What hope for U.N. climate talks in Poland?

December 1, 2008

This week the U.N. leads a new round of global climate talks, in its 14th meeting since the world signed up to the convention on climate change in 1992.

It’s all about replacing the Kyoto Protocol with a more ambitious climate deal from 2013. Kyoto is widely regarded as toothless, but so could be its successor. (For a story, click here)

After all, fighting climate change isn’t easy – it involves limiting emissions of greenhouse gases which are a by-product of everyday essentials from energy to food, from burning fossil fuels and making fertiliser, for example.

But where does that leave Kyoto – a multilateral process which requires unanimity for every decision?

Oxford University’s energy expert Dieter Helm last week compared the entire emissions-cutting effort of Kyoto from its base year 1990 to 2012 to the increase in emissions from aviation alone over the same period.

At the moment Kyoto excludes the United States, which didn’t ratify the pact, and all developing countries, including China and India. And it gave too much emissions headroom in its target for Russia.

So the pact has had no binding effect on four of the world’s top five emitters.
Now 190 countries are meeting in Poznan, Poland, to try and lay the foundations of a new agreement next year on a sharper treaty. What chance have they got?

While Barack Obama could follow Europe with cuts in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, the problem is more about changing energy use in developing countries, which they’re worried will curb their economic growth, too.

If you believe U.N. climate scientists, global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2015 to avoid dangerous global warming.

There’s no chance of that on current trends, most scientists and economists say, given that emissions from top carbon bad boy China are rising by about 10 percent a year.
Is it time to shelve the Kyoto process and hand over to a centralised agency, to dish out tough climate medicine?

Or is the climate problem over-blown? Perhaps the world should wait for a new energy breakthrough, like nuclear fusion…


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Gerard, I think the climate problem is under-blown, way under-blown. People need to wake up to this fact, ASAP. Hopefully, Poznan and Copenhagen will help wake us up.

Posted by danny bloom | Report as abusive

Algae is a renewable fuel, does not affect the food channel and eats C02. Algae oil can be converted into fuels such as jet fuel, biodiesel, and biogasoline. The byproduct biomass that is used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, bio-plastics and organic fertilizer.

To learn more about algae commercialization, you may want to check out this website: www.nationalalgaeassociation.com

Posted by bcole | Report as abusive

gobal warming is a normal wave of the climate that has been going on for millions of years. At present there are many more signs that the climate is cooling. However the climate of mars is warming, artic ice caps are getting smaller. Maybe martin polution??? Wake up people this climate warming scare is strictly a scam. Al Gore and his group are nuts!!!!

Posted by david harvey | Report as abusive

Yes sure david… meet me at the Maldives underwater marine park in 25 yrs time… when I’ll be in my mid 40’s. That way we will be able to scuba dive our way around Male’s streets and witness weak corals growing along house front doors.

Global warming is a reality. There’s no denying it. Sometimes, some people are like those who called Galileo a fool for saying the Earth orbits the Sun. Now the Vatican has installed solar panels on its roofs en masse! Wake up Mr Harvey!

Posted by John Cauchi | Report as abusive

GW is fact done by humans. We cannot deny it! Solution: cut the OIL and use WATER!

Posted by rso | Report as abusive

Ladies and gentlemen, while taking away science and Al Gore’s myth as some may call it, I may personally feeling the impact of Climate Change or whatever you may want to call it. Here in southern Africa were I am it no longer raining as it used to, but drought year after drought year. Will those bygone days return where we used to have plenty of water, bumper harvests, enough food to eat from season to season????? . I wonder! – visionunlimited@yahoo.com

Posted by Admire | Report as abusive

Why is it that the loudest climate change characters are not scientists? Even most “climataologists” are not scientists. Their predictions seem to be at least as often wrong as right and may be less reliable than a soothsayer. Further none of this speculation is believable by me until some very basic questions are well answered. 1. How does anybody know that rising temperatures do not cause higher CO2 instead of the other way around. 2. What starting date is used to determine warming or cooling? 3. Why are the planets warming as much or more than we are? 4. The greatest biodiversity arose during the very warm Cambrian period and mankind arose in a warm Africa. Why are we fighting it? 5. Crop yield and usable farm land would become much greater in a warm earth (read Siberia and Canda. Why are we fighting it? We have pleaty of time to move away from the sea. This is displacement not earth catastophe. Why are we fighting it?

There may be warming and may not. I don’t know and neither does anybody else.


Posted by MIke Dunn | Report as abusive