ASEAN urged to advance its position at the Bangkok UN climate talks

Press release - March 31, 2011
The A-FAB coalition today urged ASEAN countries to show leadership and advance a strong common position in the international climate change talks for the sake of the region’s people. A-FAB, or the Coalition on ASEAN for a Fair, Ambitious and Binding Climate Deal, composed of Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF, made the call in Bangkok on the eve of the United Nations climate talks due to be held next week in the Thai capital.

The group believes that the ASEAN’s practical and political stakes in the climate negotiations are high.  Southeast Asian countries, with their extensive and populated coastlines and location within the so-called “ring of fire,” are considered among the most vulnerable to climate change and disasters.  Although the region is teeming with natural resources, especially marine life and forests, it is also a region that is for the most part marred by chronic poverty and even conflict.  

“A-FAB believes that the ASEAN as a group must take the climate negotiations more seriously by presenting a strong and unified negotiating voice.  The current reality demands closer collaboration and stronger mandates that will enable the ASEAN to push harder for a fair, ambitious and binding climate deal on which the region’s survival depends.  In Bangkok, the  ASEAN must now accelerate its processes and positions as the finer details of the Cancun Agreements are discussed and resistance from developed countries is mounting,” said Atty. Zelda Soriano, Policy Advisor, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

During COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico, ASEAN demonstrated a modest show of force as then chair, Vietnam, reaffirmed the body’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol and called for “comprehensive, effective and binding outcomes,” that accounts for a “common but differentiated responsibilities.”  Prior to this, ASEAN created an ASEAN Working Group on Climate Change (AWGCC) that in turn formed the ASEAN Climate Change Initiative (ACCI), a regional consultative platform.  But at present, the ACCI lacks the mandate to successfully achieve its objective, that is, to sharpen and consolidate ASEAN’s position at the UNFCCC.

A-FAB is therefore additionally calling on ASEAN to convene a high-level meeting that will strengthen the mandate of AWGCC and ACCI and in the process facilitate the participation of broader communities in the climate negotiations.  Should it push through, the high-level meeting will happen at an opportune time as the first intersessional is being hosted by Thailand, an ASEAN member state.  Moreover, ASEAN’s current chair, Indonesia carries the theme “ASEAN community in the global community” which implies a more active diplomacy and a more consultative participation in international governance processes such as the UNFCCC.

“The establishment of the A-FAB shows that there is an emerging ASEAN constituency that is concerned about the decisions and steps undertaken by the ASEAN to address climate change.  This calls for greater openness for ASEAN, the regional body, to be more engaging and accountable to the regional communities that are gravely affected by climate change and the threats it represents.  We see active engagement as ASEAN’s way of keeping its commitments under its newly-adopted Charter, which in the first place was created to ensure the responsiveness of the regional bloc to its communities, and in this context, taking a higher ground in responding to the threats of climate change,” said Shalimar Vitan, East Asia Regional Policy and Campaigns Coordinator, Oxfam.

AFAB is forwarding some policy recommendations for ASEAN in the Bangkok intersessional. Among these is the assurance that the newly created Adaptation Committee consists primarily of developing countries, follows a country-driven and gender-sensitive approach in the development of national adaptation policies and programs, and is linked to financing mechanisms. ASEAN must ensure that adaptation gets much of the resources from the new Green Climate Fund established in Cancun, as it is more urgently needed by the majority of the poor population. A-FAB likewise urges ASEAN to push for the peaking of global emissions by 2015 and to demand 40 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction by developed countries by 2020, and at least a 95 percent cut below 1990 levels by 2050.  Another task is to decide on the most accurate and appropriate measurable, reportable and verifiable (MRV) instruments in ascertaining GHG emissions reduction.

Set up by the coalition of Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF, ASEAN for a Fair, Ambitious and Binding Global Climate Deal (A-FAB) aims to sharpen and strengthen ASEAN’s position as a regional bloc at the UNFCCC and as a community that collectively struggles to avert the impacts of climate change. Moreover, it intends to complement ASEAN’s attempts at ensuring the participation of its “community in the global community,” following the increasing processes which put its Charter at work.

For more information:

  • Zelda Soriano, Policy Advisor,  Greenpeace Southeast Asia, , +66 879 568 536, +63 917 594 9424
  • Shalimar Vitan, East Asia Regional Policy and Campaigns Coordinator, Oxfam, , +63 917 862 6314

For media-related inquiries:

  • Lea Guerrero, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, , +66 850 705 552, +63 908 885 1140
  • Uamdao Noikorn (Ben), Oxfam, , +66 818 553 196
  • Wiriya Kingwatcharapong, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, , +66 894 870 678

Learn more about the A-Fab Coalition at