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

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. The planet’s on ‘red alert’ UN chief warns leaders at President Biden’s climate summit

    - UN News

    World leaders must act now and put the planet on a green path because “we are at the verge of the abyss”, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday in his address to the virtual climate summit convened by United States President Joseph Biden. 

  2. First Person: ‘Youth won’t stay silent’ says Madagascar climate activist

    - UN News

    Young people around the world “won’t stay silent” about the global climate crisis according to a youth activist from Madagascar. 

  3. Green transformation will rival industrial revolution: US climate envoy

    - UN News

    The transition to a global economic model which will slow down climate change and create jobs will be the “biggest economic transformation since the industrial revolution” according to John Kerry, the US climate envoy.

  4. Guterres urges cities to embrace ‘generational opportunity’ for climate action, sustainable development

    - UN News

    The United Nations Secretary-General, on Friday, called for a “revolution” in urban planning and urban transport to beat back impacts of climate change and build a green and sustainable future for all. 

  5. Barilla Foundation Brings Health and Climate Together in New Double Pyramid

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Apr 12 (IPS) - Following an extensive scientific review, the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation (BCFN) is preparing to launch a new food systems model which incorporates nutrition and climate.

  6. Paris goals still ‘long way off’, says President of UN climate conference

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    The world is “a long way off” from meeting the goals of the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the President of the crucial upcoming UN climate conference, COP26, said on Thursday.

  7. Renewable energy access key to climate adaptation in Africa: UN chief

    - UN News

    Support for climate adaptation in Africa is crucial, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday in appealing for greater action to provide renewable energy to hundreds of millions who still lack access to reliable and affordable electricity.

  8. Climate change top challenge over the next decade, UNESCO global survey finds

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    Climate change and loss of biodiversity is seen as the most pressing challenge over the decade, according to the World in 2030 Survey report published on Wednesday by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 

  9. More climate action needed during ‘make-or-break year’ for people and planet

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    The world needs “a major breakthrough” to slow the pace of climate change and build resilience to protect the most vulnerable from increasingly severe and frequent climate impacts, the deputy UN chief told a crucial high-level meeting on Wednesday, looking ahead to November’s COP26. 

  10. Guterres calls on US to lead global vaccination plan effort, climate action, welcoming Blinken to Headquarters

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    The Secretary-General welcomed a recommitted and re-engaged United States administration to United Nations Headquarters on Monday, albeit virtually, calling on it to play a leadership role in drawing up a global vaccination plan to beat COVID-19, and make the upcoming COP26 a watershed moment for climate action.

  11. Hope & Numbers: What will it take to Tip the Scales on Climate Action?

    - Inter Press Service

    AMSTERDAM, the Netherlands, Mar 24 (IPS) - We should be well on the way to solving the climate crisis by now.

    According to the Paris Agreement, last year should have been the year that all countries presented their commitments to cut carbon emissions for limiting global climate heating to within 1.5oC of pre-industrial levels.

  12. International Women’s Day, 2021 - Why Green Growth and Climate Action Fall Short Without Addressing Gender Inequality

    - Inter Press Service

    SEOUL, Republic of Korea, Mar 08 (IPS) - As the global effort to address climate change has strengthened over the last few years, so has the realization that rising temperatures and climactic disruptions disproportionately impact women, particularly in developing countries, as they tend to be more dependent upon natural resources and are thus overrepresented in resource-intensive economic sectors.

  13. International Women's Day 2021 A Post-COVID World Needs Amplified Womens Voices in Politics, Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Mar 06 (IPS) - The UN says young women remain particularly underrepresented in politics and disproportionately excluded from consultation on issues that affect them such as climate change. This IPS International Women’s Day article features 2 young Saint Lucian women; one in her first year as a senator and the other, a champion for sustainable living and environmental protectio.

    The theme for International Women’s Day 2021, ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in the COVID-19 World,’ is grounded in the reality that this women’s day is unlike any other.

  14. How Households Increased Food Waste is Feeding Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Mar 04 (IPS) - Twenty percent of all food bought by households, retailers, restaurants and other food services in 54 countries around the world was thrown away in 2019 -- contributing to some 931 million tonnes of food waste and feeding climate change.

  15. A Growing Shift in the Narrative about Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Feb 25 (IPS) - A keen awareness about the intersection of our ecosystem and the “accelerating destabilisation of the climate” is helping shift the narrative for climate action and can help us transition from being polluters to becoming protectors of the climate, said Marco Lambertini, Director General at the World Wide Fund for Nature.

  16. The Global Insecurity of Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    BONN, Germany, Feb 24 (IPS) - For Sudanese youth, climate change is synonymous with insecurity.

  17. Cuba Prioritises Sustainable Water Management in the Face of Climate Challenges

    - Inter Press Service

    HAVANA, Feb 23 (IPS) - With the construction of aqueducts, water purification and desalination plants, and investments to upgrade hydraulic infrastructure, Cuba is seeking to manage the impacts of droughts and floods that are intensifying with climate change.

  18. Successful Crop Innovation Is Mitigating Climate Crisis Impact in Africa

    - Inter Press Service

    IBADAN and MEXICO CITY, Feb 17 (IPS) - 17 February - African smallholder farmers have no choice but to adapt to climate change: 2020 was the second hottest year on record, while prolonged droughts and explosive floods are directly threatening the livelihoods of millions. By the 2030s, lack of rainfall and rising temperatures could render 40 percent of Africa’s maize-growing area unsuitable for climate-vulnerable varieties grown by farmers, while maize remains the preferred and affordable staple food for millions of Africans who survive on less than a few dollars of income a day.

  19. Leveraging AI to Fight Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Feb 17 (IPS) - International organisations, researchers and data scientists say artificial intelligence (AI) and big data are critical to combat years of promises but inadequate action on the climate, biodiversity and pollution crises.

  20. Climate Change & Policy Making in Nepal

    - Inter Press Service

    KATHMANDU, Nepal, Feb 16 (IPS) - Raju Pandit Chhetri is one of the most acclaimed climate change policy experts in Nepal and South Asia. As Director of the Prakiriti Resource Centre, an action focused think tank based in Kathmandu, Pandit Cheetri shares his opinion on the latest climate focused policies being undertaken by the Government of Nepal, especially the 2nd Nationally Determined Contribution NDC that was recently submitted by the Government.

  21. What Worlds Largest Climate Change Public Opinion Poll Says

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jan 27 (IPS) - Between October and December 2020, something was different for people playing popular video games like Words with Friends, Angry Birds and Subway Surfers. Instead of a traditional 30-second ad, gamers across the world were invited to participate in a climate change survey. It was an unconventional way of polling that gave University of Oxford researchers an opportunity to tap into the 2.7 billion user-strong gaming market and produce the world’s largest climate change public opinion poll.

  22. We are Facing a Climate Emergency, Warns UN Chief

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jan 26 (IPS) - Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in an address to the Climate Adaptation SummitWe begin this year with a heightened awareness of the importance of resilience. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that we cannot afford to ignore known risks.

  23. International Partnership Helps Mongolia Counter Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    BHUBANESWAR, India, Jan 26 (IPS) - Climate warming is believed to have taken place at some of the fastest rates in the world in Mongolia, raising the country's average temperatures by 2.24°C between 1940 and 2015, with the last decade being the warmest of the past 76 years.

  24. As the United States Rejoins the Paris Climate Accord and Boldly Confronts Climate Change Crisis- Forget Not the Youth

    - Inter Press Service

    URBANA, Illinois, Jan 21 (IPS) - On the first day, hours after inauguration of the new Biden-Harris administrationPresident Biden signed an Executive Order-rejoining the United States in the Paris Climate Accord.

  25. Renewable Energy Transition Key to Addressing Climate Change Challenge

    - Inter Press Service

    BONN, Germany, Jan 13 (IPS) - 2021 is going to be critical, not only for curbing the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic, but also for meeting the climate challenge.

    But as Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) was clear to point out, the climate challenge is essentially an energy challenge. And as large polluters continue to commit to targets of net zero emissions by 2050, the world could -- in theory -- potentially address the climate challenge.

  26. Climate Action for Human Rights

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW CALEDONIA, Dec 09 (IPS) - Climate change and human rights are two key issues in international development and their interaction is increasingly in need of focus at national, regional and international levels.

    In the Pacific, where the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories are on the front line of both climate ambition and the ongoing effects of the climate crisis, climate change is recognised as the region’s single greatest threat.

  27. Keeping Climate Ambition Alive: Challenges Remain but Signs of Progress Abound

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    WASHINGTON DC, Dec 03 (IPS) - For those of us in the international climate action community, 2020 isn’t ending the way we expected when we rang in the new year.

    Even before 2020 dawned, countries were hard at work planning for their first updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), in line with the Paris Agreement’s five-year NDC revision cycle.

    NDCs are official statements, prepared by countries themselves, outlining the commitments they are making to reduce national emissions and adapt to climate change’s impacts. They are at the heart of putting the Paris Agreement into practice and pursuing action on a global scale.

  28. Vietnam and Cambodia: Leveraging Support to Enhance Climate Ambition

    - Inter Press Service

    WASHINGTON DC, Nov 19 (IPS) - The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every facet of our lives and delayed what was slated to be a landmark Conference of the Parties (COP26). This pivotal year marks the first due date for countries to submit revised national climate plans per the five-year cycle required by the Paris Agreement.

    Remarkably, countries are still moving forward with renewed urgency. And many countries are integrating green recovery into their COVID-19 responses, further contributing to climate action. While many countries have positive stories to tell, both of our nations, Vietnam and Cambodia, are sterling examples of nations taking strong, decisive action, particularly with support through the NDC Partnership. Just last month, the people of Vietnam submitted their updated national climate plan and, in short order, the people of Cambodia will do likewise.

  29. Driving Climate Change from the Top in the Dominican Republic

    - Inter Press Service

    SANTO DOMINGO, Nov 02 (IPS) - When President Luis Abinader arrived at his inauguration in an electrically driven car as a symbolic gesture of his Government's intentions to make sustainable development one of its main objectives – he signalled the start of addressing climate change commitments in the country.

  30. Working animals’ Role in SDGs and Addressing Climate Change, Pandemic Crises

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Oct 14 (IPS) - As we prepare to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), it is time to recognise the role of working animals in livelihood systems, addressing climate change and in human health, which has been overlooked for too long. The Working Animal Alliance seeks to change this. 

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  • by Anup Shah
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