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UN Climate talks begin in Bangkok

By Kirsten E. Silven - 06 Apr 2011 6:4:0 GMT
UN Climate talks begin in Bangkok

According to the AFP, the first of this year's United Nations climate talks began Tuesday amidst a feud over which countries should be required to cut greenhouse gas emissions according to a revised version of the Kyoto Protocol. With four days of negotiations scheduled this week, this meeting is a precursor to the larger, more important annual UN Climate Summit, which is scheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa in November of this year

In her opening address, UN executive secretary Christiana Figueres brought up agreements that were made in last year's climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, warning that these remain in jeopardy as long as a disagreement prevails regarding Kyoto, reported the AFP. ''The full implementation of the Cancun agreements can only become an important step forward for the climate if there’s a responsible and clear way ahead on the Kyoto Protocol,'' she said.

Aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for global warming, since 1997 the Kyoto Protocol has held most developed nations to a set of legally binding commitments that are due to expire in late 2012. In order to enact a continuation of these restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, it is necessary to come to some agreement by the November 2011 climate summit.

Central to the argument against continuing the protocol is the fact that both the US and China are excluded from the agreement, despite the fact that the two nations are the world's biggest polluters. As a result, the Kyoto Protocol only has an effect on 30 percent of the world's total annual emissions.

Although countries like Japan and Australia have gone on record stating they would agree to another series of commitments only if all major polluters were involved in the new agreement, the US and China have given no indication at this time that they will participate in a second phase of emission reduction.