COP19—Warsaw Climate Conference

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  • by Anup Shah
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On this page:

  1. Introduction
  2. Meeting outcome
  3. In context: common but differentiated responsibilities
  4. In context: Typhoon Haiyan
  5. Lack of urgency
  6. More information
  7. News stories from IPS


November 11 – 23, 2013, Warsaw, Poland was the venue for the 19th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the 19th Conference of the Parties — or COP 19.

The purpose of this conference was to create a loss and damage pillar of a new climate treaty to be finalized in 2015. The other two pillars discussed in previous meetings are mitigation (emission reductions) and adaptation pillars.

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Meeting outcome

The main outcome of the meeting was the establishment of an international mechanism for a loss and damage associated with climate change impacts .

Predictably, the loss and damage aspect of climate negotiations brought out the worst in some countries. Some developing countries were going to resist the idea of financing adaptation to climate change, while others appeared to hate the idea of climate reparations for poor countries. A few years earlier, industrialized nations had made a legal commitment to a global climate fund. Unsurprisingly, not much came of it, as Inter Press Service summarized,

In 2009 at the semi-infamous Copenhagen talks, the rich countries made a deal with developing countries, saying in effect: We’ll give you billions of dollars for adaptation, ramping up to 100 billion dollars a year by 2020, in exchange for our mitigation amounting to small CO2 cuts instead of making the big cuts that we should do.

The money to help poor countries adapt flowed for the first three years but has largely dried up. Warsaw was supposed to be the Finance COP to bring the promised money. That didn't happen.

Countries like Germany, Switzerland and others in Europe only managed to scrape together promises of 110 million dollars into the Green Climate Fund. Developing countries wanted a guarantee of 70 billion a year by 2016 but were blocked by the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan and others.

Stephen Lehey, South Scores 11th-Hour Win on Climate Loss and Damage, Inter Press Service, November 24, 2013

It got to the point that hundreds of representatives from various NGOs walked out of the negotiating rooms to protest against developed countries’ reluctance to commit to a loss and damage mechanism. And this was a day after the G77+China group of 133 developing countries walked out of negotiations over the same thing.

Looking through the briefing reports from the respected NGO, the Third World Network, It seems that on the surface, while an outcome was eventually thrashed out, there are many areas of weakness of sufficient vagueness to satisfy everyone that contentious issues that are seemingly resolved can still be challenged and changed in the future.

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In context: common but differentiated responsibilities

Many years ago all nations agreed that climate change was largely the result of actions from today’s industrialized nations, as carbon dioxide — the main greenhouse gas — stays in the atmosphere for decades. Yet, the poorest would end up suffering the most for a problem they largely did not cause. The approaches to mitigation (emissions reduction) would therefore be different for those groups of countries — the common but differentiated responsibilities principle.

It is in this context that the discussion for loss and damage has come about. And it is something that rich countries are keen to get rid of .

The years of resistance on this issue (and many others) means each time it is discussed again the reactions seem to get even more hostile. Combined with the lack of detailed context in the mainstream media coverage of this aspect, it then becomes easier each time to see culprits as China and India given their enormous greenhouse emissions in recent years, compared to the far greater amount by the industrialized nations over the longer period. See this site’s section on climate justice for more detailed background.

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In context: Typhoon Haiyan

Typhoon Haiyan was the largest cyclone on record to hit land

The meeting came at the time when the devastating Typhoon Haiyan had just killed thousands in the Philippines and affected millions more. It was an ominous warning of what could be more frequent as climate change continues to take hold.

It was also an example of how poorer nations could be affected by a problem they have largely not been responsible for and that while all the international outpouring of aid and assistance was incredibly welcome, that support for preventing and adapting to such events is paramount and efforts are urgently needed to curb emission increases.

In an emotional speech the Philippines lead negotiator for the conference, Naderev Saño, received a standing ovation for announcing that he will go on a hunger strike until a meaningful outcome is in sight.

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Lack of urgency

Inter Press Service (IPS) noted the seeming lack of urgency given the years and years of delay and watering down of meaningful action:

To have a good chance at staying under two degrees C, industrialised countries need to crash their CO2 emissions 10 percent per year starting in 2014, said Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester.

We can still do two C but not the way we're going, Anderson said on the sidelines of COP 19 in Warsaw. He wondered why negotiators on the inside are not reacting to the reality that it is too late for incremental changes.

I’m really stunned there is no sense of urgency here, he told IPS.

Stephen Lehey, South Scores 11th-Hour Win on Climate Loss and Damage, Inter Press Service, November 24, 2013

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More information

As the conference is still underway as this page is written, more information will be added here after the event is over.

For more about the issues from other organizations, here are some starting points:

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News stories from IPS

Below is a list of stories from Inter Press Service related to the Warsaw climate conference and its aftermath.

  1. Drawing a line in the sand as communities adapt to climate change

    - UN News

    Communities in some of the most climate-change-affected areas in southern Madagascar are finding ways to thrive in increasingly challenging environments by becoming more resilient and adapting to unpredictable weather patterns.

  2. Climate and conflict collide on the high seas: UN warns of soaring costs and delays

    - UN News

    Attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea coupled with wider geopolitical and climate-related crises, are upending international trade, inflating costs and causing major delays, the UN’s trade and development body said on Thursday.

  3. Phasing out from Fossil Fuels: An Imperative for Climate Justice

    - Inter Press Service

    YAOUNDE, Feb 20 (IPS) - Climate change made 2023 the warmest year on record. As urgency mounts to address this worldwide crisis, phasing out the use of fossil fuels is a necessary step that all nations must take. This is because fossil fuels—coal, oil and gas -- are the primary drivers of the climate crisis accounting for over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90% of all carbon dioxide emissions.

  4. Climate-affected Madagascar adapts to new reality: A Resident Coordinator blog

    - UN News

    People living in Madagascar are learning to adapt to rapidly altering climatic conditions in what is said to be the fourth most climate change affected country worldwide; that’s according to the UN Resident Coordinatorthe most senior UN official in the Indian Ocean island nation.

  5. Grassroots Voices Unite to Call for Climate Justice

    - Inter Press Service

    KATHMANDU, Feb 16 (IPS) - Kiprotich Peter from the East African country of Kenya is trying to convey his climate crisis message using the platform of the World Social Forum (WSF) taking place in the mountain nation of Nepal, which has also been battered by the impacts of climate change.

  6. Rising hunger: UN chief identifies wars, climate chaos as aggravating factors

    - UN News

    Countries must act now to break the deadly links between conflict, climate and food insecurity, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday, addressing a Security Council meeting focused on these challenges.

  7. Climate Change Is Amplifying Household’s Food Insecurity, Putting More Pressure on Women’s Mental Health

    - Inter Press Service

    KATHMANDU, Feb 12 (IPS) - Studies have long shown that some women’s lower status in Nepali households could mean that they eat last and less and as a result lack nutrition. Experts are now looking into how this could affect their mental health, and if the growing impacts of climate change might amplify the process.

  8. Hit by Climate Change, Authorities Seek to Improve Saffron Yields in Kashmir

    - Inter Press Service

    SRINAGAR, India, Feb 07 (IPS) - Saffron, the expensive spice from the Kashmir Himalayas, has been facing challenges for years, mostly related to yields and inadequate irrigation compounded by the climate crisis.

  9. Road to COP29: Highest Climate Ambitions Needed to Decarbonize World

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Feb 05 (IPS) - The road to COP29 has begun in earnest in the backdrop of a global climate report indicating that not only was 2023 the warmest year in a 174-year climate record, it was the warmest by far. Record-breaking temperatures, combined with El Niño, pushed vulnerable and poor nations in the Global South to the frontlines of extreme and severe weather events.

  10. How Asia Can Unlock $800 Billion of Climate Financing

    - Inter Press Service

    WASHINGTON DC, Jan 31 (IPS) - Countries in the Asia-Pacific region face a shortfall of at least $800 billion in climate financing. With public finances depleted by the pandemic, policymakers must unlock the vast potential of private capital to join the fight more effectively against global warming.

  11. Snow Tales: Too Little, Too Late, Say Climate Experts

    - Inter Press Service

    KARACHI, Jan 29 (IPS) - Whether the late snow in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region is an anomaly or an indication of the impacts of climate change, which brings erratic and at times devastating weather patterns, experts in the region believe not enough is being invested in the development of capacities, systems, and infrastructure to improve resilience.

  12. Under the Scorching Sun Kenyan Farmers Find New Ways to Beat Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    KOTIANG, KENYA, Jan 26 (IPS) - Rural Kenyans are forging a path toward a more sustainable future and protecting their lives and livelihoods from climate change through regenerative agriculture, nurturing hope for their communities and the environment.

  13. IPS Offers Climate Change Justice Fellowship

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jan 24 (IPS) - IPS is offering an exceptional opportunity for two journalists to develop their understanding of climate change justice.

  14. Matchmaking for Green Cities? Accelerating Climate Finance in Urban Areas

    - Inter Press Service

    BANGKOK, Thailand, Jan 23 (IPS) - Asia and the Pacific is home to 54 per cent of the world's urban population, who are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change (ESCAP, 2023; IPCC, 2022). Why then, do climate action projects in cities commonly face delays in implementation?

  15. Advanced Economies Must Let the IMF Play a Productive Role on Climate

    - Inter Press Service

    WASHINGTON DC, Jan 12 (IPS) - The world faces the existential threat of a climate change crisis, and it is becoming increasingly clear that the outcome of the latest UN climate summit, COP28 — hosted as it was by the CEO of one of the world’s largest oil companies, and filled with a record number of fossil fuel lobbyists — is not going to do much to change that.

  16. World News in Brief: Time for climate justice urges UN chief, Ukraine war update, call for ‘free and fair’ elections

    - UN News

    The European climate agency on Tuesday reported that record global heat last year showed an overall increase of 1.48°C above pre-industrial levels – just a fraction below the 1.5-degree threshold laid out by the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.

  17. Peru's Andean Peoples 'Revive' Water that the Climate Crisis Is Taking From Them

    - Inter Press Service

    CUZCO, Peru, Dec 18 (IPS) - "The rich world has caused the climate change that is drying up our water sources, and here we are doing everything we can to recover them because otherwise we will die," said Juan Hilario Quispe, president of the small farming community of Muñapata, just over 50 kilometers from the Peruvian city of Cuzco.

  18. IFAD's Record-Breaking Pledges: Lifeline for Rural Communities Cornered by Climate, Hunger

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Dec 15 (IPS) - The world is not on track to end hunger and poverty as a future of growing food insecurity and climate challenges beckon. Small-scale farmers are the backbone of food production, producing one-third of the world’s food and up to 70 percent of the food consumed in Africa and Asia, yet they are often cut off from the services they need to pull themselves out of poverty and food insecurity.

  19. INTERVIEW: ‘Climate of division’ creating more challenging environment for UN peacekeeping

    - UN News

    UN peacekeeping missions in Sub-Saharan Africa are operating under more challenging political and security conditions due to a multiplication of crises and a “climate of division” amongst Member States, particularly in the Security Council. That’s according to the head of UN Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

  20. Its Time To Align Climate Finance and Social Justice, Says Youth Climate Activist

    - Inter Press Service

    DUBAI, Dec 12 (IPS) - Joshua Amponsem, co-director of the Youth Climate Justice Fund, believes it is time to ensure climate finance and social justice issues are elevated to the top of the agenda and negotiations at COP28.

  21. Climate advocates demand stronger COP28 language on fossil fuels

    - UN News

    The latest COP28 draft outcome text released to negotiators in Dubai Monday evening dropped a call to ‘phaseout’ fossil fuels, prompting outcry from climate vulnerable countries and civil society.

  22. Climate Justice is the Responsibility of the Wealthier Nations, Says Bangladesh Climate Envoy

    - Inter Press Service

    DUBAI, Dec 11 (IPS) - Wealthier nations must deliver the finances so developing countries can adapt—the time for excuses is over, says Saber Hossain Chowdhury, Bangladesh's Special Envoy for Climate Change in the Prime Minister's Office.

  23. Greening Education: Education Paying Highest Cost for Ongoing Climate Crisis

    - Inter Press Service

    DUBAI, Dec 09 (IPS) - It is a global catastrophe of astounding proportions that millions of children are on the run today, forcibly displaced from their homes. As conflict and climate change increasingly become the most pressing challenges facing the world now, the number of displaced children has doubled in the last decade alone, reaching a record high of 43.3 million children.

  24. For Africans, the Climate Debate Around the Role of Livestock Misses the Mark

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 08 (IPS) - Africa is contending with a climate crisis it did not create without sufficient recognition for the unique rights and needs of the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population. Not only is the continent least responsible for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, having historically produced just a tiny fractionbut it is also disproportionately impacted by the consequences of emissions generated elsewhere.

  25. Why Climate Justice and Global Financial Reform Are Inseparable

    - Inter Press Service

    DUBAI & DOMINICA, Dec 08 (IPS) - An award-winning international development expert and a climate justice expert have called for a rethink of the global financial system that would bring reparatory justice to small, climate-vulnerable nations while offering concessionary development financing to the countries most in need of assistance.

  26. Our voices and needs must be put first in climate talks, young people tell COP28

    - UN News

    Young climate advocates at COP28 in Dubai on Friday said they will not sit idly by while climate change threatens their futures. They demanded that government policymakers put the needs of the world’s nearly 2 billion children first – their voices and ideas can help rescue the planet.

  27. Faith Pavilion Adds Spiritual Dimension to Climate Crisis Resolution

    - Inter Press Service

    DUBAI, Dec 07 (IPS) - For the first time at COP28, faith has a pavilion alongside science, technology, nations, and philanthropy, allowing religious leaders from all over the world to discuss the potential for using spiritual merits to protect the earth from climate change.

  28. COP28: Climate Migrants Rights, Risk-based Labor Polices Under the Spotlight

    - Inter Press Service

    DUBAI, Dec 07 (IPS) - With COP23 underway, researchers and activists are pointing at the plight of climate migrants.

  29. COP28 is about action, not politics and point scoring, says UN climate chief

    - UN News

    UN climate chief Simon Stiell said on Wednesday that COP28 delegates are not in Dubai to “score points” and play at “lowest-denominator politics”; they must take ambitious action on curbing global warming and ending the climate crisis.

  30. Emerging Climate Finance Infrastructure to Match Africa's Green Bankable Solutions

    - Inter Press Service

    DUBAI, Dec 06 (IPS) - Although long profiled as the face of climate change, a high-risk continent with a pipeline of unbankable green projects, there are areas where Africa is leading the world. The 1987 accidental discovery of the first deposit of natural hydrogen during a water drilling campaign in Bourakebougou village, Mali, is today proving that Africa can export viable green solutions.

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  • by Anup Shah
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