GLOBAL: Pressure on to reach emissions agreement

Monday, August 25, 2008

Industrialised and developing countries will be under intense pressure to agree on greenhouse gas emission reduction targets during week-long negotiations over future greenhouse gas emission targets which kicked off in the Ghana capital Accra on 21 August.

"There is little time left to get a solid negotiation text on the table. Clearly the clock is ticking," Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) told the 1,600 delegation from 150 countries at the opening ceremony.

The Accra meeting is one of a series of working-group sessions between rich and poor countries meant to build consensus ahead of a final meeting in Copenhagen in December 2009. The parties have to seal agreements on emissions reduction, mitigation and adaptation.

The Copenhagen talks will be expected to create a successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol, but preparatory talks between rich and poor countries have so far mainly yielded acrimony.

"The clock is ticking, we need to be more pragmatic and move beyond rhetoric to make progress as we move towards Copenhagen," Ghanaian president John Kufuor, who chaired the opening ceremony, told the delegation.

The one-week talks in Accra will include discussion of policies and incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries, and joint discussion on the finance and technology needed to limit emissions and adapt to climate change.

"We can't allow ourselves to be too late. We need to move from the era of words to the era of action," said Connie Hedegaaro, Danish environment minister. "Two years after exhaustive talks in Nairobi, we are back in Accra for more negotiations. We need to move forward", she said.

The day after the Accra conference opened, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) launched a study in conjunction with the non-governmental organisation Care International warning climate change threatens to increase the number of deaths from disasters around the world.

The UN has repeatedly warned that the effects of climate change are already impacting on poor countries around the world, especially in Africa and Asia where the frequency and severity of natural disasters are increasing. The parties preparing for the Copenhagen summit will next meet in Poznan, Poland, in December.