UN Climate Talks: Too little but not too late

“The UN negotiations towards emissions reductions beyond 2012 have proceeded at a glacial pace.”
Phil Bloomer
Director of Campaigns and Policy, Oxfam
Publicado : 11 Diciembre 2008

Possible Progress in Poznan Hinges on Adaptation Finance

Poznan, Poland – As government Ministers arrive today at climate change talks in Poznan, Oxfam called on them to kick start stalled negotiations to secure a deal by Copenhagen in 2009.

“The UN negotiations towards emissions reductions beyond 2012 have proceeded at a glacial pace,” said Phil Bloomer, senior executive with Oxfam. “Poznan was meant to be a staging post on the way to an ambitious deal that would be achieved in Copenhagen, but instead, it is like a polluting truck stalled in the truck stop.”

Far from the rapid progress that was needed after last year’s conference in Bali, little has been achieved. On the big issues – a vision for the future, targets, financing, clean technology – the negotiating text has not progressed.

“This is collective complacency on a major scale,” said Bloomer. “But it is not too late for Ministers to make crucial decisions that would move the negotiations forward.”

Ministers have been asked by the Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer to address six questions at a round table on Thursday. The right answers  to those questions – answers based on science and reflecting equity – would move the negotiations forward. It is not too late to salvage an outcome from Poznan. Oxfam’s suggested answers are included here.

Oxfam called for urgent action especially on the issue of adaptation – helping developing countries protect themselves from climate impacts and adapt to them. The elements are almost agreed to – starting up the Adaptation Fund, finalizing a work program, and, the crucial element, ensuring enough funding to meet the urgent needs. Negotiators are stuck on this last issue, but without it, there is little that can be done to save lives and prevent suffering.

“Ministers could leave Poznan with an agreement on adaptation, an issue that is crucial to millions of people suffering from climate change impacts,” said Bloomer. ”But sensible proposals on funding adaptation have so far been rejected by negotiators from the EU and most other rich countries. This is unacceptable. Instead of ducking the finance issue, Ministers arriving in Poznan must reach a decision to fund adaptation in developing countries to take effect as soon as the ink is dry in Copenhagen.”

Información complementaria

Oxfam's suggested answers for the six questions posed to ministers in Poznan:

Government ministers arriving in Poznan have been asked to discuss six questions in a round table. Here is a “cheat sheet” for the ministers with the (simplified) questions and Oxfam’s suggested answers.

1. What cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are needed?

We need to listen to the scientific evidence and keep global temperature from rising to avoid climate chaos. Rich countries must agree to cut emissions by at least 25-40% by 2020 in order to stay below 2°C warming. There would be catastrophic impacts above that, with almost two billion people likely to be affected by water shortages, global agriculture undermined, and hunger likely to kill up to three million more people every year.

2. What can developing countries do to contribute?

Developing countries can do a lot, and in fact many of them already are. But rich countries have caused this problem and they must deliver on their promises of funding and clean technology to help developing countries do more. Under any objective framework of fairness, the lion’s share of emissions reductions and finance and technology obligations fall on industrialised countries for at least the next three decades.

3.    How can vulnerable countries prepare for climate change and adapt to it?

People have always adapted to natural variability in the climate, but human induced climate change will create unprecedented climate stress for many of the world’s most vulnerable communities. Early action must be taken to reduce their vulnerabilities and build their resilience to these new and heightened risks. We know a lot about how to prepare for natural disasters and build community resilience. It is time to deliver. Poznan must agree to start up the new Adaptation Fund and now deliver new money, especially for the Least Developed Countries. Now, not later.

4. How can we make clean low-carbon technologies available to developing countries?

Developing countries have already made interesting proposals to address this, but rich nations have not responded. Companies need to be involved, but governments must put in place strong regulation to ensure that there are real benefits in terms of clean and sustainable development.

5. How can we generate the funding needed to make this happen?

Rich nations need to make commitments in Poznan to kick start this process. They agree here to start immediately after Copenhagen 2009 with at least a 2% sharing of proceeds from emissions trading to support the Adaptation Fund. Then funding needs to scale up from there.

6. What kinds of funding mechanisms do we need?

The new Adaptation Fund has a good balance in its governance system and rich countries should fund it by instituting a polluter pays regime that delivers dependable flows of financing. This precedent should inform development of a comprehensive arrangement for a financial mechanism under the Convention. We can develop new sources of funding by using already existing mechanisms, such as auctioning emissions that rich countries are allowed or  levying airline and shipping fuels. World leaders were able to find trillions of dollars for the financial crisis; the amounts being asked for to combat climate change are a fraction of that. If we don’t act on climate change, we will soon not need a financial system.