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Climate talks to begin in Poland

AFP

Climate change

"Stop the climate change!"

Break the deadlock: Berlin's cathedral is illuminated with a light installation reading "Stop the climate change!" Organised by the Berliner Dom cathedral and the WWF, the installation was illuminated from November 18 to 20, ahead of next week's climate conference Poznan, Poland.

Credit: AFP

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PARIS: Marathon talks for a new pact to tackle climate change begin on Monday amid hopes stirred by Barack Obama's election but also fears that the global financial crisis will narrow room for manoeuvre.

The December 1 to 12 forum of the 192-member U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Poznan, Poland, comes midway through a two-year process launched in Bali for braking the juggernaut of global warming.

A mountain of proposals sits on the table for cutting greenhouse gases, transferring clean technology and beefing up aid for poor countries in climate change's firing line.

Workable blueprint

The conference's task is to whittle this sprawling heap into a workable blueprint for negotiations that will culminate in a new worldwide treaty in Copenhagen in December 2009.

"We need a step-change in the process," said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UNFCCC. "It's been very much general orientation and countries coming with ideas so far, and they really need to make the transition in Poznan to a full negotiating mode."

A European diplomat said: "Poznan is an intermediate conference between Bali and Copenhagen, but not without stakes. If we stumble this year, there's no chance (of success) next year."

The Copenhagen accord is intended to succeed the commitments of UNFCCC's troubled Kyoto Protocol after 2012. Kyoto was mauled when U.S. President George W. Bush abandoned it in 2001.

He argued the accord was too costly to the oil-dependent U.S. economy and unfair, as its binding emissions curbs apply only to rich countries, not developing ones. Efforts to frame the successor deal have been hugely complicated by the need to accommodate Bush's America.

A developing problem

But there is also grudging acknowledgement of Bush's point that China and India are already big carbon emitters and will be the problem of tomorrow. Yet these and other developing countries remain implacably opposed to targeted emissions caps.

Obama says he will set a goal of reducing U.S. emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80 per cent by 2050, using a cap-and-trade system and a 10-year program worth 150 billion dollars in renewable energy.

"This is a very exciting time. This is a moment we have been waiting for for some time, for eight years to be blunt," Senator John Kerry, who ran against Bush in 2004, said in a teleconference last week.

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