December 12, 2008 12:50 ET

WWF-Feeble EU and Group of Laggard Countries Stymie UN Climate Talks

POZNAN, POLAND--(Marketwire - Dec. 12, 2008) - WWF says the disappointing lack of progress at UN climate talks in Poznan is a major missed opportunity towards reaching a new global climate treaty in Copenhagen in 2009. The stalemate was largely the result of a collapse in European Union leadership and obstructionism by other industrialized countries taking the negotiations hostage.

"This was a moment in time when real leaders would have stepped up and taken the positions that would combat the economic and climate crisis at the same time," said Kim Carstensen, Leader of the WWF Global Climate Initiative. "Instead, industrialized countries preached sermons about the importance of climate protection in the Poznan plenary while lacking or attacking policies to make it happen at home - a serious sign of climate hypocrisy."

With the United States largely sidelined amid the transitioning presidential administration, the hope for EU leadership was dashed as Heads of States meeting in Brussels watered down the block's climate package instead of moving clean energy development center stage for invigorating the economy. In contrast, developing countries arrived in Poznan with a constructive spirit and proposals to match, highlighted by China's impressive leadership and Mexico's pledge to cut 50 per cent of emissions by 2050.

"A passive EU, in effect, joined the United States as the second lame duck in the Poznan pond, while Canada, Japan, Russia, Australia and Saudi Arabia openly undermined progress", Carstensen said. "These countries need to get serious about greening their economies and they need to provide know-how, funding and technology to developing countries. Otherwise, any prospects for a new global climate treaty will remain dim."

WWF said many opportunities were wasted in Poznan, among them the inclusion of crucial biodiversity issues and the rights of indigenous peoples in the final text on the issue of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation. It is likely that one positive decision will be to put the Board of the Adaptation Fund into operation, with the hope that money can finally begin to flow to support the poorest countries in their efforts to stem dangerous climate impacts.

Governments managed to at least make procedural decisions on a work plan that will advance the UNFCCC from just talking into negotiating. According to that plan, industrialized countries are expected to announce emission reduction targets for 2020 in early 2009. WWF urged rich nations to finally set these targets and to aim at cuts of at least 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels. Together with financial and technological support for developing countries, such targets will be the signal of solidarity that people all over the world want to see.

"Despite the lack of major steps forward in Poznan, the door to a global climate treaty in Copenhagen in 2009 remains open," said Carstensen. "But with an entire year lost to blocking strategies and other maneuvers, time is running out quickly. Leaders must now work harder and faster to get the job done. It's not a problem of the UNFCCC process, but one of political will among industrialized countries."

WWF- World Wide Fund For Nature (also known as World Wildlife Fund)

This press release and associated material can be found on www.panda.org/media.

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