Poznan Climate Change Conference: tourism must be part of common climate solutions


POZNAN, Poland / MADRID, Spain – The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland (December 1-12, 2008) http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_14/items/4481.php ended successfully with a clear commitment from governments to shift into full negotiating mode next year in order to shape an ambitious and effective international response to climate change, to be agreed in Copenhagen, Denmark at the end of 2009.

“Governments have sent a strong political signal that despite the financial and economic crisis, significant funds can be mobilized for both mitigation and adaptation in developing countries with the help of a clever financial architecture and the institutions to deliver the financial support,” said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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“We now have a much clearer sense of where we need to go in designing an outcome, which will spell out the commitments of developed countries, the financial support required, and the institutions that will deliver that support as part of the Copenhagen outcome,” he added.

Countries meeting in Poznan made progress on a number of issues that are important in the short run – up to 2012 – particularly for developing countries, including adaptation, finance, technology, and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Progress was made in the area of technology with the endorsement of the Global Environment Facility’s “Poznan Strategic Program on Technology Transfer.” The aim of this program is to scale up the level of investment by levering private investments that developing countries require both for mitigation and adaptation technologies.

In addition, the conference discussed in detail the issue of disaster management, risk assessment, and insurance essential to help developing countries cope with the inevitable effects of climate change.

Governments meeting under the Kyoto Protocol agreed that commitments of industrialized countries post-2012 should principally take the form of quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives, in line with the type of emission reduction targets they have assumed for the first commitment period of the protocol.

Tourism was not under specific discussion, but UNWTO was present on behalf of the sector and as part of the overall UN System approach, presented by secretary general Ban Ki-moon. UNWTO’s position is set out below by UNWTO assistant secretary-general and spokesperson, Geoffrey Lipman:

Tourism – business and leisure travel – must be part of our common climate solutions.

Tourism drives 5 percent of the world economy directly, another 5 percent indirectly and also with a 5 percent greenhouse gas footprint but, of course, with significant transport exposure, which must be tackled firmly and equitably.

– The biggest threat is for small developing and island states, because tourism is their primary services export and job creator, and because they need travelers by air for their eco-tourism enabled development future.

– But equally the big emerging states are key players – Brazil, India, and China are becoming top tourism countries. By 2020, China will be the biggest inbound and outbound market.

– And the service providers are largely from industrialized countries.

If we get our transformation act together, we can play a leading edge role in the new Green Economy and Green New Deal. We are one of every 12 jobs in the wider sector, and we have a potential for many more green jobs.

UNWTO has been locked at the hip with the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for 5 years, and in 2007, a joint multi-stakeholder conference in Davos (supported by the World Economic Forum) and followed by ministerial summits, laid out guidelines for climate neutral tourism for all involved public/private and non-governmental (NGO) actors in the sector, consistent with the one UN Bali strategy.

Now we are engaged in widespread implementation: an ongoing campaign – Tourism Responding to the Challenge of Climate Change and another global tourism ministerial summit held in November 2008. We are reinforcing our commitment – notwithstanding the economic maelstrom – consistent with the UN Millennium Development Goals agenda.

Much will come eventually from the private sector with its appetite for innovation and with governments and consumers looking for cleaner, greener travel. In www.climatesolutions.travel we will highlight best practice in green tourism infrastructure, renewable energies, alternate fuels, and the like.

Last, but definitely not least, tourism is one of the world’s top communications sectors and as such can be a positive catalyst for more general change and a major component of communication, educational, and capacity-building initiatives.

UNWTO is committed to climate neutrality and equally committed to playing its full part in the essential change spearheaded by secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.