UN climate talks ended in Bangkok on 9 October with disappointing progress. While there was success on consolidating the 180-page negotiating text, the political divides on issues such as mitigation and financing are still wide.
The future of the Kyoto Protocol itself came under scrutiny. Currently, it is the only legal instrument at an international level that sets binding targets for developed countries to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. It is under threat from some countries who want to lower the emissions targets or make them non-binding all together. Not everyone accepts 1990 as a common base year for all countries to measure emissions. And not every country has accepted the need to limit temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The way to reach the emission reduction goal remains unclear. Governments are offering to reduce their emissions between 15 to 23 percent below 1990 level by 2020. This is far from the 40 percent that the scientists are saying is required to keep the temperature below the required target. The meeting in Bangkok did see stronger 2020 pollution reduction commitments by Norway (strengthened from 30% to 40% reductions) and Japan (strengthened from 8% to 25% reductions), showing what is possible if political will is exercised.
While poor countries are willing to reduce their emissions, they want assurances that rich countries will pay for it. There is an American proposal for a centralized climate fund. Many consider this to be unpredictable, open to interpretation and unable to generate the amount of finances needed.
Gabriel Baroi, Programme Officer for Caritas Asia attended the two week long talks in Bangkok with a team from Asia that included Fr. Bonnie Mendes, Regional Coordinator for Caritas Asia, Dr. Haridas V. Raman from Caritas India, Mr. Zar Gomez from Caritas Philippines (NASSA), Dr. Raman and Mr. Gomez who are part of the Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers’ Rights (SAFaR) Programme of Caritas Asia. During the negotiations, the Caritas Asia delegation called for the inclusion of sustainable development and agriculture.
“Farming causes 20 to 30 per cent of emissions and mostly by chemical based agriculture but it is yet to get due concern in adaptation, mitigation, technology development and finance,” said Mr. Baroi. “The final agreement should finance organic agriculture, capacity building in organic agriculture and stop chemically-based conventional agriculture.”
Mr. Baroi stressed the need to promote the rights of small scale farmers over the resources like seeds, water, credit and that farmers must have the right to save, exchange, re-use and sell crops, seed and other resources.
“Farmers should have the rights over traditional knowledge,” he said. “We must keep carbon-trading out of agriculture and out of overall climate talk if possible.”
It is not too late for an equitable deal if we get political leadership from the top. Governments and heads of states need to be clearing their calendars and committing to attend the Copenhagen climate summit in person. Their presence is the only way to show they’re are serious about a fair and effective climate deal. With less than 50 days to go, time is running out.