Climate Talks in Bangkok Hit Hurdle Over Financial Pledge
Commercial and residential buildings stand shrouded in smog, reflected in a mirror, in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg)

Climate Talks in Bangkok Hit Hurdle Over Financial Pledge

(Bloomberg) -- Climate negotiators in Bangkok made progress on several issues to set a framework for implementing the landmark 2015 Paris accord, but hit a stumbling block over details behind a plan for developed countries to spend $100 billion a year to finance projects in the developing world.

The extra round of negotiations in Bangkok from Sept. 4 to Sept. 9 was meant to deliver progress in preparation for a final round of talks in December in Katowice, Poland, said United Nations Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa in a briefing in Bangkok ahead of the meeting’s close.

“Only limited progress has been achieved here in Bangkok,” said Espinosa. “For Katowice to be successful, work needs to be sped up.”

Delegates from 178 nations spent the week narrowing down options for a rule book for the Paris accord, in which rich and poor nations alike pledged for the first time to limit greenhouse gases. Ministers are expected to take final decisions in Katowice.


The talks in Bangkok were an extra round needed because not enough progress was made at the previous gathering in Bonn in May. The U.S. is involved in the talks, even though President Donald Trump has vowed to pull out of the Paris deal.

The rule book will outline how countries should meet their Paris goals, including how developed nations will help finance projects in developing ones. The rich nations’ spending commitment is due to start in 2020.

Details about the financing were among the most contentious topics in Bangkok. Poorer countries want developed nations to report on their pledges every two years, while developed countries argue that their budgetary cycles make that difficult.

Disagreements also arose over how countries should be treated when it comes to reporting progress. Developing countries are arguing that they should be given more leniency since they don’t have the same resources.

Carbon Credits

The chasms on such issues were so wide that delegates were unable to narrow down the options for those parts of the rule book, and instead asked the co-chairpersons of the panel to keep working on the text after the summit’s end.

Delegates did produce draft negotiating texts outlining options for new global carbon markets under Paris. Countries will be able to voluntarily trade emission-reduction credits bilaterally, or via a new international program, known as the Sustainable Development Mechanism.

On markets, “we’re better off now than going in,” Henrik Hallgrim Eriksen, Norway’s chief climate negotiator, said in an interview . “There are many different options and possibilities. It’s not a meeting where things have been resolved.”

EU carbon allowances, which trade in the world’s biggest emissions market, surged on Friday to their highest in a decade.

Climate Talks in Bangkok Hit Hurdle Over Financial Pledge

In Bangkok, the envoys proposed to create new supervisory bodies to oversee the planned markets. They listed four options for structuring the body overseeing the SDM, one of which would see it fashioned like the existing Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board.

It would create a registry to track transactions between nations and provide a basis for accounting. Credits created can be used by buying countries to help meet emission targets listed under Paris. These limits will probably be set by nations every five or 10 years.

There were five options for rules that will govern how nations choose the projects or programs that would be allowed to generate credits under the SDM. Under the CDM, for instance, China generated credits for cutting industrial emissions and building windfarms -- those reductions were purchased by utilities covered by Europe’s carbon market, cutting the cost of compliance.

Carbon markets will incentivize the private sector to find emission reductions wherever in the world they are cheapest to deliver, reducing the cost of climate protection.

Envoys still haven’t decided whether or not existing UN credits will be eligible in the post-2020 regime, with both those options among those still on the table.

Delegates and environmentalists at the conference said one only needed to look at the natural disasters around the world, from wildfires in the U.S. and Europe to floods and storms across Asia, to see how the climate is impacting people’s lives.

“We need to make faster progress.” said Taehyun Park, Greenpeace East Asia gobal climate political advisor. “Climate change is no longer a far off threat, it is something we’re all facing in the real world today, with devastating effect.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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