The United Nations' high-level meeting on climate change kicked off Thursday in central Poland, aiming to identify critical elements for a global long-term goal in fighting climate change.
Participants at the high-level meeting include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, four heads of state and government, and 145 environment ministers and senior government representatives.
In his address, UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for action on fighting climate change and leadership from the European Union and the United States.
"We look for leadership from the European Union...We look for leadership from the United States," he said.
It is encouraging to hear about the incoming Barack Obama administration's plan to put alternative energy, environmentalism and climate change at the very center of the United States' definition of national security, economic recovery and prosperity, Ban added.
Industrialized countries must set ambitious long-term goals coupled with mid-term emission reduction targets, while developing countries need to limit the growth of their emissions, he said.
The UN chief also hailed some developing countries' efforts to address climate change, saying that China is dedicating one-fourth of its sizable economic stimulus plan to scale up renewable fuels, environmental protection and energy conservation.
The Poznan climate talks, which started on Dec. 1, has drawn more than 10,000 participants and constitutes a half-way mark in negotiations on a possible deal in Copenhagen at the end of 2009, expected to take effect in 2013, the year after the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol expires.
Referring to the Poznan talks, Ban said the delegates face three challenges -- creating a work plan for next year's negotiations, the key elements of a long-term vision in fighting climate change and a re-commitment to the urgency of addressing the human threat.
The ongoing financial recession and climate change are two crises that present the world a great opportunity to address both challenges simultaneously, he added.
"Managing the global financial crisis requires massive global stimulus, a big part of that spending should be an investment - an investment in a green future," Ban said.
"The economic crisis is serious. Yet when it comes to climate change, the stakes are far higher...the climate crisis affects our potential prosperity and our people's lives, both now and far into the future."
The high-level segment of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathering will focus on a shared vision for a long-term goal in fighting climate change.
A shared vision on cooperative action on climate change, which will focus on emission cut targets for industrialized countries, has been the source of dispute.
Countries are arguing over whether a long-term goal of cutting emissions by 2050 or a mid-term goal of emission curbs by 2020 by developed countries should come first.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski also addressed the opening session of the high-level meeting by calling for urgent action on climate change.
UN climate chief Yvo de Boer told the assembled ministers that the meeting was an opportunity to move on along the course of fighting climate change. He also stressed the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities in fighting such change.
"It's time to give meaning to the term leadership. It's time for you to tell the world how you will send the world a clear signal from Poznan that you are pushing towards Copenhagen in close cooperation," said de Boer.
The conclusion of the two-day high-level meeting Friday will mark the end of the two-week long Poznan climate talks aimed at sealing a deal for the Copenhagen meeting.
However, the talks have been overshadowed by the ongoing financial crisis and the pending U.S. position on climate change at a time of power transition.
The possibility of a substantial Copenhagen deal seems faint as U.S. President-elect Obama may not be able to set formal emissions targets within a year, some experts say.