‘Countries must commit to act against global warming’

December 10th, 2008 - 3:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Poznan (Poland), Dec 10 (IANS) As the UN climate change summit nears its end, the man in charge maintains that the event has not been a failure but ministers from all over the world need to send out a strong message that they will act against global warming.Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told IANS in an interview on the sidelines of the Dec 1-12 UN climate change summit: “It may not have grabbed headlines, but we have made progress towards preparing essential building blocks.”

He was referring to building blocks towards a new global treaty on climate change to be finalised before the next summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. That very important process was started (at the last summit) in Bali, Indonesia, with protracted negotiations.

Now, at the halfway mark between Bali and Copenhagen, ministers have the first chance to meet together since the last summit.

They need to show resolve and solidarity and send out a strong message that they will stand seriously behind action to fight climate change, especially on long-term cooperative action among all countries, said de Boer.

Much of the discussions at the Poznan summit have been bogged down by the unwillingness of industrialised countries - hit as they are by global recession - to commit more money to help developing countries combat climate change.

In all major UN conferences, negotiators try to arrive at agreed declarations for the ministers to make. What they cannot agree upon slips into what is called the high-level segment of the conference.

At this Poznan summit, de Boer expects three important decisions to slip into the high-level segment to be left for ministers to hammer out because the bureaucrats had failed to do so:

– The Adaptation Fund (AF) meant to help least developed countries (LDC) live with climate change effects such as decreased farm output, more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms and a rising sea.

“The fund has a small kitty now, de Boer agreed, but I expect CDM (clean development mechanism) projects to increase and to lead to tens of millions of dollars in the fund,” he said. He did not expect major private sector investments into adaptation.

The operationalisation of the AF is stuck because LDCs want direct access to it without having to go through onerous procedures of the World Bank, which administers other environment funds. But industrialised countries are unhappy with the idea of direct access.

– Another issue that will slip into the high-level segment is whether carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects can be included under CDM, now, or later, or partially. CCS is a promising but yet unproven technology to capture carbon emissions and pump them underground. Carbon emissions are the major cause of rise in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, which is leading to climate change.

Many NGOs and some European countries are unhappy with the idea of including CCS in CDM projects because they think that will give dirty fossil fuel technologies a new lease of life.

– De Boer said the statement on long-term cooperative action based on a shared vision of a greener world would also have to be finalised by the ministers.

Another contentious issue at this summit has been overall reform of the CDM process, with even the UN Environment Programme saying it was failing to capture many green projects.

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