Intensive schedule of UN climate talks demands a bigger effort from all countries, says Oxfam

Published: 7 April 2008

Bangkok – International agency Oxfam applauded the ambitious schedule of negotiations agreed today at the UNFCCC meetings in Bangkok, but warned that it must now be matched by a huge extra effort from every country to achieve a deal worth signing.

“We need leadership and commitment now, given the urgency of tackling climate change from poor peoples’ perspective. Developing countries made this urgency crystal clear in Bangkok,” said Oxfam climate change spokesperson Antonio Hill.

Hill said developing countries were right to call for more urgent and ambitious targets to guide negotiations because poor people feel the impacts of climate change first and worst. “Micronesia told the meeting that it would be unacceptable for any country to agree a deal that would jeopardize the existence of any member state. This should be a fundamental benchmark for the success of the negotiations,” Hill said.

“The equation is very simple: the more ambitious the targets, the lower the risks poor people face,” Hill said. Oxfam believes that in setting emissions reduction targets, rich countries especially must consider the climate risks that poor people face now and in the future.

Oxfam observed that a struggle was visible in the talks this week, even though they were focused mostly on timing and content of future negotiations. Countries have different opinions about the final ambition and who is most responsible for taking action. “Delegates must keep focused on the prize,” Hill said. “At the next session in Bonn, we need to see all countries making positive proposals that are proportional to the huge challenge we face, and we need to see rich countries ready to move first and fastest.”

Oxfam also is concerned that the poorest countries will need help to stay fully involved over the next 18 months of talks leading up to the post-2012 agreement expected in Copenhagen in December 2009. “Unless poor countries get immediate support, they will slowly be condemned to the sidelines of what is probably the most complex deal the UN has ever undertaken. This would ultimately make for a bad outcome,” said Hill.

“Poor countries must have an equal voice because they stand to lose most if a deal falters or gets watered down,” Hill said. Oxfam says that the UN must meet in cities where poor countries have missions, rather than roaming over the planet. Rich countries must invest in technical support and information sharing with poor countries and in training negotiators.

Developing countries are negotiating the deal as a bloc called the G77 and China. Poor countries still need help to punch their weight both within this group and at the UN itself. “Talks this week were structured to help small delegations keep up, but poor countries will find it difficult to continue the pace demanded by the UN agenda. The UNFCCC Secretariat only has travel budget for one delegate per developing country. By contrast, the EU had more than 130 delegates registered in Bangkok this week, and Japan 35,” Hill said.

Oxfam welcomed the focus on adaptation, but said that financing must go through the UN Adaptation Fund rather than through a parallel fund at the World Bank. “The Adaptation Fund is only four months old. Poor countries are concerned it is already being undermined. Any parallel fund could dilute its effectiveness and risks becoming an unaccountable distraction inconsistent with UN agreements,” said Hill.

Contact Information

For more information, please contact: Surasak Glahan, Oxfam Regional Media Coordinator, East Asia
+66 818553196 (mobile), +66 2656 7615 - Ext 117 (office)