UN Climate Negotiations Kick Off in Poznan

Conference Focuses on Climate Change 1 December 2008: The UN Climate Change Conference opened in Poznan, Poland, on 1 December, bringing together around 11,000 participants from government, business and industry, environmental groups and research institutions.

The meeting includes the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the fourth

Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of Parties to the

Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 4). In support of these two main bodies, four

subsidiary bodies will convene: the fourth session of the Ad Hoc

Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention

(AWGLCA 4); the resumed sixth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on

Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol

(AWG-KP 6); and the 29th sessions of the Subsidiary Body for

Implementation (SBI 29) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and

Technological Advice (SBSTA 29). A joint COP and COP/MOP high-level

segment with government ministers and other senior officials will also

take place from 11-12 December.

Delegates will deliberate on a wide range of topics and agenda items.

However, the primary focus will be on the post-2012 period, when the

Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period expires. The negotiations in

Poznań are the halfway mark towards the December 2009 deadline for

agreeing on a framework for enhanced long-term global action against

climate change.

In an opening speech, Yvo de Boer, UNFCCC Executive Secretary,

underscored the need to achieve progress and lay a “solid foundation”

for an ambitious post-2012 climate regime. Noting the time pressure, he

urged delegates to focus on issues where an agreement could be reached

rather than on what divided them. He highlighted the particular

vulnerability of the poorest countries and emphasized the costs of

delaying action. De Boer then outlined recent achievements on ongoing

work and listed areas where progress had to be made in Poznan,

including: revising the CDM; fully operationalizing the Adaptation

Fund; and advancing work on methodological issues, policies and

incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation in developing

countries (REDD). He also drew attention to some problematic issues,

including: addressing delays regarding issues relating to national

communications from non-Annex I Parties; refining further the assembly

paper prepared by the AWGLCA Chair; and turning the discussion to

ranges of emission reductions for industrialized countries within the

AWGKP. Referring to the financial crisis, he called on delegates to

“increasingly focus on how the climate change regime could become

self-financing and to link climate change policies to economic


Also addressing delegates, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

(IPCC) Chairman Rajendra Pachauri underlined that the Fourth Assessment

Report of the IPCC contains a wealth of information that still has

largely not received adequate attention. He provided some examples of

the impacts of climate change that would accrue as a result of

inaction, stressing the particular vulnerability of the poor. He

highlighted the 70% increase in greenhouse gas emissions between 1970

and 2004, despite the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992. Pachauri

underscored that the cost of limiting the increase in global mean

temperature to about 2°C would be very modest and that the many

co-benefits from such action might outweigh this cost, but noted the

need to consider the impacts of climate change if such a stabilization

scenario is adopted. He urged delegates to “listen to and reflect on

the voice of science,” and “act with determination and a sense of

urgency.” [IISD RS coverage] [UN Press Release] [UNFCCC Executive Secretary's Statement] [UNFCCC Press Release] [IPCC Chairman's Statement]