Poznan: Fiddling while Rome burns

As Canadian delegates to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Poznan, Poland struggle to prevent any progress toward a international agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, Canadian scientist David Barber announces that climate change is coming faster and more furiously than even the most pessimistic modellers could have imagined.

Barber, speaking at the International Arctic Change 2008 conference this week in Quebec City, said sea ice in the Canadian Arctic, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said could melt as early as 2100, is now in danger of melting in 2015, nearly a century ahead of schedule.

Poznan: Green Leader Despairs at Conference Potential

“It’s like attending a family reunion on the Titanic.”

Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May is a difficult person to interview at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Poznan, Poland. She seems to know nearly everyone, and when she isn’t waving and smiling at passersby, she is fending off phone calls or emails buzzing on her blackberry.

But regardless of the old-home week atmosphere, she is bleakly disappointed about what’s going on in this sprawling conference centre. Having attended the organizational meeting for the UNFCCC in 1990 and the inaugural meeting in Rio in 1992, and being a veteran of many “COP” (Conference of the Parties) meetings for the inrternational biodiversity treaty, she has seen her share of such events.

“But this has a dreadful pall to it.”

Poznan: UN Accredits DeSmog Reporter - First Blog in History

After two days of deliberations, the United Nations officials at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Poznan, Poland, agreed to give media accreditation to the DeSmogBlog, the first time in history that the UN has accredited a blog, according to UNFCCC Public Information and Media Assistant Carrie Assheuer.

“It was quite the ordeal,” said DeSmogBlog Editor Richard Littlemore. “The UN system is set up to accommodate mainstream media and it’s not an institution that’s designed to be flexible or innovative.”

But after Littlemore showered the UNFCCC press office with examples of DSB citations in everything from the Globe and Mail to the New York Times, Assheuer, a Canadian who was already familiar with the DeSmogBlog, finally acknowledged the blog’s function as an online media outlet within the UN’s now-more-flexible definition.

Poznan: Canadian Negotiating Position "Profoundly Hypocritical"

Canada’s lead negotiator at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Michael Martin, has declared - unequivocally - that Canada is not blocking progress at the talks this week. But in a morning briefing to the Canadian arm of the International Climate Action Network today Martin made it just as clear that Canada has no inrtention of being part of that progress.

It would appear from his recently reported comments that Martin has been suffering a fair amount of criticism for Canada’s stance at the climate conference in Poznan. Specifically, Canada was assumed to be blocking agreement on a reasonable greenhouse (GHG) gas reduction target for so-called “Annex 1” countries, the wealthiest signatories to the Kyoto Protocol.

On the contrary, Martin said this morning. Canada is fully supportive of the reduction currently being discussed. However, “it’s not Canada’s view that we can do a number within that range.”

Welcome to diplomatic doublespeak 101.

Poznan: Surrealism Reigns at Climate Conference

“Welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place. Such a lovely place.”

That Eagles’ classic was playing on the taxicab radio when I arrived in Poznan, Poland last night for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The cabbie, who doesn’t speak a word of English, couldn’t be blamed for the set-up, but it was a perfect theme song.

This is a climate change conference at which nothing is expected to change. As reported earlier, no one anticipates anything positive from the Americans or (naturally) the Canadians, but even the European powers that once showed admirable leadership on this issue are backing away from action.

Poznan, Sleep Deprivation and Promises of Disappointment

Dense fog hangs inside and outside the Frankfurt airport, a hazy waypoint on the road to Poznan.

As the most dedicated climate policy watchers all know, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is currently in its 14th session in Poznan, Poland. For the last week, senior climate policy negotiators from around the world have been feeling one another out, testing support for ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets to replace the now irrelevant Kyoto accord (which times out in 2012).

This week, a collection of politicians are scheduled to join the party, and the early reports suggest that they will shift the mood from merely pessimistic to decidedly defeatist.

On behalf of the DeSmogBlog, I will be on the ground in Poznan, ready to bring you the news.

UNFCCC: World leaders face big expectations, weak support

Half the respondents to an 11-country climate change survey want government action - especially direct investment in alternative energy - but only one quarter of the people believe governments a making the efforts they should.

The Climate Confidence Monitor is a project of the HSBC Climate Project, and this year it surveyed 12,000 people in developing world countries like Brazil, China, India and Mexico, and in wealth leaders like the Canada, France, The U.K. and the U.S. Perhaps embarrassingly, the survey found that residents in the developing world are very ready to make lifestyle changes to defend against climate change, while the majority of people in the richer countries are just not interested.

Gwynne Dyer: Dab Those Bali Tears

As we now all know, COP-13 did not set the hard emissions-reductions targets that humankind so desperately needs. But there was a silver lining in the South Pacific, argues the legendary journalist who is perhaps best known for his 1980s TV miniseries War.

Dyer's new column pulls back the scope, and places COP-13's non-outcome in the wider context of human evolution. We're getting there, folks, he says, and everything's going to be alright.

Europe Blinks; U.S., Canada Win Lame Bali Compromise

Honoring the the will of the lowest common denominator - the worst polluters and most resistant policy makers in the world - 191 countries negotiating global greenhouse emission limits in Bali have come to a “compromise” that doesn't mention actual limits.

Bali: Canadian Security Threatens Enviros with Indonesian Jail

The head of the Canadian delegation's security contingent threatened a group of young environmentalists with the prospect of spending time in an Indonesian jail, yesterday - and then followed up by summoning Indonesian police, as CanWest News Service's Mike de Souza reports here.

It's fortunate that the Indonesian police have a sense of occasion - even a tolerance for democracy - that goes beyond what is being shown in the Canadian delegation. The police interviewed the young environmentalists briefly and then left them to their task.


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