Opportunity lost at Poznan (Google / The Canberra Times)

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Opportunity lost at Poznan


After two weeks spent in frantic negotiations over commas and semi-colons, the climate negotiations at Poznan have taken only the barest shuffle towards Copenhagen, and on some crucial issues like targets for developed countries have actually retreated from Bali. Our Pacific island neighbours made passionate pleas their very survival was threatened by climate change unless the world responded. Tiny Tuvalu’s Prime Minister was fighting for his nation’s life. ”It is our belief that Tuvalu as a nation has a right to exist forever. We are not contemplating migration. We are a proud nation with a culture that cannot be relocated somewhere else. We want to survive as a nation and as a people and we will survive. Because it is our fundamental right.” Whether small countries from the Pacific, or highly populated ones like Bangladesh and the teeming nations of sub-Saharan Africa, all pointed to the fact that they had not contributed to the problem of climate change, but were bearing the brunt through rising sea levels, desertification, worse storms and food and water shortages. They fear they will not be able to pass on their islands, their homes and their culture to their children and grandchildren. Their calls at Poznan for the world’s governments to take urgent action have been increasing. But were they heard by the rest of the world?

The climate negotiations in Poznan were the halfway point between the landmark agreement at Bali to begin negotiations for a new and effective global climate deal, and its conclusion in December 2009 in Copenhagen.

There were expectations that the world’s governments would make strides at Poznan, to put us on track to agreeing to a global climate deal to prevent dangerous climate change. Important things had to be agreed at Poznan, including a plan to the level of ambition of the new climate deal.


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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