Top officials converge in Poland for UN climate change talks

10 December 2008 – Ministers and other top officials from nearly 200 nations are gathering in Poznan, Poland, for United Nations-led negotiations aimed at reaching an ambitious global climate change deal next year.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will address the high-level segment tomorrow and will appeal to the gathered leaders to not let the food, financial and other current crises dissuade them from taking urgent action on climate change.

The ministerial meeting caps off the two-week Poznan conference, which marks the half-way point in efforts to reach agreement on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding regime for reducing greenhouse gas emissions whose first commitment period ends in 2012.

The ministerial segment caps off the two-week Poznan conference, which marks the half-way point in efforts to reach agreement on a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, the legally binding regime for reducing greenhouse gas emissions whose first commitment period ends in 2012.

Last December, countries at the landmark UN climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, agreed to take action to adapt to the negative consequences of climate change, such as droughts and floods; devise ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; find ways to deploy climate-friendly technology; and finance adaptation and mitigation measures.

The agreement to be reached by nations must include emissions reductions targets by wealthier countries and must also address funding for developing nations, said Yvo De Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“We must have a politically ratifiable outcome that can enter into force in 2013,” he added.

So far in Poznan, discussions have focused on how to narrow differences between nations ahead of the December 2009 conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, where negotiations are expected to conclude. A negotiating text for an agreement is expected to be placed under consideration at a UNFCCC gathering next June.

In a related development, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said today that weather-related natural disasters causing even more damage than earthquakes, further endangering vulnerable communities and straining global insurance companies.

Preliminary data shows that while 2008’s costliest event was the devastating earthquake that struck China in May. But the largest number of major disasters were weather-related, with the deadliest among them, Cyclone Nargis which hit Myanmar earlier this year, claiming 84,500 lives and leading to uninsured economic losses of $4 billion.

The re-insurance and insurance industry has taken a big hit from weather-related disasters, but Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, said that it “also has an important role in the profitability and viability of many of the solutions,” ranging from innovative insurance policies to help home-owners and businesses in at-risk areas to solutions to cover wind farm operators against challenging weather conditions.


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