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. Explainer: What You Need to Know About Climate Change and Blue Carbon

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW DELHI, Jun 08 (IPS) - The area where land meets the sea, known as coastal ecosystems, could be the key to reducing the effects of climate change.

  2. World Environment Day: UN Secretary-General Reckons with ‘A Moment of Truth’ on Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jun 05 (IPS) - Coming at a time of record-breaking global temperatures over the last twelve months, the UN chief calls on world leaders, including the G20 and G7 members, to commit to their climate action goals as laid out in the Paris Agreement. Experts across multiple industries are also encouraged to do their part to mitigate the impact of the climate crisis.

  3. UPDATING LIVE: Guterres issues hard-hitting call for climate action

    - UN News

    Welcome to our live coverage of one of the most important speeches on climate change that António Guterres has made since becoming Secretary-General. We're reporting live from the event in Manhattan, providing all the background information you need on the speech itself - and reaction to it inside the hall and around the world.

  4. There is an exit off ‘the highway to climate hell’, Guterres insists

    - UN News

    “It’s climate crunch time” when it comes to tackling rising carbon emissions the UN Secretary-General said on Wednesday, stressing that while the need for global action is unprecedented, so too are the opportunities for prosperity and sustainable development.

  5. Break free from pollution, climate chaos and ‘biodiversity decimation’, UN chief urges

    - UN News

    The UN Secretary-General has called for safeguarding Earth’s vital ecosystems from rampant pollution, worsening climate impacts and “biodiversity decimation”.

  6. Cabo Verde beats back climate change through South-South cooperation

    - UN News

    The small island developing State of Cabo Verde is fighting back against climate change with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

  7. To Tackle Climate Crisis, the World Bank Must Stop Financing Industrial Livestock

    - Inter Press Service

    WASHINGTON DC, May 29 (IPS) - Last week, the World Bank Group released a new report that highlights the urgent need to drastically reduce GHG emissions to address the climate crisis and calls on countries to act. However, while the World Bank’s acknowledgment of the damaging climate impacts of industrial agriculture is a crucial step forward, it’s simply not enough.

  8. More climate funding needed to ‘transition from rhetoric to decisive action’

    - UN News

    Climate action taken so far to help fund efforts in cash-strapped small island developing States (SIDS) “does not measure up to what has been said” in the wake of COP28 in Dubai last year.

  9. In Antigua, island youth build ‘wall of commitment’ to turn tide against climate crisis

    - UN News

    It may be built out of recyclable cardboard boxes, but when world leaders officially open the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) on Monday, one of the manifestations of young people’s hopes for a better future that will greet them is a solid “wall of commitment” imploring them to take more action against the ravages of climate change.

  10. ‘Critical gaps’ in understanding climate change fuel tropical disease spread

    - UN News

    A comprehensive review by the UN health agency has revealed critical gaps in understanding the full impact of climate change on malaria, dengue, trachoma and other tropical diseases.

  11. Bringing the World's Food Production in Line with Global Climate Goals

    - Inter Press Service

    NORTHAMPTON, Massachusetts, May 14 (IPS) - Food systems—how we grow, transport, prepare, and dispose of the food we eat—are responsible for roughly one-third of all global greenhouse gas emissions. And those gases are changing the climate, which in turn is disrupting the food supply. It would seem to be a classic vicious circle.

  12. Latin America and the Caribbean Hit with Record-Breaking Heat and Other Climate Effects in 2023

    - Inter Press Service

    DOMINICA, May 10 (IPS) - Every year for the last four years, a collaborative effort involving scientists and other experts has assessed the state of the climate in Latin America and the Caribbean. The findings have revealed increasingly alarming trends for the world’s second-most disaster-prone region.

  13. Another climate record: Extreme heat, hurricanes, droughts ravage Latin America and Caribbean

    - UN News

    2023 saw another climate record tumble, with Latin America and the Caribbean registering their hottest ever recorded temperatures, according to the UN’s weather monitoring agency.

  14. ‘Our voices need to be included’: Trinidadian youth make case for strong role in climate negotiations

    - UN News

    Trinidad and Tobago is described as one of the “frontline States”, those nations that are most severely affected by the impact of the climate emergency, and youth activists are among the most prominent voices in the country calling for stronger action to combat the crisis, both at home and abroad.

  15. Climate Crisis in Mountains: Borderless Struggle for Frontline Communities

    - Inter Press Service

    KATHMANDU, Nepal & SIKKIM, India, Apr 26 (IPS) - Climate change-induced flooding has devastated the lives of people living on the Indian and Nepalese sides of the Hindu Kush Himalaya. Although the floods have destroyed their lives and livelihoods, as this cross-border collaboration narrates, neither community has received any substantial compensation.For the last three years, Sambhunath Guragain has been waking up every morning to a view he doesn't want to see: discarded agricultural land where he and his family used to grow food, including rice, but the flood in 2021 changed everything.

  16. AI Policy Can't Ignore Climate Change: We Need Net Zero AI Emissions

    - Inter Press Service

    WASHINGTON DC, Apr 25 (IPS) - Artificial intelligence provides amazing potential for advancement across fields, from medicine to agriculture to industry to the entertainment business, even as it generates significant concerns. AI can also improve the efficiency of energy production and use in ways that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  17. Another Climate Victory in Europe and Counting

    - Inter Press Service

    LONDON, Apr 25 (IPS) - A group of senior Swiss women recently won a powerful victory offering renewed hope for tackling climate change. Earlier this month, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the government of Switzerland is violating human rights because it isn’t doing enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

  18. WMO report: Asia hit hardest by climate change and extreme weather

    - UN News

    Asia remained the world’s most disaster-affected region in 2023 due to weather, climate and water-related hazards. Storms and floods have hit the hardest, a new report published by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Tuesday reveals.

  19. UN chief calls for all hands on deck at Climate Promise 2025 launch

    - UN News

    Top UN officials launched a fresh global campaign to tackle the climate emergency on Tuesday, with social media influencers, Indigenous leaders and corporate giants showing what they’ve done and what’s to come.

  20. Indigenous Kalinago lead the way towards making Dominica ‘climate resilient’

    - UN News

    Dominica aims to become the world’s first “climate-resilient nation, and the indigenous Kalinago people are playing a leading role in developing the country and helping its people to thrive in the face of the climate emergency.

  21. Pioneering Digital Initiative Empowers Pacific Islands to Tackle Climate Disasters

    - Inter Press Service

    Apr 15 (IPS) - Winning a battle for survival requires understanding the opponent. And, for the peoples of 22 island nations and territories scattered across more than 155 million square kilometres of Pacific Ocean, the volatility and wrath of the climate are their greatest threats.

  22. Fishers in Madagascar adapt to deadly seas due to climate change

    - UN News

    Fishing communities in the south of Madagascar are facing sometimes deadly sea conditions due to climate change, but with the help of the UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) are finding ways to adapt to the new circumstances they face.

  23. The Climate Alarm Is Ringing – It’s Time to Stop Silencing It

    - Inter Press Service

    LONDON, Apr 12 (IPS) - The heat records keep tumbling – 2023 was the hottest year in recorded history. Extreme weather events keep mounting up. And yet the voices most strongly calling for action to prevent climate catastrophe are increasingly being silenced.

  24. Women Affected by Gender-Biased Climate Change Deserve Justice

    - Inter Press Service

    BULAWAYO, Apr 11 (IPS) - While research into the unequal impacts of climate change on women is growing, more is needed to enable them to realize their rights to climate justice.

  25. The US Must Address More Than LNG To Mitigate Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    WASHINGTON DC, Apr 10 (IPS) - Earlier this year, the Biden administration paused action on pending approvals for U.S. liquefied natural gas exports to countries without a U.S. free-trade agreement, with President Biden citing ”the urgency of the climate crisis.” The decision was hailed by climate activists and criticized by oil and gas industry representatives.

  26. To Mitigate Climate Change Associated Disasters That Impact the Agricultural Sector - Launch Multipronged Efforts

    - Inter Press Service

    URBANA, Illinois, US, Apr 10 (IPS) - Recently, the United Nations in collaboration and the World Meteorological Organization released a report that highlighted the impacts of climate change including on agriculture.

  27. Social Protection, a Key Solution for Directing Climate Finance To Poor Small-Scale Farmers

    - Inter Press Service

    ROME, Apr 05 (IPS) - Climate change is exacerbating inequalities between and within countries, disproportionately affecting poor households in rural areas. In fact, we know that more than half of the resources of the poor – a large part of whom are small-scale farmers - are lost due to climatic hazards. This has negative impacts on the incomes of these people and their ability to meet their essential needs, including food.

  28. Taking Charge: Three Actions to Help Combat Climate Change and Save Amazonia

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Apr 04 (IPS) - Climate change is the defining crisis of our time––it is the ultimate equalizer from which no one is immune. The Earth's ecosystems are on the brink of collapsethreatening biodiversity and human societies in unprecedented ways at a global scale.

  29. Climate Change: the Partnership with Asian & Pacific Small Island Developing States

    - Inter Press Service

    BANGKOK, Thailand, Apr 02 (IPS) - Stories of growing vulnerability make regular headlines across all Asian and Pacific small island developing States (SIDS). With tens of thousands of people displaced every year due to climate and disaster-related events, there are continued concerns about the costs of climate-related hazards.

  30. The Impact of Climate Change on a Biodiversity Hot Spot

    - Inter Press Service

    KATHMANDU, Nepal, Mar 29 (IPS) - If there is a place where the interlinkages and dependencies between the effects of climate warming and biodiversity loss are clearly at display, it’s Nepal. There is clear evidence on the impact of climate change on the country’s ecosystem considering the fact that Nepal is an important biodiversity hotspot.

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  • by Anup Shah
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