กรุงเทพมหานคร : Bangkok

Taking stock of Post-Copenhagen: where are we heading

The high level climate talk that just ended in Koenigswinter, West Germany yesterday was hailed as an ice-breaking event. I wonder what was the carbon footprints this event generated to just "break the ice", supposed to pave a way to Cancun talk in November.

This, however, is a necessary step to ensure that UN climate talk remains on track, and continued to be supported. To recapture the failures in Copenhagen, again, among the complexity of emerging item agendas and "the building block approach" devised in Copenhagen, I see at least four major stumbling blocks that would have to be overcome for a successful negotiation:

On climate change, Thailand is not cutting it

Here we go again. Thursday it was India that joined the ranks of developing economies to announce significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in advance of the United Nations climate change discussions that begin in Copenhagen today.

So where is Thailand? When are we going to demonstrate any seriousness about our role in reducing emissions? After all, scientists warn that we're poised to receive a disproportionate share of the impact of global climate change. Our shores and coastal communities will be significantly impacted if the world as a whole does not start embarking on a major CO2 diet. Bangkok in particular will face major problems from flooding and sea level rise but, so far, hardly a word from our nation's leaders who reside here.

Vanishing islands look to the world

Taukiei Kitara has travelled a long way from the South Pacific island of Tuvalu to get a simple message across to the thousands of international delegates attending the climate change talks in Bangkok. He wants to tell them that if they don't do something, and fast, rising sea levels will swamp the low-lying tropical islands located midway between Australia and Hawaii he calls home. "I want the world to know that we are one of the most vulnerable countries, and we are here," said Mr Kitara.

But the fisherman-turned-activist has failed so far to get the 4,000 climate change negotiators to lift their heads out of technical texts and come up with a timely solution for people like him. The Bangkok meeting is the second last before the crucial Copenhagen talks later in the year, where it's hoped a climate pact will be struck to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

Time running out: Thai PM

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday urged world leaders to cooperate urgently and find a solution to the stalemate in setting greenhouse gas emission targets for nations while Thailand is doing little beyond lip services to reduce its own emissions.

Delivering a keynote speech to mark the opening of the two-week meeting, which is part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Abhisit said the gathering was able to renew society's collective engagement on the issue of climate change at the very highest levels.

However, Thailand with its emissions ranked 22nd among countries with highest outflows of greenhouse gases has done little in the past decade to contribute to prevent anthropogenic global warming. Kingkorn Naraintarakul of Thai Climate Justice Network said while Thailand does not have the compulsory emissions reduction target, it should set its own voluntary target to combat climate change.

Factbox: Key issues on the table at Bangkok climate talks

Delegates at U.N. climate talks in Bangkok are trying to whittle down a complex negotiating text that will form the basis of a broader global pact to curb the pace of climate change.

The two-week talks are crucial because negotiators have very little time to trim the options and alternative wording proposals in the 180-page text with just over two months to go before a Dec. 7-18 climate meeting in Copenhagen.

Following are some of the main issues being discussed in Bangkok.

Copenhagen Update: What is in it for Thailand?

The global climate change negotiation, known as COP15, or the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will take place in Copenhagen the end of this year. The meeting aims to ambitiously complete part of the 2007 Bali Roadmap, among others, to come up with a new comprehensive protocol to replace the Kyoto Protocol, produced in 1997 as a legal-binding treaty under the UNFCCC. It is a race against time as the Kyoto Protocol is set to expire in 2012.

Dangers seem to be hidden and would appear as a true challenge between now and December. I strongly believe that a Plan B is needed to ground and ensure measurable actions of developed and developing countries alike. Disappointingly, the present stall in climate and trade talks may hamper the required stabilization of GHG levels at the level more than 80 percent below current levels, for which Kyoto Protocol has already fallen short.

Grassroots power play

They don't use jargon such as 'climate change' or 'green revolution', but what like-minded villagers in remote areas of southern Thailand are doing is actually working to slow down global warming and promote energy self-reliance. MANIPULATING GRAVITY (left): Locals use simple designs to convert water flowing down a mountainside into energy. The water pushes the blades of a turbine runner connected to a generator; when the runner spins, electricity is produced. Karoon Khunthon, top right, standing next to an old model turbine of his. Supak Hatti, below right, is happy with his newly developed model.

Bangkokians emit CO2 as much as New Yorkers

Bangkok residents produced as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as New Yorkers and surpassed Londoners in their emissions. Both Bangkok and New York emitted 7.1 tons per capita in 2007. Bangkok's emissions were higher than that of London's residents, at 5.9 tons per capita, according to the Bangkok Assessment Report on Climate Change 2009, released today.

In 2005, Bangkok's total emissions of 43m tons almost equaled London and surpassed Toronto (44m tons and 24m tons, respectively). As rising greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), such as carbon dioxide (CO2), are primary contributors of warming temperatures, the likely consequences on the city, already prone to flooding and land subsistence, will be severe. Bangkok and its suburbs are already experiencing more severe and frequent flooding and more days with temperatures beyond 35 ํC.

Internal strife keeps Thailand from climate meet

Bangkok Post

Umesh Pandey

The "cost of democracy" in this country seems to be rising by the day. Apart from the tremendous economic costs that the nation has had to bear, the ongoing political strife seems to be having an impact on the world as well.