Cracking the Climate Nut: Poznan Talks –Day 2

car floodedby Dan Bloom

POZNAN,POLAND (RushPRNews)12/03/08 — The two week meeting of 190 nations coming together to discuss the fate of the Earth, and the future survival of the human species, got underway on Monday and continues through December 12. According to two American bloggers, one on the ground in Poznan, attending the meeting as an observer/activist, and the other a professor monitoring the talks from afar, things are heating up.

“Formal discussions began in earnest [on the second day of the current climate talks] in Poznan,” RushPRnews learned from reading the Poznan blog of Professor Hugh Bartling at the DePaul University in Chicago.

“There are numerous concurrent sessions taking place, but the one that is of special interest is the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action. This is the group that put together an 84-page document over the past year that is serving as the basis of a ‘shared vision’ for the eventual post-Kyoto treaty. Basically that document is a compilation of ideas presented by individual countries and international organizations — many of which are contradictory or, perhaps, incompatible. The negotiations in Poznan are meant to begin the path towards resolving these contradictions.”

Bartling added: “Today there were at least three presentations at the AWG-LCA session worth noting: Japan, the European Union, and China.

Each gave its vision for shared emission targets.”

“In other developments,” Bartling said, “the Climate Action Network held a press conference pushing delegates for action and chiding major emitters, like the US, for a lack of urgency. Also of interest, in a nod to Obama’s nominee for Secretary of State [Hillary Clinton], the French negotiator remarked on two different occasions that former U.S. President Bill Clinton said in the 1990s that he ‘loves Kyoto,’suggesting that the new Obama/Clinton team might revive the former U.S. President’s enthusiasm.”

Keith Johnson, writing in a blog on the Wall Street Journal wesbite, uses a bit of humor to paint a picture of what is happening this week in Poland, noting: “A year ago, gaggles of climate negotiators at least could enjoy the weather in Bali. This December, the same crowd is huddled in the Polish winter as international climate negotiations come to Poznan, Poland. Much like Bali, though, Poznan resembles a Mexican standoff more than anything else.”

The Mexican standoff Johnson refers to? “Rich countries aren’t ready to commit to specific targets for greenhouse-gas reductions by 2020.

The U.S. is in limbo, caught between an outgoing administration lukewarm about tackling climate change and a gung-ho incoming administration that can’t do anything about it until next year at the earliest. Developing countries are sticking to their guns and demanding richer countries take the earliest and biggest steps to curb emissions.”

Johnson’s conclusion? “Analysts are scrambling to dampen already low expectations, warning that the two-week long Polish summit won’t likely resolve any of the thorny issues standing in the way of drafting a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.”

Meanwhile, climate activists and protest groups have been making their presence felt at the climate talks, too, trying to create eye-catching photo opps for the international wire services to beam back to readers on all seven continents.

In fact, several green groups have been upping the pressure on delegates and world leaders with wacky stunts aimed at prodding them to get moving on tackling the very divisive issue of global warming.

For example, the World Wildlife Fundwelcomed participants at the 12-day talksby handing out walnuts and urging them to “crack the climate nut” and overcome the negotiations deadlock.

In another protest, Greenpeace unveiled a sculpture depicting the Earth on the brink of destruction from a “tidal wave” of carbon dioxide made of wood and coal.

Joshua Kahn Russell, a young twentysomething Brandeis graduate who on the ground in Poznan this week, told RushPRnews that “the activist and NGO community is buzzing with ideas about how to make the most of these sessions to come out with a strong path toward the increasingly looming deadlines next year in Copenhagen. One of our concerns is that the delegates are trying to lower expectations for this process, telling the press (and each other) that it’s okay not to expect too much from the Poland talks. But across the world, we all know that we can’t wait anymore.”

Russell quoted a Danish climate activist who said: “The clock is ticking and time has run out. It is now we have to face the consequences of our over-consumption in the West.”

Yes, the clock is ticking. Tick, tick, tock.