After 12 days of extenuating negotiations at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), delegates were able to agree on a work programme for next year. They also made progress on technical details, including how to measure deforestation and the principles of financing a fund to help poor and vulnerable countries to cope with the impacts of global warming (rising seas, floods, droughts, storms and wildfires).
However, key issues like the need to set long-term goals for slashing emissions and avoiding dangerous climate change impacts, as well as the introduction of a technology-transfer mechanism to allow developing countries to move towards low-carbon economies, were left untouched.
"We do have what we need to move forward and get a deal in Copenhagen, but we just left a lot on the table for us to do in 2009," said Keya Chatterjee, deputy director of the climate change programme at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), after the talks had concluded.
According to ministers and environmental organisations, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will play a crucial role in bringing world leaders on board in the negotiations. "You cannot forge such an international agreement without the involvement of heads of state," said Connie Hedegaard, Denmark's climate and energy minister and the chair of next year's meeting.
"In the end, this is about political responsibility and political will," Hedegaard conluded. Much hope rests on US President-elect Barack Obama, who will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States on 20 January 2009. His recent public pledge to reduce US greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020 indicated genuine commitment to leading the US into the low carbon economy.
Former US Vice President Al Gore boosted delegates on the final day of the Poznań talks with a passionate plea for a global warming agreement. He said human survival could be at risk unless rich and poor countries found a way to bridge the political divide.
Quoting Obama, Gore assured delegates that the incoming president would heed scientific advice, push for a domestic agreement and strive to reach a meaningful global climate deal.