The Bangkok meeting on climate change has floundered on the rock of discord over the formulations and funding adopted at the Paris conference of December 2015. The international summit, which concluded in the Thai capital on Sunday, has fallen short of its aim – to complete preparations towards an agreement this December for implementing the tentative Paris pact.
From Paris to Bangkok, the effort towards resolving a deeply contentious issue has been reduced to a fizzle. The six-day meeting in Thailand was scheduled to lend impetus to the battle against rising global carbon emissions by adopting a completed text that could be presented at the COP24 conference in Katowice, Poland, three months from now.
But the deadlock persists, as it did in Copenhagen and Cancun. The road from Paris has neither been paved with good intentions nor an agreed road map. Donald Trump, who withdrew from the deal some months ago, might just be enjoying a sense of schadenfreude. An agreement remains as elusive as ever.
A primary objective of the 2015 Paris agreement, to which 190 nations including Australia signed up, is to limit the increase in global temperature by 2100 to less than 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5C, which is vital for the survival of island nations and cities – like Bangkok – that are threatened by rising seas. But the absence of guidelines for meeting that objective shows adequate action is not being taken. The major differences relate are over “fair financing” for implementation of the rules by developing countries, and the technical details of their reporting on the progress made.
The issue of how funds are made available to developing countries has emerged as a key sticking point. Despite the withdrawal by President Trump, there is little doubt that Washington retains leverage over the climate talks, whether in Bangkok or the next round in Poland. It would be pertinent to recall that the Paris deal was hailed as a game-changer as it promised $100 billion annually from 2020 to poor nations that are coping with floods, heat waves, and rising sea level – all disasters caused by climate change.
But the system to provide that money as well as how donor-nations would source their contributions were left agonisingly vague. As it now turns out, given the absence of a consensus over basics, the Bangkok conference – prolonged to six days – was bound to fail. The meeting was attended by representatives of most of the countries that are party to the Paris agreement, as well as the United States, which has announced that it is pulling out of the pact.
The pattern of funding is crucial as a road map towards climate change, decrease in sea levels, a cleaner environment, and a habitable world. But every international effort has been overshadowed by the carbon emissions.