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. Sink or swim: Can island states survive the climate crisis?

    - UN News

    Small island nations across the world are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis, and their problems have been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely affected their economies, and their capacity to protect themselves from possible extinction. We take a look at some of the many challenges they face, and how they could be overcome.

  2. UN climate science talks open amid heatwaves, floods and drought

    - UN News

    Negotiations began on Monday to approve a UN science report which will anchor high level summits later this year, charged with boosting climate action worldwide.

  3. Confronting a Worsening Climate

    - Inter Press Service

    URBANA, Illinois, Jul 21 (IPS) - Across the United States, the last few months have brought along many climate-linked disasters. From surging wildfires in Hawaii to record-breaking Pacific Northwest heat waves to drought across the western states. The southwestern states also have seen heavy rains that resulted in flash flooding events.

  4. Deadly flooding, heatwaves in Europe, highlight urgency of climate action

    - UN News

    Heavy rainfall that has triggered deadly and catastrophic flooding in several western European countries, is just the latest indicator that all nations need to do more to hold back climate change-induced disasters, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Friday.

  5. EU urged to consider impact of new climate mechanism on developing countries

    - UN News

    Although a new European Union (EU) climate initiative unveiled on Wednesday could change global trade patterns to favour countries where production is relatively carbon efficient, its value in mitigating climate change will likely be limited, the UN trade and development agency, UNCTAD, has warned. 

  6. At the UN, Climate Change & Security Must Be Tackled Together

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jul 13 (IPS) - Could the next wars be triggered by climate change?

    Until recently, the question might have seemed like science fiction, but now it is very real. Ethiopia and Egypt are locked in an upward spiral of tensions over the Nile, as a combination of dams and shifting weather patterns pose existential risks to both countries.

  7. Conflict, climate change, COVID, forces more people into hunger

    - UN News

    Global hunger levels have skyrocketed because of conflict, climate change and the economic impact of COVID-19; and one in five children around the world is stunted, UN agencies warned on Monday. 

  8. UN chief urges G20 finance chiefs to support global COVID vaccine plan, climate finance

    - UN News

    UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday urged the world’s largest economies to spearhead a global COVID-19 vaccination plan, expand debt relief to developing countries battered by the pandemic, and step up funding for climate action. 

  9. Time running out for countries on climate crisis front line

    - UN News

    The world’s running out of time to limit global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius, a matter of life or death for climate vulnerable countries on the front line of the crisis, the UN Secretary General reiterated on Thursday.

  10. Threat of Blackouts in Brazil Highlights Climate Crisis

    - Inter Press Service

    RÍO DE JANEIRO, Jul 05 (IPS) - Twenty years after the blackout that prompted nine months of rationing to keep the power grid from collapsing, Brazil may see a repeat of the traumatic situation, this time with a more obvious climate change undertone.

  11. Climate Change: Your Choices Matter

    - Inter Press Service

    A story from Inter Press Service, an international news agency

    TORONTO, Canada, Jun 29 (IPS) - Life is a series of choices. And choices have consequences. When it comes to climate change, some choices have bigger consequences than others, and there's a startling takeaway: your next "big" decision will play a meaningful role in our collective ability to reach Net-Zero by 2050.

  12. Why Pacific Island Nations, like the Federated States of Micronesia, need Climate Change Finance for Food Security Now

    - Inter Press Service

    SYDNEY, Australia, Jun 28 (IPS) - Robby Nena is one of the many farmers and fishermen on the frontline of climate change in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), where coastal flooding and erosion, variable and heavy rainfall, increased temperature, droughts and other extreme weather events are becoming all too common.

  13. The trillion dollar climate finance challenge (and opportunity)

    - UN News

    It’s overwhelmingly accepted that climate change is a very significant threat to humanity and while there are countless solutions to tackling what has been described by the UN as the “existential threat” of our times, it is still not fully clear how these solutions will be paid for. 

  14. On climate change frontline, indigenous provide pointers to save planet

    - UN News

    Indigenous people living on the frontline of climate change could offer potentially ground-breaking insight into biodiversity protection and sustainability, but they urgently need help to withstand a growing number of threats to their way of life, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said on Friday. 

  15. Small businesses unprepared for pandemic-sized climate shock ‘every decade’

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    Small businesses which make up more than half of the global workforce were 2.5 times more likely to go under than larger firms in the first months of COVID-19, the International Trade Centre (ITC) said on Wednesday, warning that the impact of climate change could cause pandemic-scale disruption “every decade”.

  16. Sustainability solution or climate calamity? The dangers and promise of cryptocurrency technology

    - UN News

    The negative environmental impact of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin has been widely covered in the press in recent weeks and months, and their volatility has also been flagged as a cause for concern. Nevertheless, the UN believes that blockchain, the technology lying behind these online currencies, could be of great benefit to those fighting the climate crisis, and help bring about a more sustainable global economy.

  17. To Reverse Food Insecurity Build a Climate Resilient Agricultural Sector

    - Inter Press Service

    URBANA, Illinois, Jun 16 (IPS) - The number of people facing acute food insecurity has hit a five-year high, according to a recently released annual report by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) - an international alliance of the United Nations, the European Union, governmental and non-governmental agencies working to tackle food crises. In addition, the report noted that 28 million people were one step away from starvation. This was attributed to conflict, economic shocks due to COVID-19 and climate change associated weather events.

  18. Central Sahel: Ground Zero in Tackling Climate Change Through Education

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jun 16 (IPS) - The climate crisis is amplifying the effects of instability and violence in the world’s poorest countries. Nowhere is this more visible than in Africa’s Central Sahel region, where increasing temperature, floods, droughts and other climate change-induced disasters are triggering conflicts, displacement, and pushing girls and boys into the shadows.

  19. Why Mixed Messages Could Turn Boris Johnsons Glasgow Climate Summit Dream into a Nightmare

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jun 11 (IPS) - How are preparations for the Glasgow Climate Summit in November proceeding? Currently, we are more than halfway through three weeks of virtual preparatory negotiations taking place in June. These online talks are challenging in their own right, just as many had feared  (see: ‘Should the 2021 Climate Summit in Glasgow Still Take Place?’). 

  20. UN Scientists: Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss. Two Parts. One Problem.

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jun 11 (IPS) - Earth is in the throes of multiple environmental crises, with climate change and the loss of biodiversity the most pressing.

    The urgency to confront the two challenges has been marked by policies that tackle the issues separately.

    Now, a report by a team of scientists has warned that success on either front is hinged on a combined approach to the dual crises.

  21. UN-backed report finds no G7-based stock exchange indices align with Paris climate goals

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    New research co-authored by the UN Global Compact revealed on Thursday that none of the G7 leading industrial nations’ main stock indices are aligned with global emissions targets set out in the Paris Agreement, thwarting efforts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. 

  22. From Climate Change to Covid, Are We Ready to Deal with Disasters?

    - Inter Press Service

    PARIS, Jun 10 (IPS) - In the last 20 years, disasters affected over 4 billion people. At global level we witness on average one sweeping disaster a day, the majority of which are floods and storms. From the Covid-19 pandemic to climate change, calamities are taking new shapes and sizes, infiltrating every dimension of society. From the emotional to the political, how do we deal with disasters? How can we create a whole-of-society approach to disaster risk reduction?

  23. UNs Battle Against Climate Hazards Undermined by a Devastating Pandemic

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Jun 04 (IPS) - The United Nations has been in the forefront of an ongoing battle against the growing hazards of climate change, including the destruction of different species of plants and animals, the danger of rising sea-levels threatening the very existence of small island developing states (SIDS), and the risks of oceans reaching record temperatures endangering aquatic resources.

  24. Invasive pest spread another fallout from climate change, UN-backed study finds

    - UN News

    Climate change is making pests which ravage important agricultural crops even more destructive, heightening threats to global food security and the environment, a UN-backed study published on Wednesday has found. 

  25. Bridging the Gaps Between Climate Action & Biodiversity Preservation

    - Inter Press Service

    KATHMANDU, Nepal, Jun 02 (IPS) - With the climate negotiations getting more and more intense in the light of ensuring meaningful achievements in the upcoming COP- 26 summit in Edinburgh, an event that is key to move forward the pathway towards a net zero future started in Paris, this year World Environment Day on June 5 assumes an even more emblematic meaning.

  26. UN chief calls for a global partnership to address COVID, climate change and achieve SDG’s

    - UN News

    Speaking in a key international partnerships summit, António Guterres said that if governments embrace together the goals of phasing out coal, enhancing climate commitments, and investing in the Global Goals, there is an opportunity to rise to 'the biggest challenge of our lives'.

  27. Why Stakeholder Coalitions Could Be Key to the Glasgow Climate Summits Success

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, May 27 (IPS) - The past few weeks brought a burst of optimism on the climate front. It began on April 18 with the US-China announcement on climate cooperation. This was followed in quick succession by the EU Parliament’s vote to cut emissions 55% by 2030, the UK’s promise of a 78% cut by 2035, Japan nearly doubling their commitment from 26% to 46% based on 2013 levels and US President Biden’s pledge of a 50-52% reduction, also by 2030 (compared with 2005 levels).

  28. Boost investments in nature to combat climate, biodiversity and land degradation crises

    - UN News

    Annual investments in nature-based solutions will have to triple by 2030, and increase four-fold by 2050, if the world is to successfully tackle the triple threat of climate, biodiversity and land degradation crises, according to a new UN-backed study published on Thursday. 

  29. A Growing Shift in the Narrative about Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    UNITED NATIONS, Feb 25 2021 (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.

  30. The Global Insecurity of Climate Change

    - Inter Press Service

    BONN, Germany, May 21 (IPS) - For Sudanese youth, climate change is synonymous with insecurity.

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  • by Anup Shah
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