Climate change won’t wait while countries dither: Greenpeace (Roundup)

December 8th, 2008 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Poznan (Poland), Dec 8 (IANS) “Every country is just talking about how they cannot do anything to help fight climate change because of the financial crisis,” Cindy Baxter of the international NGO Greenpeace said here Monday. “They all want to wait. But climate change won’t.”As over 3,000 delegates from 186 countries moved their meetings at the Dec 1-12 summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) behind closed doors due to the extended Eid-ul-Zuha weekend, over 5,000 NGO representatives shadowing every move of the negotiators were clearly frustrated.

Even European Commission spokesman Tony Carritt talked about roadblocks, specifically “unforeseen legal complications in making the Adaptation Fund (AF) operational”.

The AF was expected to be the crowning glory of the Poznan summit. If it becomes operational, it will start to help least developed countries (LDC) to adapt to the effects of climate change - lowered farm output, more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms and a rise in the sea level.

The AF now has less than one percent of the $86 billion that developing countries will need every year till 2015 to adapt to climate change effects, according to the 2007 Human Development Report of the UN Development Programme.

The “legal complications” are over how to disburse money from this very small kitty. LDCs have been asking that the UNFCCC secretariat rather than the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the World Bank disburse the money.

GEF has been handling previous money disbursals over climate change, but the LDCs find its processes too cumbersome. But to make this change will require an amendment to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, a process that can take years.

The Poznan summit is currently stuck over this.

It is also stuck over the issue of reforming the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) by which green technology projects in developing countries get money from the carbon trading market.

Even the UN Environment Programme - one of the parents of the UNFCCC - has shown that the CDM process cannot properly account for energy efficiency projects in the building sector. India’s CDM chief R.K. Sethi has spoken repeatedly in the past week of the need for CDM reform.

But that talk is now stuck over whether projects for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) from coal-fired power plants should be included among CDM projects, whether they should be included now, or later, or partially.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer however expressed the hope that the CDM reforms draft would be ready by Wednesday.

According to him: “Closed door meetings are going very well. There are problems emerging, but countries are trying to move forward rather than get stuck in their previously declared positions.”

De Boer said there was a new proposal to set up an international expert group on adaptation to climate change and to set up regional adaptation centres.

While the delegates continued to tinker with such nuts and bolts of a draft global treaty that has to be finalised by the end of 2009, de Boer said over the weekend the whole process had been given a “good push, and we can expect draft decisions by Wednesday”.

There had been 59 new proposals submitted by countries and NGOs on the draft treaty by the Saturday midnight deadline, he added, and the negotiators were now trying to put them all together.

Asked what he expected to see at the end of the Poznan summit, de Boer hoped that the ministerial roundtable on long-term cooperative action to combat climate change, scheduled Thursday afternoon, would come up with a concrete plan.

But the NGOs - who have been the main drivers of action against climate change for 16 years - continued to be unhappy.

“Everyone here is waiting for somebody else,” said Stephanie Tunmore of Greenpeace. “Government officials are waiting for their ministers to arrive and the ministers are waiting for the Obama administration - but the climate crisis waits for nobody. Every day that goes by without progress is cause for alarm.”

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at joydeep.g@ians.in)

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