India seeks ‘ambitious outcome’ at climate summit

December 10th, 2008 - 2:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Poznan (Poland), Dec 10 (IANS) As the ongoing climate change summit gets to its final days amid an overall feeling that nothing is happening, India has sought a strong statement of intent from the international community to fight global warming.The ongoing global financial crisis has had a major adverse impact on the Dec 1-12 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit in this western Poland city.

Industrialised countries have put into the atmosphere almost all the extra greenhouse gases that are warming the world. Climate change is already leading to lowered farm output, more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms and a rise in sea level, with developing countries bearing the brunt of the impacts.

The industrialised countries that had earlier committed financing and technology transfers to developing countries to help them combat climate change are now stepping back, citing lack of money.

The US government delegation, which had obstructed progress towards the fight in earlier summits, is quiet this year, but its place has been taken by Japan, Canada and sometimes New Zealand and Australia.

A Japanese delegate said at a plenary session of the summit that industrialised countries could not be expected to become “the ATMs of the world”.

In this backdrop, as over 9,000 delegates wonder what to do, a senior member of the Indian government delegation said: “My country is impacted (by climate change). I want an ambitious outcome (in Poznan) which is equitable and fair.” The bureaucrat spoke on condition of anonymity.

He pointed out that India had submitted constructive proposals on all areas of action needed to fight climate change, such as a shared vision for long-term cooperative action to fight climate change, how developing countries would take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in ways “measurable, reportable and verifiable” as long as they received the money and the technology to do so and how mechanisms to reduce deforestation and degradation could be improved.

But the Indian delegate did admit that one of the main expected outcomes of the Poznan summit - a “negotiating text” for a global treaty that could be finalised by the end of next year - was unlikely to be ready by Friday.

He said the “negotiating text” would now probably be ready in time for an UNFCCC meeting of all member countries scheduled in Bonn next June, and actual negotiations were likely to start only in September next year.

“But that gives us plenty of time before December,” he said confidently.

In contrast, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer was Tuesday not at all confident of a “fully elaborated outcome” by the next climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. “We should be careful not to reach too far and achieve nothing,” he said.

But he did expect a “clarity on commitments from industrialised countries, including on numbers, for the Copenhagen summit, plus some form of engagement on mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from major developing countries.

“Though what form it will take is not clear to me. Economic development and poverty eradication in developing countries must not be jeopardised.”

The current Poznan summit is the first time ministers are meeting after the Bali summit last year, and the last time they are scheduled to meet before the Copenhagen summit, de Boer pointed out, adding that he expected the ministers to give a strong political push to the negotiators so that the fight against climate change was taken up more vigorously.

Among the many issues over which the Poznan summit is stuck the biggest one is the dispute over who would administer the funds meant for least developed countries (LDCs) to adapt to climate change.

The Adaptation Fund (AF) proposed for LDCs to cope with climate change effects is stuck because these countries want “direct access” to the money without having to go through the onerous processes of the World Bank which administers most environment funds. But industrialised countries are uneasy with the idea.

De Boer said Tuesday that on the AF, “the glass is now two-thirds full. We have agreed on direct access to the fund through accredited national agencies”.

But many LDCs do not have any “accredited national agencies”, and de Boer added the debate about whether their governments could access these funds directly was still going on, and may be left to the ministers to decide.

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at

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