Statement: Bangkok Climate Change Talks

Statement of Elliot Diringer, Director of International Strategies
Pew Center on Global Climate Change

April 4, 2008

The Bali agreement was a major step forward, and while the Bangkok talks managed to keep the momentum going, they also underscored the enormous challenges ahead. The aim remains a new global deal in 2009, but it’s hard to leave Bangkok confident that deadline can be met.   

As might be expected at the start of a new negotiating round, it seemed at times that parties were moving backwards, reverting to the hard lines and rhetoric that lead nowhere but stalemate. Thankfully by the end they were able to agree on a work program to move the negotiations forward this year, including workshops on such key issues as adaptation, technology, finance, and sectoral approaches.

While the United States’ refusal to negotiate a binding emissions target remains the single largest obstacle to an effective climate agreement, U.S. negotiators did put forward a number of pragmatic suggestions for structuring the negotiations. Hopefully this new, more constructive approach will make it easier for the next administration to negotiate an agreement setting fair, effective, and binding commitments for all major economies.

It’s clear that all eyes are on the upcoming U.S. election. And there’s every reason to expect that, whatever the outcome, the prospects for U.S. action will be far stronger. But that alone will hardly guarantee a new global agreement in a matter of months. Other parties will have to show new flexibility and a greater willingness to act if there is to be a deal in Copenhagen.