Bangkok 2012: Civil society react to latest round of UN climate talks

Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid:
“Bangkok has been the process of peeling back the banana skin of the ‘Durban Agreement’ and it’s clear the insides are soft and squishy. Although the world understood Durban to confirm there would be a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, and a set of ambitious decisions to enhance the implementation of the climate convention, this session suggests that this will not be, in any meaningful sense of the words.”

Nicolas Milton, Practical Action:
Adaptation is an issue that has been little on the agenda in Bangkok but needs to urgently be in Doha. Many of the delegates I’ve spoken to here over the last week agree that climate adaptation must go up the UN’s agenda and there needs to be a much better balance of when it comes to funding (currently only about 10% of climate finance is spent on adaptation). To do this they have formed an Adaptation Committee which is due to meet for the first time immediately after the talks in Bangkok. A big part of their work will be to mandate countries to draw up National Adaptation Plans, both for developed and developing nations.”

Meena Raman, Third World Network:
“The United States and its allies want the UN to ‘be silent’ on issues where they haven’t yet reached agreement. To be clear that means they want the UN to be silent on solving climate change. The US is taking a wrecking ball to the climate convention and any hope of stopping run away climate catastrophe.”

Alex Hanafi, Attorney, Environmental Defense Fund:
“In Bangkok, it became clearer still that the prospect of a new climate deal that calls for all countries to do their part to lower emissions is still in its very early stages, and countries are grappling with how to transition from the old regime to a still as-yet-undefined new one.

“Now countries’ ability to expeditiously resolve their differences on the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol, and to then focus on making substantive progress toward achieving a strong, enforceable and flexible climate agreement by 2015, will be the ultimate yardstick by which success in Doha’s negotiations will be measured.”

Alden Meyer, Union of Concerned Scientists:
“The world has warmed less than 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, yet we are already starting to experience the devastating impacts of human-induced climate change. Meanwhile, the collective low level of ambition on emissions reductions will soon foreclose our ability to stay below the 2 degrees increase in global temperatures that world leaders have committed to avoid. The time for finger-pointing, blame-casting, and hiding behind the inaction of others is over. What we demand from all countries in Doha is three things: action, ambition, and accountability.”

Wael Hmaidan, CAN International:
“We welcome the openness towards civil society input that Qatar is showing, but they need to step up their leadership role if they want to achieve a successful outcome at COP18 in Doha. In the very short time remaining before the start of the conference, Qatar must reach out to a wider group of countries to understand their priorities for COP18, especially small island states and least developed countries, who are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

“Qatar should also submit an emission limitation pledge to the international community. Although it is a relatively easy step, given the capabilities Qatar has, such a pledge will send a strong political signal that Qatar is serious about climate change.”

Tove Ryding, Greenpeace International:
“While people around the world are fighting life or death struggles against extreme storms and droughts, the EU, US and the emerging economies have not made any progress to resolving political barriers to tackling the climate crisis. So far, the governments have managed to resolve some technical issues and admitted that we have a very serious problem but completely failed to take the necessary action.”

Tasneem Essop, WWF:
“Some parties need to get a reality check and get out of the negotiation “bubble” – they need to look the vulnerable in the eye – so we suggest that they use the time between now and Doha to do a field trip to witness first hand the impacts of climate change already being felt in many places such as the drought-ridden Horn of Africa and central US, Tuvalu with sea-level rise, Philippines, India and Thailand with frequent flooding, Brazil with land-slides due to heavy rainfalls and the Arctic where in this week we are bearing witness to the highest recorded levels of sea-ice melting! Maybe this is what we need to give those who lack a sense of urgency a wake up call.”

Harjeet Singh, ActionAid:

“Rich countries’ negotiating tactics have further delayed steps to reduce emissions and provide poor countries with the cash needed to tackle climate-related disasters. Recent flooding in the Philippines, a hurricane in the US, and a typhoon in North Korea show that we can’t go on ignoring climate change.”

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