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U.N. Climate Talks Kick Off in Poznan

un_climate_talks.jpgRepresentatives from around the world have  gathered in Poznan, Poland for a two-week meeting on tackling climate change. The 192-member U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change is the halfway mark in a two-year process launched by the international community in Bali last year.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, opening the meeting, pointed to the urgent need for progress at Poznan. “Scientists share the view that warming in excess of two degrees Celsius will result in irreversible changes to nearly all ecosystems and the human communities. We shoulder the responsibility to prevent changes that could lastingly disturb the symbiosis between humankind and nature,” he said.

One of the key questions will be what kind of mechanisms need to be put in place to deliver on finance, technology and capacity building to help developing countries curb emissions, spur green growth and to cope with the inevitable impacts of climate change. During 2008, Parties submitted proposals and ideas for stronger climate change action. The more than 700 pages of proposals have been distilled into a single document of 82 pages, which governments can now refine further in light of what they want to negotiate in 2009.

It is hoped that by the end of the talks on December 12, the proposal will have been condensed into a workable blueprint for negotiations to result in a deal when the group meets in Denmark next year.

“The fact that there is a text on the table offers governments the first real opportunity of moving beyond the phase of exchanging ideas into one where they will be expressing their position on specific proposals,” said Luiz Figueiredo Machado, Chair of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention.

However, AFP reported (via France24) that reaching an agreement may be difficult as rich countries are pushing developing nations such as China and India, who are becoming major polluters, for concessions. Meanwhile, developing countries want rich nations to help pay for them to grow their economies in a sustainable way.

Yu Qingtai, China’s special representative for climate change talks, recently told Reuters that he is not optimistic about negotiations to seek a global treaty on climate change. Yu says the climate pact could fail because rich countries are failing to deliver on promises of technological and financial assistance to poorer countries.

But there is hope for global climate negotiations as the U.S., one of the world’s biggest polluter per capita, will have a new leader who has issued a major policy statement on global warming.

It’s hoped that a GHG emission reduction range will also be confirmed at Poznan. Last year, the group agreed to considered a GHG emission reduction range of minus 25 to minus 40 percent over 1990 levels.

You can see the closing press briefing from the Bali meeting here.

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