01 December 2008

Analysis: Global financial crisis casts shadow over Poznan talks on global climate

by Wei Jianhua, Liu Xiang, Xinhua, November 30, 2008

POZNAN, Poland, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Delegates from over 190 nations are scheduled to meet here Monday, trying to reach consensus in order to seal an agreement at the Copenhagen meeting next year to replace the current Kyoto Protocol that is to expire in 2012.

However, the contagious global financial crisis has made consensus a even more uphill task as governments now are more reluctant to make further concessions because they may have no spare money or resources to deal with climate change after channeling billions of dollars to shore up their faltering economy.

Poznan faces uphill task

The Poznan talks are an important half-way session in the two-year negotiating process since the Bali conference last December of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aimed at moving from discussion to negotiation by tabling a negotiating text for a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol.

Since the Bali talks, two major meetings have been held in Thailand and Germany to gap differences, but no substantial progress has been made.

The ongoing financial crisis cast fresh shadow over the upcoming Poznan talks as many experts believe governments who are channeling billions of dollars to rally their economies and consumer confidence won't have enough money and resources to tackle the climate change.

The UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer has said "Climate change is an environmental problem looking for an economic answer."

He has also ridiculously called the Poznan conference a "fortunate" meeting because there have no specific deal to reach.

"It's fortunate that we haven't a deal to be done in Poznan," Boer said at a press conference in the Bonn headquarters two weeks before the conference, implying the difficulties of achieving any noticeable progress here.

Fate of possible new agreement uncertain

Now the world is pinning hopes on next U.S. government's attitude towards such a deal.

Expectations run high for a deal in Copenhagen since the United States has made a U-turn in Bali, Indonesia, last December by adopting the Bali Roadmap on climate change at the last minute.

The Bush administration has rejected the UN-capping Kyoto Protocol, saying such a concrete emission cut would jeopardize its already sluggish economy.

Signs have shown that president-elect Barack Obama will not follow Bush's policy on climate change. "I will help lead the world toward a new era of global cooperation on climate change," Obama said over a week ago.

Inside the Europe Union, countries still split over an EU climate pact, which demands the continent cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 percent by 2020.

Poland and seven other European countries --Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and the Czech Republic -- worry the EU pact would worsen an economic slowdown.

Another lingering problem is the difference between the developed countries and the poorer developing ones.

Major developing countries including China and India uphold the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities for global warming, calling for developed nations to take the lead in mitigating the adverse effects of the human disaster and transferring free technology to the poor.

Though the UNFCCC has already adopted the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities," some developed nations stillinsist that the developing nations also be committed to the same sort of emission cuts as industrialized nations.

The developed nations are also reluctant in transferring advanced technology to poor countries to help them combat climate change.

Editor: Lu Hui
Copyright ©2003 Xinhua News Agency. All rights reserved

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