Climate summit finale saddest moment: Indian delegate

December 13th, 2008 - 10:56 am ICT by IANS  

Poznan (Poland), Dec 13 (IANS) The climate summit ended in the early hours of Saturday with the collapse of a key deal to pay developing countries to cope with global warming. The senior-most member of the Indian government delegation said: “This is one of the saddest moments I have witnessed” during his attendance in 12 such summits.The Dec 1-12 summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in this western Poland city had been stalled for much of Friday over whether industrialised countries would give to developing countries facing climate change effects a larger portion of the money they make by trading carbon emission permits.

The scheme collapsed inside the closed meeting rooms when the industrialised countries did not agree to increase from two to three the percentage of levy from the carbon market. An Indian government delegate who had been present at the meeting said the naysayers were led by the European Union, Japan, Canada, Australia and Russia.

The collapse became evident about three hours into the start of the final plenary session of the summit which started at 10.45 p.m. Friday. Before that, Poland’s Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki, the president of the Conference of Parties (CoP), as the summit is called, had joyfully announced that an Adaptation Fund that would provide money to least developed countries (LDC) to cope with climate change effects had become operational at the Poznan summit.

It was India which brought the collapse out into the open, with Prodipto Ghosh, member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, saying: “In the 12 CoPs I have been privileged to attend so far, this is one of the saddest moments I have witnessed”.

Ghosh said the Article 9 review, which was looking at the increase of the levy from two to three percent, “fell apart for one, and one reason only. That is, the refusal of some parties (countries) to experience the least loss of profits from trading in carbon”.

“Let us look at why this refusal is tragic and painful,” Ghosh told those of the over 3,000 delegates from 186 countries who were still left in the final plenary session.

“Even now, millions of poor people in developing countries are losing their homes, their livelihoods, and their lives from impacts of climate change. Most live in extreme privation at the best of times; climate change takes away their pitiable homes, hearths and bread.

“What did the developing countries want?

“That while the world fills in the bigger picture, to use the only instrument now available to raise resources that are undeniably modest in relation to the need to provide some measure of relief to these poor masses.”

Instead, said Ghosh, “what did we hear from the parties who could not bear to be parted from a small share of their carbon profits? That we need to agree on the overall architecture before they can provide any money.

“In the face of the unbearable human tragedy that we in developing countries see unfolding every day, we see callousness, strategising and obfuscation.

“We can all of us, now see clearly what lies ahead at Copenhagen.”

Summing up the Poznan summit, Nowicki said: “I fully understand and support the feelings of disappointment expressed by some countries”. Ghosh’s feelings had been echoed by delegates from Pakistan, Gabon, Bolivia and Maldives, who spoke on behalf of LDCs.

Despite that, Nowicki said, he would consider the Poznan summit had made important progress by operationalising the Adaptation Fund.

“I believe our meeting in Poznan has indeed been an important stepping stone on the road to Copenhagen,” Nowicki concluded.

Speaking to reporters after the end of the summit, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer also characterised the summit as a success because it had launched the Adaptation Fund, had made advances in helping reduce deforestation and because countries could now start negotiating a deal that had to be concluded by the end of next year.

Referring to the sentiments expressed by India at the final session, de Boer admitted that the summit “had caused some bitterness because it proved impossible to raise all funds for adaptation”. He felt that all countries were hardening their positions as negotiations were about to start.

“Let’s be honest about it,” de Boer said. “Developed countries see the additionality (in financing) as part of an overall package” for the Copenhagen treaty. He did not think that the notion of providing more money to developing countries to help them with climate change was “abhorrent to industrialised countries, but politically this was just not the time to do it”.

Climate change, caused by increase in greenhouse gas emissions, mostly by industrialised countries, is already lowering farm output, leading to more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms and raising the sea level, with developing countries bearing the brunt.

(Joydeep Gupta can be contacted at

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