- Adam Morton, Berlin
- The Age, December 2, 2008
THE United Nations' climate chief has raised fears the global financial crisis is pushing the world back towards dirty power,
with clean-energy projects around the globe facing delays as investment money dries up and oil prices fall.
The warning by Yvo de Boer came as about 10,000 delegates gathered in the Polish city of Poznan overnight for the start of two weeks of UN climate change talks — the last major meeting before a post-Kyoto climate deal is due to be signed late next year.
Climate Change Minister Penny Wong will attend the second week of the talks, but will arrive without Australia's 2020 greenhouse target range as a bargaining chip. Long-promised to be announced before the summit, the targets have been delayed until three days after it ends.
Speaking on the eve of the summit, Mr de Boer called on governments and investors to see the financial crisis as "an opportunity for green growth", as up to 40 per cent of the world's power generation was replaced over the next decade.
"My firm belief is that if, as a result of that financial crisis, we make a next generation of bad investments, we will be setting
ourselves up for the next economic crisis," he said.
"You are already seeing around the world a number of wind energy projects being pushed back."
Warning that negotiations over the next 12 months would''affect the world that we leave behind us", he said cheap and
dirty power stations built now would last for 30 to 50 years.
"If we use the financial crisis as a reason for short-termthinking, then I believe we will basically be setting ourselves up for
capital stock destruction in 10, 15, 20 years' time."
Climate scientists have urged rich nations to commit to cuts of 25-40 per cent by 2020, warning greenhouse emissions must
peak by 2015 and be cut in half by 2050 to avoid a two-degree temperature rise expected to cause catastrophic climate
Worsening scientific predictions have convinced some that this is a conservative estimate of how quickly the globe needs to
act. In Australia, the Greens accused the Government of holding back its greenhouse targets to save itself from embarrassment at the climate summit.
"It's very clear that rather than lead, what Penny Wong wants to do is announce a really weak target," Greens climate
change spokeswoman Christine Milne said.
But Senator Wong said the greenhouse target range and the final design of emissions trading scheme were closely linked and it made sense to announce them at the same time, on December 15.
"Poznan is not the conference at which countries will be asked to make a binding commitment. Australia is taking a constructive role; we're taking an important role; we are committed to playing our full part in these international negotiations," she said on the ABC.
With TOM ARUP, AFP