Climate summit outcome: We’ll keep talking (Lead)

December 12th, 2008 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Poznan (Poland), Dec 12 (IANS) As the climate change summit wound to a tepid end here Friday, the only big thing governments could agree to was that they would keep talking. For India, the big plus point of the Dec 1-12 summit was that the G77 countries and China had stayed together despite attempts by some industrialised countries to break the grouping.

Despite his inspiring words, even the world’s top green superstar Al Gore appeared resigned that there would be no concrete outcome at the Poznan summit. He asked the over 3,000 delegates from 186 countries to ensure that a new treaty to combat global warming was in place by the end of next year.

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer had already dampened expectation from this summit by saying: “This is a blue-collar conference, about getting a job done and not about a spectacle or a breakthrough. It has agreed on the agenda for negotiations in the coming year”.

In other words, they would keep talking.

A senior member of the Indian government delegation told IANS Friday: “Anyway we had not expected much out of this summit. But we’re satisfied on two counts. One the G77 and China stayed united, despite new efforts by some industrialised countries to split the group.

“Two, some industrialised countries tried to wriggle out of their commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, by shifting it to the long-term cooperative action plan, but they did not succeed.”

Climate change is being caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, mostly by industrialised countries and is already leading to lowered farm output, more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms and a rise in sea level.

Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, industrialised countries are supposed to reduce their emissions by five percent from 1990 levels during the 2008-2012 period, though almost all of them have actually increased their emissions.

The Poznan summit was an important halfway mark to the deadline of December 2009 by which a global treaty must be negotiated for the post 2012 period.

Despite the lack of any substantive outcome here, that negotiation process remains on track, and Al Gore said he could see that “the road to Copenhagen was open”. The next summit will take place in the Danish capital.

As the final sessions of the Poznan summit started, there was still no agreement on actually making operational a fund that would help least developed countries adapt to climate change effects. At the beginning of the summit, it was hoped that this would be its crowning glory.

There has been zero movement over technology transfer to and financing for developing countries to help them move towards a greener economy, or over reforming the clean developing mechanism that has been set up to pay developing countries for green projects.

The idea of paying developing countries to halt deforestation has only moved to methodologies over how to measure the benefit it provides in terms of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Part of the reason for the lack of breakthroughs was that the European Union - which had earlier provided leadership in the combat against climate change - was too busy finalising its own energy and environment policy at the same time to pay much attention to the summit here.

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

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