(Washington – April 8, 2011) Countries wrapped up a tough week of U.N. climate negotiations in Bangkok, Thailand today, producing an agenda setting out the issues they would address in meetings leading up to December's high level talks in Durban, South Africa – but little more.
"The Bangkok meetings did manage to produce an agenda, but they also served as further proof that the process of getting a global climate agreement is going to take a long time," said Jennifer Haverkamp, International Climate Director at Environmental Defense Fund.
"Countries are clearly in a marathon, not a sprint, toward Durban, and this week they could barely crawl past the starting line. At least now they're headed in the same direction, but they really need to pick up the pace if South Africa is to yield any real results," Haverkamp said. "Meanwhile the major emitters must continue to address the problem through their own domestic actions, if we're to keep from falling even further behind in the race to save the planet."
The agenda, finalized after today's scheduled end of the conference, offers a general outline of issues to be taken up in June's U.N. climate meetings in Bonn and over the rest of the year, but does not include an operational "work plan" on how to implement the big-picture agreements that came out of last year's conference in Cancun.
"The significant, but incomplete, progress achieved in Cancun left large, overarching and very difficult political questions unanswered. In Bangkok, countries all too slowly picked up from where they left off last year. The good news is that by persevering and grappling their way toward a collective agreement on political priorities, they have re-upped their commitment to the process," Haverkamp said.