Bangkok talks make progress but long way to go

Climate talks in Bangkok wound down Friday, but with just three weeks until the upcoming Barcelona session, negotiators were clearly positioning for the next round.

UN climate chief Yvo de Boer: It’s urgent that we bridge the disconnect and narrow the differences.
Dominican Republic: We must clear the way, find a way to move forward.
US delegate Jonathan Pershing: There’s lots to do… it won’t be easy, it will require pragmatism and creativity.
China: We still cherish hopes there will be a successful outcome in Copenhagen.

If it sounds like negotiators hit a road block in Bangkok, they did.

It’s not that nothing got done– Indonesia announced a deforestation target, Norway pledged to cut emissions 40 percent if other nations get more ambitious, and all delegates worked diligently to trim and reorganize the negotiating text.

But delegates ran head-on into political reality this week- the US isn’t ready with hard emissions targets and investment numbers, and other nations can’t sign a deal until they know what’s being offered and asked.

In a way it’s good negotiators hit this roadblock now, rather than later, because it’s one they have to get around to get a good result in Copenhagen.

The reality is the numbers will come from US climate and energy legislation that could still be in the Senate or on President Obama’s desk in December (when the Copenhagen summit starts- and when President Obama will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, news that broke in Bangkok during the closing plenary).

It’s a tough position but negotiators have to plow forward and create rules and make policy decisions for a global climate deal – and trust the US will step up with hard numbers in time to lead.

Bangkok showed it’s not easy for nations to pledge actions and assume the US will come through – it’s not how things played out ten years ago and now countries worry the US is trying to undo the Kyoto Protocol.

But US negotiators seem prepared to work double-time to convince countries the world’s biggest economy is ready to lead the way this time. (see US press conference).
And when that happens, we need the others to follow.

Chile put it nicely in the closing plenary: We need ambitious commitments from developed countries but we also must create a mass of countries willing to move.

US negotiator Jonathan Pershing addresses Bangkok closing plenary

US negotiator Jonathan Pershing addresses Bangkok closing plenary

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