Satisfaction, anger at outcome of Poznan talks on global warming

POZNAN, Poland, Dec 13, 2008 (AFP) - For some, a marathon UN conference that ended here on Friday cleared essential ground for building a new treaty on global warming, while others saw it as a disappointment or an outright flop.

The talks under the UN's 192-nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) agreed a work program for negotiations leading to a treaty in Copenhagen in December 2009 to roll back the threat of global warming.

The meeting, which ended Friday after a two-day forum at ministerial level, had been a technical and sometimes brutally complex affair but yielded pragmatic results, said some.

"This was intended as a blue-collar conference that had to deliver practical results on the road to Copenhagen," said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer.

"What this conference very clearly showed is that from now on it's for real in this process. The countries are getting down to serious negotiations and for an agreement."

The outcome "was what we were hoping for, and when I say we I think more than just the US," James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, told AFP.

"But it is going to require some very sustained work and also a higher level of political will on everybody's part. [It] lays bare the challenge that lies ahead the challenge of getting to an agreement within a year."

South Africa Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said that some of the issues up for discussion had "led to tension between developed and developing countries."

"But even so I think we will be ready for negotiations and tension and confrontation are part of negotiations. I will be ready and am looking forward to next year," he told AFP.

Su Wei, the Chinese chief climate negotiator, said he was "disappointed by the slow progress -- even no progress" at Poznan, with "some parties not going to move anywhere" on certain issues.

"I think the developed countries are blocking on every item. I don't think that they are objectively prepared to make any progress," Su told AFP.

Green groups were highly disappointed, with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) saying Poznan was a "major missed opportunity" for hammering out concessions on how to slash greenhouse-gas emissions.

"This was a moment in time when real leaders would have stepped up and taken the positions that would combat the economic and climate crisis at the same time," WWF bemoaned.

It said the "only positive decision" was on progress to launch a fund to provide cash to help poor countries cope with climate change -- the so-called Adaptation Fund.

Developing nations battled for this Fund to tap wider sources of revenue from the burgeoning carbon market under the Kyoto Protocol, but this was rejected by wealthy countries -- a confrontation that reflected "bitterness," de Boer admitted.

"Developing countries rightly expect the world's wealthiest nations to take the lead. Instead, industrialized countries are continuing to dodge their financial and technology transfer obligations to developing nations," Friends of the Earth International said.

"The meeting accomplished little more than rehashing the same language discussed in Bali," Greenpeace said. "Saying the same thing you said a year ago is not progress."

"The best way forward at this point is to draw a line under the Poznan meeting, and look forward to what we can -- and must -- accomplish in less than a year," Greenpeace said.

British charity Oxfam said Poznan "exposed a shameful lack of progress."
"An ambitious deal in Copenhagen is still possible, and is needed more than ever, but it will need far more rapid progress than over the past year," it said.

Source: AFP

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