A major United Nations seminar on climate change has been heavily criticised by Friends of the Earth International for failing to discuss the critical issue of how climate change should be tackled. Instead, the conference, which is being held in Bonn, Germany on 16-17 May 2005, will be packed with sixty presentations on climate protection policies.

Friends of the Earth International's climate campaigner Catherine Pearce
said: "Climate change is the biggest threat the planet faces. So why are the urgent actions needed to tackle the problem being ignored by this UN conference. The alarm bells are ringing, but the world is dithering.
Unless we act soon it will be too late."

Agreed at the latest UN climate conference in Buenos Aires (Argentina) in December 2004, the seminar has no mandate to open up negotiations on future commitments beyond 2012 (when the first commitment period ends).

This conference, or 'seminar', does not either have the mandate to make recommendations to the first Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol in Montreal later this year.

However this is an unprecedented opportunity for governments to discuss action outside of the formal negotiations � domestic measures to reduce emissions and strategies to cope with the impacts already being felt around the world. Friends of the Earth believes the seminar must go beyond talking about efforts to meet current targets of the Kyoto Protocol, which are inadequate to meet the growing climate challenge.

"This seminar should be the place where industrialised countries show that they are serious about climate change and ready to address their historic and ongoing role in causing the problem. Rich nations must demonstrate the greatest efforts in reducing their own emissions, and enable developing countries to choose climate-friendly technologies to foster sustainable development, for example through opening new international funding streams to drive the transformation of our global economy. The huge economic benefits of such "low-carbon" policies should be showcased here," Catherine Pearce added.

Friends of the Earth also notes with concern that the poorest and most vulnerable countries to climate change have lost out in recent climate negotiations, with little commitments from the richest countries to support adaptation to climate change and support climate-friendly development in poor countries. These countries desperately need adequate funds, improved international development programmes which incorporate climate change into their design and support for refugees forced from their home. An international seminar like this which gathers experts from around the world should be addressing these issues.