Bangkok: United Nations talks aimed at combating global warming began today with countries feuding over who should commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions
under an updated Kyoto Protocol.
The four days of negotiations in Bangkok are the first for the year, kicking off a race to try and achieve consensus on a wide range of hot-button issues in time for a crucial
annual UN climate summit in South Africa in November.
In her opening address to the talks, UN climate chief Christiana Figueres warned that breakthroughs made at the last summit in the Mexican resort of Cancun could be jeopardised by the stalemate over the Kyoto Protocol.
"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," Figueres said.
Signed in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol saw most developed nations agree to legally binding commitments on curbing their greenhouse gas emissions that are blamed for global warming.
Those commitments are due to expire at the end of 2012 and, if there is to be a second round of legally binding pledges, they would need to be made at the UN`s next climate summit in Durban.
But Japan and Russia have firmly opposed extending the protocol because it excludes the world`s two biggest polluters -- China and the United States -- and therefore only covers
about 30 per cent of global emissions.
Australia has also said it would only agree to a second round of commitments if all major emitters were part of the process.
Developing countries, including China, did not have to commit to cutting emissions as part of the Kyoto Protocol and most of them maintain this should remain the case.
Meanwhile, the United States, which refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, has given no indication it would agree to any future legally binding emission reduction commitments.
In the first session of the Bangkok talks, parties gave few signs of changing their positions.
Delegates from a diverse range of developing countries, including China, Tuvalu, Egypt and Venezuela, insisted that rich nations must commit to a second phase of
emission reduction commitments at the Durban summit.