About 9,000 delegates from 187 countries are gathering here for the UN’s annual climate change summit, at a time when industrialised countries are reluctant to commit significant funds to combat climate change due to the global financial meltdown. But scientists warn the catastrophe is already here.The Dec 1-12 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit here - now second only to the UN General Assembly in size and profile - comes halfway on the two-year Bali roadmap in which a new international agreement to combat climate change is to be worked out by December 2009.
But the roadmap now looks like a maze. Hardly any of the commitments made by any government under previous international agreements has been kept.
The UNFCCC has calculated that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from industrialised countries have continued to rise between 1990 and 2006 in violation of their commitment under the convention and the Kyoto Protocol.
Climate change is being caused by a rise in GHG concentration - mainly carbon dioxide - in the atmosphere. It is already affecting farm output and water supplies, submerging coastal areas as the sea rises, and leading to more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms.
Scientists are now warning that the effect is both worse and faster than estimated by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year. The IPCC had warned of major and unexpected changes if the global average temperature rose more than two degrees Celsius. If current trends continue, it is set to rise more than four degrees.
Developing countries are already the worst hit, with India among those bearing the brunt. At the same time, large developing countries such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa are under immense pressure from industrialised countries to commit to mandatory GHG emission caps, though industrialised countries are responsible for over 90 percent of the extra GHG in the atmosphere.
India and China both have ambitious national plans to combat climate change and move towards a greener energy path, but both have said they need money and cheap transfer of technology from industrialised countries to do so.
All developing countries have asked for money to adapt to climate change consequences. But the little that was committed by industrialised countries at the Bali summit and thereafter is now in danger of drying up as the global financial system implodes.
Members of the Indian government delegation here have told IANS there is no point in even talking about a Bali roadmap or a post-2012 global pact, when the current phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires. They want the industrialised countries to honour their current commitments before talking about the future.
Instead, governments in many industrialised countries are trying their best to renege on their historical responsibilities, and are ready to use the Poznan summit for another round of Sindia (as the China-India combine is being called here) bashing on the plea that these two countries threaten to become the world’s largest GHG emitters in the next decade.
The closed negotiating rooms at the Poznan summit promise stormy meetings and much horse-trading while NGOs from around the world keep petitioning outside the doors in repeated efforts to nudge governments to come to at least some agreements that may save the world.