Delegates from some 190 countries continued to focus on a shared vision on fighting climate change and adaptation to its adverse effects on Friday, but differences remained largely unresolved between developed and developing nations.
This meeting at the Polish town of Poznan is the fourth and largest of a series that was finalized a year ago at the United Nations Climate Change Conference that took place at Nusa Dua, in Bali, Indonesia. In that conference, participants had agreed on the Bali Roadmap as a two-year process to work towards a treaty acceptable to all. (See: Bali Roadmap - Giving direction to an endangered world)
''We now have a roadmap, we have an agenda and we have a deadline. But we also have a huge task ahead of us and time to reach agreement is extremely short, so we need to move quickly,'' said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Countries were still wrangling over a variety of issues related to the global fight against climate change, trying to seek ways to seal a deal in Copenhagen, Denmark, next December to succeed the first period of the Kyoto Protocol, which is to expire in 2012.
The developed countries are seeking to set up a shared vision on long-term goal for emission cuts, saying that such a goal will set the direction for future actions. Some industrialized countries believe that a 50 per cent cut of emissions against the 1990 level by 2050 is necessary for the goal of preventing rising temperatures.
The developing nations, however, rejected such a global goal at this stage, arguing that such a vision is not feasible since there are no concrete plans for providing finance and technology required by the developing countries.
Brazil said a shared vision should be guided by the provisions and principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, such as the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
India said US president-elect Barack Obama's target of cutting US emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020 is inadequate to avoid global warming. US emissions are still running about 14 per cent above 1990 levels. While acknowledging Obama's target as a progress, Indian Foreign Ministry official Dinesh Patnaik said the US target "is not ambitious enough."
Calling on delegates to advance funding for climate change projects, UN climate chief de Boer told a press conference on Thursday that "the developing countries are especially vulnerable and will be the hardest hit" as they have limited capacity to cope with climate change and need financial and other assistance to implement adaptation actions.
He said that talk of pushing a global climate change deal past the December 2009 deadline agreed upon at UN talks in Bali last year was not on the table. "I find that kind of thinking is neither helpful nor necessary.''
"There was a broad international commitment in Bali - including from the Bush administration - that we are working towards an outcome in Copenhagen," de Boer said, referring to the Danish capital that will host the critical round of UN negotiations. "I have no indication whatsoever that president-elect Obama wants to go back on what President Bush agreed to in Bali."
He also took a swipe at a US-based think tank cited in a question as raising doubts about how realistic the UN goal was. The Pew Center on Global Climate Change "are about the only ones I've heard saying that a deal for Copenhagen is not viable," he said. A draft study by an analyst on the Center's website states that "a detailed post-2012 agreement is unlikely when governments meet in late 2009 in Copenhagen".