Optimism fading for Poland climate talks
Hopes of laying a solid foundation for a post-Kyoto climate pact in 2009 are diminishing, as representatives from 189 nations gathered in Poznań, Poland, squabble over financing methods.
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Delegates met for the two-week COP14 talks held in the western Polish industrial city hope to set the stage for a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocols, which expire in 2012. The details of the new climate pact are set to be agreed upon in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
But the current talks, which close Friday, are proceeding more slowly than expected, casting into doubt hopes of a comprehensive climate treaty next year: "We’re working under a very tight timeline," said UN climate chief Yvo de Boer, according to Bloomberg's Alex Morales. "I don’t think where we are now it is going to be feasible to develop a fully elaborated, long-term response to climate change in Copenhagen."
Even if the resulting deal from Poznań lacks specifics, says Mr. de Boer, it could still give participants something to work with. “My sense is that we should be careful not to reach too far and achieve nothing,” de Boer told Bloomberg. “What we need to reach in Copenhagen is clarity on the key political issues so that everything after Copenhagen is settling the details and not negotiating fundamentals."
The haves and the want-to-haves
At the heart of much of the disagreement is that perennial struggle between rich and poor. Developing countries want industrialized countries – whose populations are responsible the lion's share of greenhouse emissions – to lead the way by making the steepest reductions in emissions. They also want money and technology to help them make their own emissions cuts and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
According to the Guardian, in Britain, European Union officials have proposed making an 80 percent to 95 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2050 in exchange for developing countries' reducing their emissions by 15 percent to 30 percent over the next decade. They have not yet heard a reaction, but Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, said that the developed world is unlikely to be impressed by the offer, which does not mandate any short-term cuts for rich countries.
"Unless the developed world comes up with strong, clear targets for 2020 themselves," Dr. Pachauri told the Guardian, "I think it is unlikely the developing world will commit itself to reductions."
According to Reuters, the United Nations will ask developed countries to contribute $1 billion for urgent projects in the poorest countries to help them adapt to floods, droughts, crop failures, and other impacts of global warming. So far, rich countries have committed only $172 million, with Germany, Denmark, Britain, and the Netherlands kicking in the most. The United States has yet to contribute any money.