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


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. At UN, Pacific Island leaders sound alarm on climate crisis, call for urgent action

    - UN News

    Leaders from Pacific island nations collectively rang the alarm on the relentless march of climate change, marked by rising sea levels, extreme weather events and coastal erosion, wreaking havoc and threatening the very existence of their homelands.

  2. ‘Humanity has opened the gates to hell’ warns Guterres as climate coalition demands action

    - UN News

    “Horrendous heat is having horrendous effects”, the UN chief declared on Wednesday, as a broad global coalition of “movers and doers” politicians, business and civil society gathered in New York for the first ever Climate Ambition Summit.

  3. ‘No nonsense’ Climate Ambition Summit: What you need to know

    - UN News

    The race to protect the planet is about to accelerate, as world leaders, business giants, and experts gather to attend the Climate Ambition Summit on Wednesday.

  4. Youth Rally for Peace Through Climate Justice at the UN

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Sep 15 (IPS) - “What do we want? Climate justice! When do we want it? Now!” youth chanted in an unusually lively conference at the United Nations Headquarters.

  5. Climate inaction puts lives on the line: WMO

    - UN News

    Insufficient progress towards climate goals is slowing down the global fight against poverty, hunger and deadly diseases, according to a report released on Thursday by the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

  6. The Africa Climate Summit: Anti-Colonial Rhetoric Meets Green Colonialism

    - Inter Press Service

    OAKLAND, California, Sep 13 (IPS) - In the wake of the recent Africa Climate Summit, which convened in Nairobi from September 4-6, 2023, the world’s attention was drawn to the pressing challenges facing the African continent as it grapples with the devastating effects of climate change.

  7. Experts make case for tackling climate and sustainable development together

    - UN News

    A new UN report delivers a strong message to world leaders heading to New York for the General Assembly’s annual high-level week: tackling the climate and sustainable development crises together will help accelerate overall progress on the 2030 Agenda.

  8. Africa Finds Common Ground on Climate as Nairobi Declaration Unveiled

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Sep 07 (IPS) - To cool down a burning planet, Africa’s Head of State and Government at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit unveiled the ‘Nairobi Declaration’ as curtains fell on the inaugural Africa Climate Summit held in Nairobi, September 4-6, 2023, under the theme “Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World.”

  9. May the Race for Climate Justice Leader Begin

    - Inter Press Service

    AMSTERDAM, Sep 07 (IPS) - Super-charging efforts and setting a fresh direction for the next phase of climate policymaking is what’s urgently needed and on offer this month during the 78th UN General Assembly in New York, as mass heat waves, devastating wildfires, fatal floods, and withering droughts continue to wreak havoc across continents.

  10. African Startups Mull Home-Grown Solutions to Combat Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Sep 06 (IPS) - A group of young African startups made their presence known at the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, hoping to play a big role in promoting home-grown climate-oriented solutions.

  11. 'Climate breakdown' alert as air quality dips during heatwaves: UN chief

    - UN News

    Amplified by wildfires and desert dust fanned by climate change, more frequent heatwaves are leading to a sharp drop in air quality and human health, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in a new report on Wednesday.

  12. Toothless Global Financial Architecture Fuelling Africas Climate Crisis

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Sep 05 (IPS) - Africa needs approximately USD 579.2 billion in adaptation finance over the period 2020 to 2030, and yet the current adaptation flows are five to 10 times below estimated needs.  As thousands convene in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, for the Africa Climate Summit, the first time the African Union has summoned its leaders to solely discuss climate change under the theme ‘Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World’, the backdrop is a country on the frontlines of a climate crisis.

  13. Africa's Potential: Leading Food System Transformation and Climate Resilience

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 05 (IPS) - When a continent with 65% of the world’s arable land struggles to feed its 1.4 billion people, we know something is wrong. The African and global food systems need a rethink. The urgent and pressing need to address a more productive, transparent, equitable food system, poverty and the far-reaching effects of climate change requires us to forge alliances among diverse stakeholders and sectors.

  14. 'I am because you are' - Climate Justice Through the Spirit of Ubuntu

    - Inter Press Service

    PORT LOUIS, Sep 04 (IPS) - The Africa Climate Summit 2023 is expected to start with renewed hope. In its 60+ years of post-independence history, Africa has contributed around 3% of Green House Emissions, accounts for approximately 2.6% of global trade, and less than 3% of the world’s GDP in 2021.

  15. Philippines: Indigenous knowledge takes on climate crisis

    - UN News

    In the mountainous province of Bukidnon in the southern Philippines, local indigenous groups are being forced to adapt to the alarming impacts of climate change. With UN support, communities are making significant strides, using centuries-old knowledge to forge sustainable solutions.

  16. The Case for Climate Justice

    - Inter Press Service

    JOHANNESBURG, Sep 01 (IPS) - If you’ve never seen a landslide before, it’s a terrifying force of nature. Those who have found themselves in the thick of this phenomenon say the earth beneath your feet suddenly begins to give way, the ground cracks open, and large masses of soil, rocks, and debris come crashing down. It is as if the very ground you stand on is rebelling against the changing climate and its impact on the delicate balance of the environment.

  17. Bangladesh's Battle Against Climate Change: A Nation at Risk

    - Inter Press Service

    DHAKA, Sep 01 (IPS) - Bangladesh faces one of its most significant challenges ever — climate change. Rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and changing rainfall patterns are already profoundly impacting this nation.Bangladesh, a picturesque land of rivers, lush green landscapes, and a vibrant cultural heritage, faces one of its most significant challenges ever — climate change.

  18. Africa Climate Summit: a Critical Opportunity for Collective Action on Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    NAIROBI, Sep 01 (IPS) - As an African, I have seen first-hand the devastating effects of climate change. I have met communities displaced by floods in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. I have spoken to farmers from Northern Kenya who have lost their crops to drought. These experiences have made me acutely aware of how urgent it is to address the climate crisis.

  19. African children bearing the brunt of climate change impacts

    - UN News

    Children in Africa are among the most at risk from climate change impacts but are being woefully deprived of the financing necessary to help them adapt, survive and respond to the crisis, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a new report on Friday.

  20. UN expert urges international support for The Bahamas amid climate crisis

    - UN News

    A UN-appointed human rights expert on Friday urged the international community to increase assistance to The Bahamas and other small island States that face elevated threats from natural disasters resulting from climate change.

  21. Climate Justice Delayed, Is Justice Denied

    - Inter Press Service

    BULAWAYO, ZIMBABWE, Aug 31 (IPS) - Climate justice is not just about survival but also about benefit sharing, reducing inequality and enabling a better society that thrives - Yamide Dagnet, Climate Justice Director at Open Society FoundationsThe failure to tackle the climate change crisis is an injustice to the millions who have lost lives and livelihoods through floods, extreme weather, and wildfires, pointing to the urgency of adaptation and mitigation finance, experts say.

  22. Africa Climate Summit: Time for Tangible, Impactful, & Accountable Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    OAKLAND, California, Aug 29 (IPS) - African leaders, public officials, and private-sector executives will converge in Nairobi, September 4-6, at the Africa Climate Summit (ACS) – coinciding with the UN Africa Climate Week (ACW). In recent years, Africa has been the poster child for climate solutions, with carbon credit and offset projects gaining popularity among the public and private sectors alike.

  23. Building Agricultural Resilience in a Changing Climate: Strategies to Safeguard Crop Production Amidst Extreme Weather Events

    - Inter Press Service

    URBANA, Illinois, USA, Aug 18 (IPS) - Across the U.S., and around the world, extremes in weather patterns, from drought to excessive heat to flooding to wildfires to outbreaks of insect pests and disease have become frequent and are predicted to continue to become more intense because of climate change, and the warming of our planet.

  24. World Bank Climate Finance Plan Little Help, Unfair

    - Inter Press Service

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Aug 16 (IPS) - The World Bank plans to use public funds to subsidize private finance, ostensibly to mobilize much more capital to address the climate crisis. But the new plan is likely to be a distraction, not the solution it purports to be. Rich nations have contributed most to the current climate crisis. They are primarily responsible for the historical emissions and greenhouse gas (GHG) accumulation of the last two centuries.

  25. As record warming puts climate targets at risk, young people’s ‘green skills’ may help save the planet

    - UN News

    Young climate advocates are preparing to tell leaders at a UN summit next month that they are out of options: they must deliver now on ambitions climate action that pushes the world faster towards sustainability and empowers younger generations with the ‘green skills’ that will secure our future.

  26. Climate Change Is Making Us Sick, Says WHO Envoy

    - Inter Press Service

    BULAWAYO, Aug 02 (IPS) - Climate change is making us sick. It has become urgent to build resilient health systems to secure humanity’s well-being, says the special envoy for climate change and health of the World Health Organization (WHO).

  27. Climate Litigation Report reveals spike in cases demanding action

    - UN News

    The total number of court cases focused on climate action has more than doubled since 2017 and is growing worldwide, according to a new report published on Thursday by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

  28. New Machine Learning-Based Model Boosting Africa's Preparedness and Response to Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    KIGALI, Jul 20 (IPS) - Scientists have recently unveiled a first-ever weather forecasting model using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning solutions to help vulnerable African countries build resilience to climate impacts.

  29. Climate Justice - Is Litigation a Good Way Forward?

    - Inter Press Service

    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Jul 19 (IPS) - For years, the concept of climate justice has been built on the understanding that countries and communities contributing the least to global warming are disproportionately bearing the impacts of climate change.

  30. Extreme weather highlights need for greater climate action

    - UN News

    Scorching temperatures are engulfing large parts of the Northern hemisphere, while devastating floods triggered by relentless rainfall have disrupted lives and livelihoods, underscoring the urgent need for more climate action, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday.

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  • by Anup Shah
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