Greens call on Govt not to drag chain in climate talks

The Government is being urged not to drag the chain during United Nations climate change talks beginning in Poland overnight, the Green party said today.

About 10,600 delegates from 186 governments, businesses and environmental groups will meet in Poznan for two weeks of talks.

The meeting marks the halfway point of a two-year push to agree a new climate treaty in Copenhagen at the end of 2009 to succeed the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012

Much of the debate is about trying to agree on an overall emissions cut by developed nations of 25 percent to 40 percent by 2020, though the final target is not likely to be set until the Copenhagen meeting.

There is also a great deal of argument about the rules on issues such as how forests are dealt with.

New Zealand's climate change ambassador Adrian Macey told Radio New Zealand that New Zealand wants the rules of the final deal agreed to before committing to a target.

The Government was criticised over the rules it agreed to, with others getting better deals and New Zealand being disadvantaged as it was the developed country which most heavily relied on agriculture.

Mr Macey said New Zealand was uncertain about what the rules are going to be and wanted new rules on agricultural emissions and land use changes.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said New Zealand should be showing leadership and focus on targets not on the rules around farming and forests.

"Our actions to exclude our largest pollution sources, can only lead to other countries seeking to do the same," Dr Norman said.

"If this happens we will undermine the talks and we will be targeted as a global climate criminal. Tourism Minister John Key will oversee a great leap backwards in our tourism industry."

New Zealand had a poor record on climate policy with emissions increasing by 26 percent since 1990 and National's plan to put on hold an emissions trading scheme, he said.

"Dragging the chain will simply slow the global response to the biggest challenge facing humanity."

Head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, Yvo de Boer, said meeting the climate change targets at the same time as the world was grappling with recession would be a challenge.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen will be among speakers at an opening ceremony on Monday, along with UN experts.

WWF and Greenpeace activists plan protests outside the conference centre to urge more action.

Mr de Boer praised President-elect Barack Obama for saying that he would seek to cut United States emissions of greenhouse gases back to 1990 levels by 2020 as part of global action to avert more heatwaves, floods, droughts, more powerful storms and rising seas.

US emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels in factories, power plants and cars, are about 14 percent above 1990 levels.

President George W. Bush did not ratify Kyoto, saying it would be too costly and excluded targets for developing nations such as China and India.

Mr de Boer said the economic slowdown was an opportunity to re-design the world economy but warned governments against making "cheap and dirty" choices of investing in high-polluting coal-fired power plants.

In Europe, economic slowdown has exposed doubts about the costs of an EU goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

UN talks host Poland, which gets 93 percent of its electricity from coal, and Italy are leading a drive for concessions in a package meant to be agreed at a December 11-12 summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

The talks in Poland will review new ideas for combating global warming, such as handing credits to tropical nations for preserving forests.

China is also suggesting that developed nations should give up to 1 percent of their gross national product in aid to help the poor switch from fossil fuels.

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