Developing nations seek cash in U.N. warming fight
POZNAN, Poland |
POZNAN, Poland (Reuters) - Developing nations urged rich nations at U.N. climate talks on Tuesday to raise aid despite the financial crisis to help the poor cope with global warming and safeguard tropical forests.
The U.N.'s top climate official said the December 1-12 meeting of 10,700 delegates had started well as the half-way point in negotiations to agree a new climate treaty by the end of 2009 in Copenhagen.
"I'm happy with where we are," Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said of the meeting which will test governments' willingness to work on climate change amid a global economic slowdown.
"I think it's really important, especially in the context of the financial crisis, to see how we can craft a Copenhagen agreement that makes it clear how financial resources will be generated."
Developing nations say they will need billions of dollars to help them combat warming and adapt to changes such as droughts, floods, more powerful cyclones and rising seas. Rich nations say they will help, but have made few pledges.
"It's imperative that the level of financing is up to the challenge, that's the basic starting point," Andre Odenbreit Carvalho, a Brazilian Foreign Ministry official, told delegates.
Several nations, including Democratic Republic of Congo, Suriname and Papua New Guinea, said rich nations had to help them safeguard tropical forests.
Trees soak up greenhouse gases as they grow, and burning forests to clear land for farming accounts for about 20 percent of warming from human activities. Governments want measures to slow deforestation as part of the 2009 deal.
"We must understand how to develop predictable, sufficient and sustainable financial flows" to protect forests, said Kevin Conrad, head of the Papua New Guinea delegation.
De Boer said that rich nations had to take a lead with deep cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases. "There was a strong sentiment expressed that governments need to speed up the work and need to really shift gear," he said.
Aid group Oxfam proposed rich countries pay about $50 billion annually from 2013 for rights to emit greenhouse gases, raising cash to help the least developed nations.
"This is a way to get it done," said Heather Coleman, senior climate policy advisor at Oxfam America, adding Norway and the Netherlands supported the concept.
Early on Tuesday, 11 Greenpeace activists scaled a 150-meter (490-foot) smokestack at the Patnow power plant in Poland to hang a banner reading "Quit coal, save the climate."
De Boer said that he was not targeting agreement on a complete deal next year, but rather on principles and targets. He denied that he was toning down ambitions.
"I don't think I'm managing expectations, I'm dealing with realities," he said.
The existing Kyoto Protocol, binding rich nations to curb emissions, was agreed in 1997 but only entered into force eight years later after ratification by sufficient countries.
That process would now have to be squeezed into just three years, from agreement on the outlines of a deal in Copenhagen next year, to ratification of a final treaty by up to 190 nations before the end of the present round of Kyoto in 2012.
Environmentalists gave a "Fossil of the Day" -- a dinosaur statuette -- to the European Union, accusing it of failing to lead in cutting emissions. The EU is split on designing measures to cut emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.
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