COP19—Warsaw Climate Conference

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  • by Anup Shah
  • This page Created

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

Introduction

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. ‘Don’t work for climate wreckers’ UN chief tells graduates, in push to a renewable energy future

    - UN News

    Today’s college graduates can become the generation to succeed “where my generation has failed” the UN chief said on Tuesday, urging the class of 2022, not to work for “climate wreckers” in industries that continue to profit from fossil fuels.

  2. ‘We Have to Make Peace with Nature’: UN Deputy Chief meets inspiring young climate leaders in Indonesia

    - UN News

    A portable solar generator in a black case, and an eggplant grown in organic soil, were among the diverse items that a group of young climate leaders in Jakarta shared with the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed this weekend, embodying their own personal inspiration, and efforts to advance the fight against climate change.

  3. Climate change threatening access to water and sanitation

    - UN News

    Climate change is set to increase pressure significantly on people’s access to water and sanitation unless governments do more to prepare key infrastructure now, the UN warned on Friday.   

  4. No Climate Transition Without Securing Land Rights

    - Inter Press Service

    BERLIN, May 16 (IPS) - The 15th session of the Conference of Parties (COP15) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), is taking place in Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire, from 9 to 20 May 2022. The theme: “Land, Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity.” “We are faced with a crucial choice,” Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told participants: “We can either reap the benefits of land restoration now or continue on the disastrous path that has led us to the triple planetary crisis of climate, biodiversity and pollution”

    The landmark land tenure decision by parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 2019 offers a blueprint for upcoming climate negotiations in Sharm El Sheikh in November.

  5. UN joins faith-based initiative for shift towards climate-responsible finance

    - UN News

    The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) joined religious leaders and others on Monday in signing a landmark joint appeal for climate-responsible finance “as a moral imperative towards children”.

  6. International Day for Monuments and Sites spotlights climate change

    - UN News

    One in three natural sites and one in six cultural heritage sites are currently threatened by climate change, the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, warned on Monday, the  International Day for Monuments and Sites.

  7. Stop the War: Act for Justice, Climate & Peace

    - Inter Press Service

    LONDON / JOHANNESBURG, Apr 15 (IPS) - Russia’s war in Ukraine has left many communities facing catastrophe. In a world already wracked by multiple crises such as searing inequality and escalating climate change, this conflict is tearing through communities.

  8. Commonwealth Climate Finance Hub to Boost Belizes Delivery of Climate Change Projects

    - Inter Press Service

    Kingston, Apr 13 (IPS) - In September 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK-based Commonwealth Secretariat announced that it had dispatched highly skilled climate finance advisors to four member nations to help them navigate the often-complicated process of accessing climate funds. Belize, the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) only Central American member, was one of the recipients.

  9. World Health Day: Take climate action, take care of each other

    - UN News

    An urgent call to protect health and mitigate the climate crisis was issued by the UN health agency on Wednesday, to mark World Health Day on Thursday.

  10. Sport must show leadership amidst climate crisis: UN deputy chief

    - UN News

    Athletes are among the most influential people on the planet and together with their managers, fans and others involved in organized sport, must contribute to global efforts to combat climate change. 

  11. Sport and climate change: Paralympic champion Tatyana Mcfadden explains the link

    - UN News

    Ahead of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, we spoke with the best female wheelchair racer of all time. She is now raising her voice for climate action, and she explained why global warming threatens everyone, especially persons with disabilities, and how sport can contribute to protecting our planet.

  12. Warning: Climate Crisis Is Now the Single Biggest Health Threat Facing Humanity

    - Inter Press Service

    MADRID, Apr 05 (IPS) - While the world’s top scientists and experts continue their arduous work to finally submit to politicians at the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt (7-18 November 2022), a new alert now emerges: the climate crisis has already become the single biggest health threat to humankind.

  13. 8 reasons not to give up hope - and take climate action

    - UN News

    Although once again the scientific community has made clear this week that we are not doing enough to limit global warming to the crucial 1.5°C threshold, the findings of the latest Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change report, are not all doom, and gloom.

  14. UN climate report: We’re on fast track to disaster, warns Guterres

    - UN News

    A new flagship UN report on climate change out Monday indicating that harmful carbon emissions from 2010-2019 have never been higher in human history, is proof that the world is on a “fast track” to disaster, António Guterres has warned.

  15. The key to climate action and sustainable peace? Women’s full and equal participation

    - UN News

    Women and children increasingly bear the brunt of climate change, which deepens the inequalities and vulnerabilities they already face, such as poverty, violence, lack of opportunities and basic human rights. Yet women are not victims; they are survivors, innovators and solution-multipliers who deserve a real seat at the table. Two Colombian activists tell us why this is true.

  16. UN weather agency to spearhead 5 year early warning plan, boosting climate action

    - UN News

    The UN set an ambitious five year deadline on Wednesday for countries to ensure that citizens worldwide are protected by early warning systems against extreme weather and climate change, the UN chief announced, marking World Meteorological Day.

  17. UN chief warns against ‘sleepwalking to climate catastrophe’

    - UN News

    The goal to limit future warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, highlighted in the Paris Agreement on climate change, and driven home in last November’s COP26, gathering in Glasgow, is now on “life support” and “in intensive care,” the UN chief told the Economist Sustainability Summit on Monday.   

  18. Exploring the Future of Climate Justice Through My Daughter's Eyes

    - Inter Press Service

    QUITO, Mar 11 (IPS) - People often feel that climate change is difficult to grasp and relate to. I have heard that it’s “too technical, too intangible, or too complicated” for us to care about. As a Latin American mother of two, I confess that for me, relating to climate change is becoming ever more simple. All I do is try to imagine the world my kids will live in in 2050 if we don’t do anything now, and I immediately understand the urgent need for bold, transformative global climate action.

  19. Enhancing Climate Ambition Amidst Global Challenges

    - Inter Press Service

    DOMINICA, Mar 10 (IPS) - In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the over 200 member-strong partnership is bolstering efforts to help countries meet commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and empower renewable energy, food security, and climate adaptation initiatives.A member-led global coalition of 202 countries and institutions, the NDC Partnership has turned the spotlight on climate action by supporting countries’ efforts to craft and implement Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which outline their commitments to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

  20. The Climate Change Shuffle: Deny, Delay, and Do Nothing

    - Inter Press Service

    PORTLAND, USA, Mar 07 (IPS) - While more than a half century ago the Twist was the craze in dance halls globally, today the Climate Change Shuffle is the craze in government halls and conference sites worldwide as officials dance around the dangers of climate change.

  21. International Women’s Day, 2022 - Collective Solutions to Improve Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Mar 02 (IPS) - The devastating effects of climate change continue to disproportionately affect women and girls in the poorest regions, who have contributed the least to global warming.

  22. IPCC adaptation report ‘a damning indictment of failed global leadership on climate’

    - UN News

    UN scientists on Monday delivered a stark warning about the impact of climate change on people and the planet, saying that ecosystem collapse, species extinction, deadly heatwaves and floods are among the "unavoidable multiple climate hazards” the world will face over the next two decades due to global warming,  

  23. Limiting the damage: UN helps policy-makers tackle climate change

    - UN News

    As extreme weather events become commonplace, threatening communities and economies across the world, the UN is helping policy-makers and leaders by projecting the impact of future climate hazards, and recommending the best, most cost-effective ways to adapt.

  24. Without climate action, extreme weather will trigger global humanitarian needs

    - UN News

    The impact of extreme weather on Madagascar is an example of the “runaway humanitarian needs” the world will face, unless it takes action to tackle the climate crisis, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.

  25. Women building a sustainable future: fighting back the desert, amid Niger’s refugee and climate crises

    - UN News

    Internal displacement, regional instability, and climate change have created a refugee crisis in Niger, but an initiative in the town of Ouallam is showing how different communities can work together to survive, and improve the local environment.

  26. Adapting to climate change ‘happening worldwide’, essential

    - UN News

    The impacts of climate change are already “very visible” and “happening worldwide”, the head of the UN weather agency told the start of the 55th Session of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which convened on Monday.

  27. World must ‘change track’ to protect oceans from climate crisis: Guterres

    - UN News

    The planet is facing the triple crises of climate disruption, biodiversity loss and pollution, Secretary-General António Guterres told the One Ocean Summit on Friday, warning that “the ocean shoulders much of the burden”.

  28. Wetlands: ‘Unsung heroes’ of the climate crisis

    - UN News

    For the first time, the United Nations on Wednesday celebrates World Wetlands Day, recognizing that these fragile ecosystems make a crucial contribution to biodiversity, climate mitigation, freshwater availability, and economic resilience.

  29. 2021 Year in Review: Climate action, or blah, blah, blah?

    - UN News

    This year saw another steady stream of UN-backed reports reinforcing a stark message: man-made climate change is an urgent and even existential threat to life on Earth. Will the international community’s efforts to tackle the crisis, as seen at the COP26 UN Climate Conference, result in meaningful action? 

  30. Uruguay Launches Sovereign Bond Linked to Climate Targets

    - Inter Press Service

    BUENOS AIRES, Dec 23 (IPS) - Sustainable finance continues to expand in Latin America, as governments and companies take advantage of growing interest among investors in instruments that protect biodiversity and respond to the climate crisis. In 2020, more than US$16 billion of green, social and sustainable bonds were issued in the region.

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  • by Anup Shah
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