As we reported in the December issue of the Climate Change and Energy Briefing, from 1 to 12 December 2008, the world leaders in Climate Change gathered in Poznan, Poland, for a two-week meeting on tackling climate change.

The UN talks among environment ministers was intended to mark the midway point of negotiations on a new framework to replace the Kyoto treaty, whose main provisions expire in 2012. UN officials say a new treaty must be signed by the end of next year (intended to be in Copenhagen 2009) to give countries time to ratify it.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) issued a press release which stated that the meeting, attended by over 11,000 participants, had advanced international cooperation on a future climate change regime and continued progress on key issues. "We now have a much clearer sense of where we need to go in designing an outcome which will spell out the commitments of developed countries, the financial support required and the institutions that will deliver that support as part of the Copenhagen outcome," said UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Yvo de Boer.

TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

Progress was made regarding technology transfer, with the endorsement of the Global Environment Facility's 'Poznan Strategic Programme on Technology Transfer'. The aim of the programme is to increase the level of investment to help developing countries address their needs for environmentally sound technologies. There were discussions about how the Strategic Programme would be implemented, along with its relationship to existing and emerging activities and initiatives regarding technology transfer.

ADAPTION FUND

The 'Adaptation Fund' was also one of the key issues on the agenda at Poznan. The Adaptation Fund was established to help poorer nations adapt infrastructure, build flood defences and improve agriculture and is funded by a share of proceeds from the Kyoto Protocol's clean development mechanism (CDM), and voluntary contributions (for example pledges from developed countries).

The crucial issue discussed, was whether countries should be able to access the funds directly. There was a suggestion that direct access should be delayed, as without any formal procedures in place, the funds might be used for purposes not related to adaptation. Developing nations resisted such a suggestion, viewing it as increased bureaucracy that would delay projects. It was finally decided that the Adaptation Fund board would have the legal capacity to sign contracts, and could be releasing funds within months. However, it was recognised by the UNFCC that it may take a little time for the adaptation fund to become fully operational, due to funding shortfalls.

In addition, parties discussed in detail the issue of disaster management, risk assessment and insurance, which are essential to help developing countries cope with the effects of climate change

CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE

The parties at Pozan were unable to reach a conclusion as to whether carbon capture and storage (CCS) should be included under the CDM. If included, it would allow developed nations to gain carbon credits by paying for CCS projects in developing countries. Artur Runge-Metzger, head of the European Commission's climate and energy unit, told reporters in Poznan that "we think that we should do a pilot phase testing CCS in the CDM…have a good evaluation of that pilot phase and then make a decision over whether to have it in CDM or not." The CDM Executive Board will now assess the implications of including CCS projects and extending the eligibility criteria for afforestation and reforestation projects.

MOVING FORWARDS

In the current economic climate long-term cooperative action on climate change was a concern. However, Yvo de Boer remained positive, stating that "Governments have sent a strong political signal that despite the financial and economic crisis, significant funds can be mobilised for both mitigation and adaptation in developing countries with the help of a clever financial architecture and the institutions to deliver the financial support."

Parties agreed that the first draft of a concrete negotiating text for Copenhagen would be available at a UNFCCC gathering in Bonn during June 2009.