UN Climate Chief Advocates Solar, Warns On Coal

The two-week United Nations Climate Change Conference talks began yesterday in Poznan Poland; a fitting country to hold such talks given Poland’s reliance on coal. Poland is said to be  the second most coal-dependent country in the world, producing 93 percent of its electricity from coal reserves according to figures from the World Coal Institute.

Due to its coal addiction, Poland generates nearly double the EU carbon dioxide emissions, the most common greenhouses gas contributing to global warming; however the country has been making serious attempts in recent years to reduce its coal related pollution.

Close to eleven thousand participants, including government delegates from 186 countries, academics, environmental groups and business leaders are attending the Poznan climate conference, part of the negotiations on an international response to climate change post-Kyoto which is due to be finalised in Copenhagen at the end of 2009; taking effect in 2013.

In 2007, Parties agreed to consider a greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 25 – 40% less than 1990 levels, a range which could be confirmed at Poznan. Representatives from Australia are attending the conference, with Climate Change Minister Penny Wong will leading the delegation. Far from being the darling of the last climate talks in Bali when Australia committed to ratifying Kyoto, the Federal Government has reneged on its commitment to present the Poznan meeting with Australia’s 2020 emissions reduction target. 

On the opening day of the talks, the U.N.’s climate chief  Yvo de Boer expressed fears of a secondary financial crisis if world governments continue to invest in the construction of high-polluting coal fired electricity generation facilities, which would ultimately need to be decommissioned as the effects of climate change are increasingly felt.

Mr de Boer referred to “bad energy loans” and “cheap and dirty” solutions that could lead to a need to build new low-carbon solar power plants or wind energy farms within the next couple of decades. 

De Boer believes the current financial crisis is actually an opportunity for redesigning the world’s economy around green growth and renewable energy alternatives.