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It’s crunch time in Bangkok

Published 28th September 2009 - 3 comments - 1116 views -

The UN climate talks starting today in Bangkok are the penultimate negotiation session before the Copenhagen’s summit, in December.

Obama, do something!

These two-week talks will provide a stronger picture of whether the United States are willing, or not, to step up and provide the political momentum desperately needed to overcome the current stalemate in negotiations.

Two key sticking points remain. First, the emissions reductions developed countries are willing to deliver – current commitments are around 15% instead of the science-based 40% reductions on 1990 levels by 2020. Second, the money they will put on the table for developing countries to both adapt to the impacts of climate change and develop in a sustainable way.

Recent announcements by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the European Union on climate financing, and Japan and China’s stronger language last week on emissions reductions and finance, hopefully will put extra pressure on the US to step up its game.

Let’s now look at the human side of the story, by taking, as an example, the region where the negotiations are happening. 

The human cost of climate change in South-East Asia

We’ve just seen it the Philippines: floods have killed at least 86 people, some 80% of Manila is said to be under water, with 435,000 people displaced, the BBC reports today.  

South-East Asia is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change due to its long coastlines, high concentration of population and economic activity in coastal areas, and heavy reliance on agriculture, natural resources and forestry.

Extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, floods and tropical cyclones have increased in frequency and intensity in recent decades in this region, according to the United Nations. This is exacerbating water shortages, hampering agricultural production and threatening food security, causing forest fires and coastal degradation, and increasing health risks.  

“Don't put all your eggs in one basket”, a short film produced by development agency Oxfam, shows how organic rice farmers in Yasothorn province, Northeastern Thailand, adapt to climate change by using diversified crops and irrigation.


As part of the Copenhagen deal, it is vital rich countries provide money to help developing nations adapt to the devastating effects global warming is having on their people.

The Asian Development Bank estimates that for Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam as a whole, the cost of adaptation for the agriculture and coastal zones (mainly for the construction of sea walls and development of drought and heat-resistant crops) will be about US $5 billion per year by 2020 on average. 

Category: Agriculture, UN Climate Change Conference 2009, | Tags: agriculture, adaptation, money, people,


Fidelius on 28th September 2009:

Thank you for reconnecting the negotiations, often discussed only in terms of the power, strategy or overall targets and from the perspective of politicians and states, to realities of affected communities. To make the step back to the negotiating table, are the current pledges anywhere near the sum you cite necessary for adaptation in SE-Asia in your post?

Angela Corbalan on 29th September 2009:

Thanks, Fidelius, for the comment & the question.

A couple of weeks ago, the European Commission came up publicly on how much money (under the new Copenhagen deal) is needed from all rich countries to help developing nations adapt to climate change and reduce their emissions. They’re overall figures, not split by regions.

They said “22 - 50 billion euros per year in public finance by 2020”. Out of these, 10-24 billion euros would be for ADAPTATION (what the Thai farmers in the video are talking about).

Since climate change is already devastating lives across poor countries, green and development NGOs believe this is not enough. They say rich nations should provide at least 40 billion euros per year for adaptation measures, starting as soon as possible.
The EC also proposed 5-7 billion euros per year for the most urgent adaptation needs of poor countries to be made available quickly, in 2012 - 2013. NGOs welcomed the money but think it should be made available ASAP (2010).

It’s been the very first time that any negotiating block has put money on the table. It’s the European Commission’s opinion, not the official EU position though, but still, it’s seen as a good step to start breaking the current deadlock in negotiations. Europe is expected to put on the table its official financing offer for Copenhagen at its next EU summit, at the end of October. Fingers crossed.

search the internet on 21st October 2009:

What a great post. What an inspiration for everyone who is asking ‘Where is all this stuff I’ve asked for?’ and getting frustrated. I am in love the way you express yourself, and I thank you for doing it with such passion and honest reflection.
video tips

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