Sun, Dec 14, 2008 - Page 1 News List

UN talks set program for climate pact late next year

AFP , POZNAN, POLAND

An international forum on climate change hammered out a work schedule on Saturday designed to end in a treaty for expunging the darkening threat to mankind from greenhouse gases.

In the pre-dawn hours, the 192-member UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Poland set down a program of work that, it declared, would conclude with a historic pact in Copenhagen next December.

Taking effect after 2012, the deal will set down unprecedented measures for curbing emissions of heat-trapping carbon gases and helping poor countries in the firing line of climate change.

“Poznan is the place where the partnership between the developing and developed world to fight climate change has shifted beyond rhetoric and turned into real action,” said Polish Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki, who chaired the meeting.

UNFCCC members will submit proposals for the treaty’s text in the early months of next year.

By June, these will then be condensed from what is likely to be a massive document into a blueprint for negotiations.

“Last year was the year of exchanging ideas and developing a good atmosphere in the process and asking each other questions,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer said at a press conference. “Now we are moving into a negotiating mode and it’s going to be a very heavy agenda. But as in any marathon, you need to do some really fast running at the end, not at the beginning.”

The agreement sets the stage for a year-long process revolving around two big issues: who should make the biggest sacrifices on curbing greenhouse gases, and how to beef up support for poor countries exposed to climate change.

The 12-day meeting ended with a two-day ministerial-level gathering that, despite flourishes of rhetoric, failed to make any big advances.

It opened the way to launching a so-called Adaptation Fund for helping poor countries that are most exposed to change. But, to the disappointment of Brazil, India and other emerging countries, it yielded no accord on how to boost the fund’s income to the scale of billions of dollars per year — a level that many experts say will be needed in a few decades.

Environmental groups blasted the outcome at Poznan. The World Wide Fund for Nature described it as a “major missed opportunity” to thrash out concessions on slashing greenhouse-gas emissions.

“This was a moment in time when real leaders would have stepped up and taken the positions that would combat the economic and climate crisis at the same time,” the group said.

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