Sunday, October 11, 2009

WAT-ching Thailand 3: The Elephant in the Room

“There is an elephant in the room!”

The pretty Venezuelan negotiator is referring to the United States --- a country who did not sign the Kyoto Protocol but is a party to the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change --- and its refusal to commit in reducing domestic green house gas emissions by at least 40% in 2020 from 1990 levels, and provide financing to help vulnerable countries in their adaptation to and mitigation of the effects of climate change.

Ambassador Lumumba D’Aping of Sudan who chairs the Group of 77 and China bloc said that the US wants to kill the Kyoto Protocol and replace it with a less ambitious and non-binding international treaty. But the G77 and China, the Least Developing Countries bloc, the Africa Group, and the Alliance of Small Island States insist that there is no other mandate for negotiations than the Kyoto Protocol.

Perhaps the US is wary of the Kyoto Protocol that will bind it to a historical responsibility in polluting the atmosphere which spawned global warning and caused climate change. But polluters should pay and rightly so.

With the US stalling, the European Union --- erstwhile champion of the Kyoto Protocol --- wavered and toed its big brother’s line. Big brother and small brother did not budge despite Japan’s announcement that it is increasing its green house gas emission reduction target to 25% followed by Norway’s commitment to a 40% target.

As the 2009 Bangkok Climate Change Talks talks broke down, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos count their dead from an unprecedented storm many said is a tangible example of the impact of climate change. And as if in protest, the earth shuddered perhaps in anger leaving thousands more dead in a violent swath of earthquakes and a tsunami.

The battle lines between the developed/rich countries and the developing and least developed countries were clearly drawn by the end of the talks. The elephant has squeezed itself into the room.

“Yesterday’s land grab, modern day’s sky grab”. Thus ended Venezuela’s intervention and an indictment of those who refused to change their way of lives at the expense of others.

Profile: Wat Saket and a Plate of Pansit

Wat Saket or the Temple of the Golden Mount was built during the Ayutthaya era (1351-1767) as a crematorium and cemetery. It was renovated in the late 18th century when an artificial hill was added to support the huge Chedi or stupa shown here.
The pansit photo after Wat Saket shows a plate of Pad Thai along Khao San Road. This Thai national dish is a magic potion of stir fried noodles, eggs, been sprouts, shrimp, chicken, or tofu blended together in an oriental flavor of sour tamarind juice, hot chili, and salty fish sauce. A garnish of ground peanuts and coriander adds to it a a nutty and pungent flavor.

The first 2 photos above shows diplomats during the somber mid stock-taking of the Bangkok climate change talks, and protesters outside the UNESCAP building demand climate justice.

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