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Poland under fire for UN climate “solidarity” plan

  Host Poland stuck to a proposal to agree a “Solidarity Partnership” at the end of UN climate talks on Friday despite criticism by many nations that progress was too scant to merit a sweeping title.


The Dec 1-12 meeting, including 145 environment ministers on Friday, has been overshadowed by fears of economic recession and few nations have been willing to unveil ambitious new plans to combat global warming. “The ‘Poznan Solidarity Partnership’ is a proposal for the final declaration of the conference, which would sum up all the achievements of this meeting,” Poland’s Deputy Environment Minister Janusz Zaleski told Reuters. “But it’s only a proposal for now and it had provoked various opinions at the ministerial meeting,” he said. “Solidarity” resonates as the name of the Polish trade union that helped end the communist rule in 1989.

Many delegates said the 189-nation talks, reviewing progress toward a UN climate treaty due to be agreed at the end of 2009, had achieved too little on issues such as safeguarding forests or helping the poor to justify the title. One Chinese delegate denounced the proposal in a meeting of ministers with Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki on Thursday night as “an empty bag of garbage,” delegates said. The United States and developing nations also criticized the plan. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that the economic slowdown was no excuse for “backsliding” on commitments to fight warming and called for massive investments in new green jobs.

A European Union summit in Brussels has also distracted attention. EU leaders were set to back a €200-billion($264 billion) economic stimulus pact and a climate change plan amended to ease its impact on industry and poorer EU states, according to a draft text.


Still, most UN climate meetings in recent years have ended with declaration linked to the host city. Last year ministers agreed a “Bali Roadmap” that laid out a two-year plan to work out a new climate deal in Copenhagen by the end of 2009. “There is nothing new, there is nothing extra that can be called a deal,” Quamrul Islam Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi delegate who leads negotiations for the least developed countries, said of the proposed “Solidarity Partnership.” “If you want something concrete, something positive to share with the world, it is not here,” he said.

Among remaining disputes, ministers in Poznan on Friday would try to break deadlock on the launch of a fund meant to help poor nations adapt to the impacts of climate change such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, disease and rising seas. The Adaptation Fund could reach $300 million a year by 2012 to help countries build coastal defenses or develop drought-resistant crops. Developing nations want easier access to the funds than donor nations are willing to give.

The fund is tiny but could be a model for future climate funds, so delegates say the mechanisms for payouts must be right. The United Nations projects that tens of billions of dollars a year will be needed by 2030 to help adaptation. The UN Climate Change Secretariat said the Polish talks had achieved its main goals of agreeing a plan of work toward Copenhagen and helped narrow down options in a 100-page document summing up thousands of pages of ideas. The hard decisions -- led by how far each nation will curb emissions of greenhouse gases -- were left as planned for 2009. (Reuters)