The latest round of United Nations-led negotiations aimed at reaching an ambitious global climate change deal next year began today in Poznan, Poland, drawing around 9,000 participants from governments, business and industry, environmental groups and research institutions.
The two-week meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the halfway mark on the road to a major summit in Copenhagen in 2009, at which countries hope to reach agreement on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions reductions, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.
Addressing the delegates in Poznan, Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, pointed towards the need to achieve progress on issues which are important in the run-up to 2012, including adaptation, finance, technology and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
“The conference needs to deliver on on-going issues, especially issues that are important to developing countries,” he said.
“And there is huge pressure on available time up to Copenhagen in 2009,” he added. “So next to on-going work, the conference also needs to lay a solid foundation for an ambitious climate change deal at Copenhagen.”
Alluding to the financial and economic crisis and the opportunities of green and sustainable economic growth, the UN’s top climate change official called on delegates to “increasingly focus on how the climate change regime could become self-financing and to link climate change policies to economic recovery.”
The issue of technology will be high on the agenda and the conference will deal in depth with the issue of risk management and risk reduction strategies, including insurance.
In the context of adapting to the inevitable effects of climate change, Parties are expected to put the finishing touches to the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund so that is it ready to receive concrete projects as of 2009.
The conference will conduct a review of the Kyoto Protocol and assess to what extent the Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism can be improved and its geographical reach extended.
Among the high-level officials attending the meeting is Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who is expected to lay out his ideas for some key issues under negotiation, including the shared vision necessary for long-term world collaboration on climate change.
In addition, experts from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be briefing participants on the potential role of nuclear energy for the mitigation of climate change. The Agency will also be presenting a new publication, entitled “Climate Change and Nuclear Power 2008,” which shows the climate change mitigation potential of nuclear power.
“Global interest in nuclear power is definitely on the rise,” says Holger Rogner, Head of the IAEA’s Planning and Economic Studies Section, who also heads the IAEA delegation at the meeting.
“This has also to do with the fact that nuclear power cannot be ignored when it comes to mitigating the effects of climate change. Many of the more than 50 member States that have expressed an interest in developing nuclear power also have in mind the fact that it generates few greenhouse gases.”