ภัยธรรมชาติ : Natural Disasters

Taking stock of Post-Copenhagen: where are we heading

The high level climate talk that just ended in Koenigswinter, West Germany yesterday was hailed as an ice-breaking event. I wonder what was the carbon footprints this event generated to just "break the ice", supposed to pave a way to Cancun talk in November.

This, however, is a necessary step to ensure that UN climate talk remains on track, and continued to be supported. To recapture the failures in Copenhagen, again, among the complexity of emerging item agendas and "the building block approach" devised in Copenhagen, I see at least four major stumbling blocks that would have to be overcome for a successful negotiation:

Q&A: Ecological Crisis: Next Challenge for World Social Forum

Ten years after its founding, the World Social Forum (WSF) has come to represent a rallying point for activists and grassroots groups committed to shaping an alternative world view.

"It is very important that we have this space for all of us to come together and shape a vision that reflects our concerns," says Nicola Bullard, a senior associate of Focus on the Global South, a Bangkok-based think tank championing issues that matter to people in the developing world. "We have been able to build our own discourse, our own thinking, our own legitimacy."

On climate change, Thailand is not cutting it

Here we go again. Thursday it was India that joined the ranks of developing economies to announce significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in advance of the United Nations climate change discussions that begin in Copenhagen today.

So where is Thailand? When are we going to demonstrate any seriousness about our role in reducing emissions? After all, scientists warn that we're poised to receive a disproportionate share of the impact of global climate change. Our shores and coastal communities will be significantly impacted if the world as a whole does not start embarking on a major CO2 diet. Bangkok in particular will face major problems from flooding and sea level rise but, so far, hardly a word from our nation's leaders who reside here.

Vanishing islands look to the world

Taukiei Kitara has travelled a long way from the South Pacific island of Tuvalu to get a simple message across to the thousands of international delegates attending the climate change talks in Bangkok. He wants to tell them that if they don't do something, and fast, rising sea levels will swamp the low-lying tropical islands located midway between Australia and Hawaii he calls home. "I want the world to know that we are one of the most vulnerable countries, and we are here," said Mr Kitara.

But the fisherman-turned-activist has failed so far to get the 4,000 climate change negotiators to lift their heads out of technical texts and come up with a timely solution for people like him. The Bangkok meeting is the second last before the crucial Copenhagen talks later in the year, where it's hoped a climate pact will be struck to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

Time running out: Thai PM

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday urged world leaders to cooperate urgently and find a solution to the stalemate in setting greenhouse gas emission targets for nations while Thailand is doing little beyond lip services to reduce its own emissions.

Delivering a keynote speech to mark the opening of the two-week meeting, which is part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Abhisit said the gathering was able to renew society's collective engagement on the issue of climate change at the very highest levels.

However, Thailand with its emissions ranked 22nd among countries with highest outflows of greenhouse gases has done little in the past decade to contribute to prevent anthropogenic global warming. Kingkorn Naraintarakul of Thai Climate Justice Network said while Thailand does not have the compulsory emissions reduction target, it should set its own voluntary target to combat climate change.

Factbox: Key issues on the table at Bangkok climate talks

Delegates at U.N. climate talks in Bangkok are trying to whittle down a complex negotiating text that will form the basis of a broader global pact to curb the pace of climate change.

The two-week talks are crucial because negotiators have very little time to trim the options and alternative wording proposals in the 180-page text with just over two months to go before a Dec. 7-18 climate meeting in Copenhagen.

Following are some of the main issues being discussed in Bangkok.

Copenhagen Update: What is in it for Thailand?

The global climate change negotiation, known as COP15, or the 15th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will take place in Copenhagen the end of this year. The meeting aims to ambitiously complete part of the 2007 Bali Roadmap, among others, to come up with a new comprehensive protocol to replace the Kyoto Protocol, produced in 1997 as a legal-binding treaty under the UNFCCC. It is a race against time as the Kyoto Protocol is set to expire in 2012.

Dangers seem to be hidden and would appear as a true challenge between now and December. I strongly believe that a Plan B is needed to ground and ensure measurable actions of developed and developing countries alike. Disappointingly, the present stall in climate and trade talks may hamper the required stabilization of GHG levels at the level more than 80 percent below current levels, for which Kyoto Protocol has already fallen short.

It's a question of taste: Assam tea under climate threat

IT'S KNOWN for its strong body and flavour. But now, threatened by a long dry spell, Assam tea is facing the adverse effects of climate change. An official at the Regional Meteorological Centre in Guwahati says that the region has been rain deficient through the last decade. In fact, in its National Action Plan on Climate Change, the central government has observed a warming trend in the north-east that is linked to overall global warming.

Now, scientists at Tocklai Experimental Station, the world's oldest tea research institute - based in Jorhat in Assam - have started exploring the overall impact of abiotic stress, climate change and temperature on the quality of Assam tea.

Grassroots power play

They don't use jargon such as 'climate change' or 'green revolution', but what like-minded villagers in remote areas of southern Thailand are doing is actually working to slow down global warming and promote energy self-reliance. MANIPULATING GRAVITY (left): Locals use simple designs to convert water flowing down a mountainside into energy. The water pushes the blades of a turbine runner connected to a generator; when the runner spins, electricity is produced. Karoon Khunthon, top right, standing next to an old model turbine of his. Supak Hatti, below right, is happy with his newly developed model.

Mekong nations must prepare for climate change

The Nation

Pongphon Sarnsamak

Countries in the Mekong River Basin should learn how to predict climate change and develop ways to adapt to it, a Bangkok seminar was told yesterday. Then they will understand how to effectively reduce the adverse impact this climate change threatens to have on the region.