Gore Addresses Delegates as Climate Change Conference Closes

cop14_gore.jpg Given an unprecedented and still unfolding crisis in banking and credit markets, spreading recession and sharp falls in fossil fuel prices I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that reports say that the UN climate change negotiations in Poznan lacked a certain urgency and robustness. Add to that the transition of government leadership in the US, and there were a host of factors planting the seeds of doubt and uncertainty in delegates’ minds.
Former vice president and 2007 Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Al Gore said he felt a sense of pessimism in the air as he addressed delegates. Gore noted that while the evidence and science is clear, resistance on the part of business lobbies is throwing up a hurdle and slowing down progress even as the rate of climate change continues unabated, according to a report from the International Institute of Sustainable Development.
Some significant progress was made, nonetheless, according to statements and reports. Efforts to include and establish a framework and methodologies to finance projects that aim to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation while assuring indigenous and local community rights by including them in the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism carbon credit system are now set firmly front and center on the agenda, even as the negotiations in Poznan showed just how challenging and difficult reaching a consensus is likely to be. Yet more promising news did come out of the conference…

Finding a Successor to the Kyoto Protocol
More encouragingly, COP 14 delegates managed to cut through the red tape and free up some $60 million worth of funding for least developed and developing nations to undertake climate change mitigation and adaptation projects. The funds were yet to be allocated because the board of the U.N. Climate Change Adaptation Fund was never granted the authority to approve and sign the necessary contracts.
While progress was not as great as some expected and would have liked, progress was also made on the other key issues executive director Yvo de Boer specified in advance of the conference: negotiating agreements on adaptation, finance, technology and disaster management, according to the UNFCC.
Parties to the Conference did agree a work program for 2009 that will lead to intensified negotiations, de Boer pointed out during his final day press conference. And a ministerial round table made progress towards setting out a “shared vision on long-term cooperative action on climate change,” giving political direction as to how the UNFCCC can move forward towards reaching agreement in Copenhagen, he said.
Showing support and providing some much needed political leadership on a world stage, the European Parliament this past week passed EU renewable energy legislation that re-affirms its commitment to meeting 20% of its energy needs from renewable sources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20% by 2020.
The next major stepping stone on the path to establishing a climate change action plan that stands a chance of succeeding the Kyoto Protocol and being approved at the 15th UNFCCC Conference of Parties in Copenhagen next December will take place March 29 to April 8 in Bonn, Germany.
Gore urged delegates not to shy away from the task. “We cannot negotiate with the facts, we cannot negotiate with the truth about our situation, we cannot negotiate with the consequences of unrestrained dumping of 70 million tons of global warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet every 24 hours,” he said.

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email: huginn.muggin@gmail.com

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