 2020. Government voices in Tokyo and here in
Bangkok dismissed these reports, and overall it still looks like it’s too early for anyone to safely say how the crisis will
affect Japan’s emissions and targets. Japanese negotiators in Bangkok insist that Japan’s positions haven’t shifted. To
be prepared for such shifts in the future, NGOs in Bangkok are discussing scenarios and messaging.
Message for the day
Two days of workshops in Bangkok saw impressive examples of plans for low-carbon actions by several developing
countries and a few developed countries. That’s truly inspiring, but many countries still need to scale up their levels of
ambition in the race to a safer and better future people all over the world demand. After negotiators managed to agree
important institutional arrangements in Cancun, they now have to use Bangkok to start operationalizing these new
institutions which are meant to organize technology cooperation, manage climate finance, and foster adaptation to the
consequences of climate change.
A few key issues were not solved in Cancun, but adding these to the agenda should be easy. Rather than wasting time
bickering about the agenda, negotiators should get on with it, agree a workplan with deadlines and deliverables, and
start working towards breakthroughs on what really counts. Making real progress here will also be an important signal
for low-carbon development and related energy choices. The horrible tragedy in Japan reminds us that we have to make
those choices carefully. A safe future and a safe climate both depend on safe energy, and it’s clear that renewable
energy is our best and only choice.

What you can do today?


Hold your breath… Depending on how the today’s plenaries go, we might have a lot to do for you tomorrow.
Meanwhile, use the great content produced by Adopt-A-Negotiator to tell your audiences about Bangkok, e.g. this very
powerful piece by UK tracker Anna Collins (http://adoptanegotiator.org/2011/04/04/our-changing-climate/) and a video
from last night where the Indian, Chinese and Indonesian tracker sum up day 2
(http://adoptanegotiator.org/2011/04/04/china-india-indonesias-take-on-day-2-of-the-un-climate-conference/).
Regarding the energy choices debate and whether renewables can replace nuclear power to avoid more coal, check out
and promote the latest Huffington Post column by GCCA’s Executive Director Kelly Rigg at:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kelly-rigg/nuclear-vs-coal-a-nowin-e_b_844149.html

Other materials:
AFP: UN climate chief warns on Kyoto Protocol deadline
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world/view/1120602/1/.html
REUTERS: Uncertain Future of Kyoto Protocol Alarms Green Groups
http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/climate-change-uncertain-future-of-kyoto-protocol-alarms-green-groups
VOICE OF AMERICA: UN Climate Chief: Emission Reduction Targets Lacking
http://www.voanews.com/english/news/environment/UN-Climate-Chief-Emission-Reduction-Targets-Lacking-
119181489.html
IRISH TIMES : Gap between expiry of Kyoto and new treaty, UN admits
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2011/0405/1224293868862.html
GLOBAL POST: Three major issues dominate new UN climate conference
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/thailand/110404/bangkok-un-climate-change-kyoto-
protocol