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. Madagascar: Severe drought could spur world’s first climate change famine

    - UN News

    More than one million people in southern Madagascar are struggling to get enough to eat, due to what could become the first famine caused by climate change, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). 

  2. Despite Climate Crisis, Politicians Will Double the Production of Energy from Fossil Fuels

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Oct 21 (IPS) - In a time when the world's scientific community sounds louder, and stronger than ever, the alarm about the fast growing climate crisis and its destructive impacts, governments still plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels in 2030.

  3. COP26: Building Climate Resilience Will Require a Focus on Those Furthest Behind

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Oct 21 (IPS) - As the United Nations Climate Change Conferencealso known as COP26, approaches (31 October -12 November in Glasgow, Scotland), climate action is more urgent than ever. Yes, we need climate change mitigation.

  4. Climate Change: How 1.3 Billion Africans Cause Least But Suffer Most

    - Inter Press Service

    MADRID, Oct 20 (IPS) - While Africa reportedly causes just 4 percent of global emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) —an acidic colourless gas with a density about 53% higher than that of dry air, causing climate change—, this vast continent, home to over 1.300 billion inhabitants in 52 countries, bears the heaviest brunt of 80 percent of the climate crisis destructive impacts.

  5. Forests & Climate: We Need to do Much, Much More

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW JERSEY, USA, Oct 20 (IPS) - Governments agree that saving the climate means saving forests – but ambition and action fall short of what’s required.

    First the good news: one of the forest goals agreed by governments, businesses and civil society organizations has been met.

  6. Fossil fuel production ‘dangerously out of sync’ with climate change targets

    - UN News

    Despite increased climate ambition and net-zero commitments, governments still plan to produce more than double the amount of energy from fossil fuels in 2030, than the amount that would limit global warming to the Paris Agreement level of 1.5°C. 

  7. UN-backed report reveals rising climate change risk across Africa

    - UN News

    Climate change contributed to mounting food insecurity, poverty and displacement in Africa last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and partners said in a report published on Tuesday. 

  8. World Food Day: Climate Change is Exacerbating Hunger & Conflict—it’s Time to Break the Cycle

    - Inter Press Service

    STOCKHOLM, Oct 13 (IPS) - Hunger, violent conflict and the visible impacts of climate change are all on the rise. World Food Day, October 16, is a reminder that we need to talk about the intricate ways that these challenges are connected—and how to tackle them together.

  9. WHO: Global health community prescribes climate action for COVID recovery

    - UN News

    Ambitious national climate commitments are crucial for States to sustain a healthy, green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new UN health agency report launched on Monday in the lead-up to the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

  10. Mangrove Blue Carbon for Climate Change Mitigation

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Oct 07 (IPS) - Smelly, boggy, and full of bugs, mangroves’ superpowers are well hidden. However, there is rising confidence that mangroves are the silver bullet to combat the effects of climate change.

  11. 7 climate action highlights to remember before COP26

    - UN News

    A September to remember, a pivotal month for climate action commitments. From the United Nations General Assembly week to the final pre-COP meeting, last month was an important time to build momentum before the decisive UN Climate Conference COP26 in early November.   

  12. Climate action: ‘Time is running out’, UN chief tells ministers

    - UN News

    With just one month left until the COP26 climate change conference, countries must do more to reduce emissions, finance climate action and support mitigation, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the final official ministerial meeting in Milan, Italy, on Thursday. 

  13. Keep raising your voices, UN chief tells young climate leaders

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    With the climate crisis already devastating lives and incomes, young people will be critical to driving global action forward, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told participants attending the Pre-COP Youth Event in Milan, Italy, on Thursday.

  14. Niger: Climate change is another pandemic with devastating effects

    - UN News

    Apart from disastrous economic consequences, the COVID-19 pandemic has also amplified the climate and security crisis in the Sahel, said Niger’s Minister of Foreign Affairs during the country’s turn to speak at the UN General Assembly. 

  15. Pacific nations appeal for solidarity to combat COVID-19 and climate change

    - UN News

    Pacific Island leaders speaking in the UN General Assembly on Saturday underlined the need for global solidarity, commitment and action to tackle COVID-19 and climate change, two crises which threaten sustainable development. 

  16. Alarm bells are ringing over conflict, COVID and climate, ‘now we must respond’, Ireland tells UN Assembly

    - UN News

    Looking back over the first four days of the high-level week, the Ireland’s Prime Minister said a series of alarms have sounded in the Hall of the General Assembly: for conflict, for COVID, for climate.  

  17. UN chief: Window to avert devasting climate impacts ‘rapidly closing’

    - UN News

    No region is immune to climate disasters the UN chief told the Security Council on Thursday, warning that “our window of opportunity” to prevent the worst climate impacts is “rapidly closing”.

  18. Support developing countries with climate mitigation: Bosnia and Herzegovina

    - UN News

    Financial support will be critical if developing countries are to meet global climate goals, the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Željko Komšić, said in the UN General Assembly on Wednesday.    

  19. World’s two largest economies commit to climate action – Guterres

    - UN News

    UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday welcomed important commitments made towards climate action by the world’s two largest economies, as the 76th High Level Debate began in New York.

  20. Brazilian President commits country to climate neutrality by 2050

    - UN News

    Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro highlighted this Tuesday, in New York, his country’s work on environmental preservation and the fight against climate change.  

  21. How Jamaica got Youth Climate Action Engagement Right

    - Inter Press Service

    DOMINICA, Sep 21 (IPS) - When the NDC Partnership, the alliance which helps governments to determine and achieve their climate goals, held its first-ever Global Youth Engagement Forum in July, several segments were underpinned by Jamaica’s model of engaging young people and sustaining youth interest in climate initiatives.

  22. Call for ‘decisive action now’ to avoid climate catastrophe

    - UN News

    Speaking alongside the UK Prime Minister in New York on Monday the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has called on world leaders for “decisive action now to avert climate catastrophe.” 

  23. ‘Tipping point’ for climate action: Time’s running out to avoid catastrophic heating

    - UN News

    The temporary reduction in carbon emissions caused by global COVID-19 lockdowns did not slow the relentless advance of climate change. Greenhouse gas concentrations are at record levels, and the planet is on path towards dangerous overheating, a multi-agency climate report published on Thursday warns. 

  24. CommonSensing Project Builds Climate Resilience for Small Island Nations

    - Inter Press Service

    Sydney, Australia, Sep 10 (IPS) - The UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme (IPP) CommonSensing is led by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) through its Operational Satellite Applications programme (UNOSAT), which is working with selected partners including the Commonwealth Secretariat, to improve resilience to the effects of climate change in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

  25. Latin America's Central Banks Push Climate Crisis to the Back Burner

    - Inter Press Service

    MEXICO CITY, Sep 10 (IPS) - Despite the impact that their policies have with regard to the climate emergency, Latin America's central banks continue to avoid applying guidelines in measures that affect the operation of credit institutions, which distances them from compliance with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

  26. Climate action: Guterres hails Latin American and Caribbean leadership

    - UN News

    The UN chief on Wednesday commended the leadership of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on climate action. 

  27. In a Watershed Year for Climate Change, the Commonwealth Secretary-General calls for Urgent, Decisive and Sustained Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    London, Sep 08 (IPS) - This November, five years after signing the Paris Agreement and pledging to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a further target of below 1.5 degrees Celsius, world leaders will meet in Glasgow, UK amid COVID-19 pandemic shocks, rising hunger and an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that warns of more extreme temperature, droughts, forest fires and ice sheet loss due to human activity.

  28. Yemen: ‘Climate of fear’ grows, all sides to blame, say rights experts

    - UN News

    There has been no let-up in more than six years of conflict in Yemen, as a growing “climate of fear” among civilians continues, a panel of UN-appointed independent rights experts said on Wednesday.

  29. Climate Crisis Drives Up Cost of Electricity and Brings Big Changes in Brazil

    - Inter Press Service

    RÍO DE JANEIRO, Sep 08 (IPS) - As most of the world seeks to modify its energy mix to mitigate climate change, Brazil has also been forced to do so to adapt to the climate crisis whose effects are being felt in the country due to the scarcity of rainfall.

  30. Drop coal or climate change will ‘wreak havoc’ across Australian economy

    - UN News

    Climate change will “wreak havoc” across the Australian economy if coal is not rapidly phased out, a senior UN official warned on Monday. 

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  • by Anup Shah
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