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. Climate change heightens threats of violence against women and girls

    - UN News

    Climate change and environmental degradation are escalating the risk and prevalence of violence against women and girls across the world, a UN-appointed independent human rights expert warned on Wednesday.

  2. UN chief: Countries bound for COP27 must make climate action ‘the top global priority’

    - UN News

    As government representatives begin the finalize the agenda for the COP27 climate change conference in Egypt next month, for pre-COP planning in the Democratic Republic of the Congo capital, Kinshasa, Secretary-General António Guterres told journalists in New York that the work ahead is “as immense as the climate impacts we are seeing around the world”.

  3. Five ways media and journalists can support climate action while tackling misinformation

    - UN News

    It’s a fact: media shapes the public discourse about climate change and how to respond to it. Even the UN’s own Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC) warned clearly of this for the first time in the latest of its landmark series of reports.

  4. Climate Action Plans Could Help Address Injustice, Inequity in African Cities

    - Inter Press Service

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Sep 29 (IPS) - Equity and justice feature prominently in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 6th (IPCC) Assessment Report Working Group IIpublished in 2022. The report focuses on the impacts of climate change, as well as vulnerability and adaptation.

  5. We Must Ensure That Climate Funding Reaches the Guardians of the Forests

    - Inter Press Service

    WASHINGTON DC, Sep 27 (IPS) - US $270 million may sound like a lot of money, especially for just one year. But it is only a small fraction—less than one percent—of all global funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation. This small fraction, however, is the annual amount that was invested in the tenure and forest management of Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPs and LCs) over the past decade.

  6. Egypt’s Foreign Minister calls for improved climate commitments at COP27

    - UN News

    Egypt, which is hosting the 2022 UN Climate Conference this November, is calling on the international community to act on climate pledges made to developing countries, the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, declared on Saturday.

  7. Australia: Groundbreaking decision creates pathway for climate justice on Torres Strait Islands

    - UN News

    A story from UN News

    The UN Human Rights Committee found on Friday that Australia’s failure to adequately protect indigenous Torres Islanders against climate change impacts, has violated their rights to enjoy their culture, free from “arbitrary interference” with their private life, family and home.

  8. Demark rallies wealthy nations to back ‘climate solidarity’, boost financing for hard-hit poor countries

    - UN News

    Collectively, “we must address...the fundamental imbalances in the world we share,” Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on Thursday, calling for global “climate solidarity” to support vulnerable countries that have suffered “loss and damage” from climate change.

  9. 1.5 degree climate pledge ‘on life support’, Guterres tells leaders during frank exchanges

    - UN News

    During a private meeting of Heads of State and Government, held on Wednesday at UN Headquarters in New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for more action and leadership to tackle the climate crisis, warning that efforts to keep the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels is “on life support”.

  10. Climate Change Crisis Nonacceptance

    - Inter Press Service

    PORTLAND, USA, Sep 19 (IPS) - Many people around the world, especially those among the political far-right, do not accept the climate change crisis. Over the years their thinking, behavior, and policies dismissing climate change have largely continued and impaired global efforts to address global warming and environmental degradation.

  11. Climate change impacts ‘heading into uncharted territory’, warns UN chief

    - UN News

    “Climate science is clear: we are heading in the wrong direction”, declares a major, multi-agency UN climate science report released on Tuesday, with a focus on increasing fossil fuel emissions and rising greenhouse gases, now at a record high, which risk thwarting plans to reduce global temperatures and avoid climate catastrophe.

  12. UN chief sees ‘great heights’ of human endurance and heroism amid ‘climate carnage’ in Pakistan

    - UN News

    Secretary-General António Guterres on Saturday reiterated that the needs in flood-ravaged Pakistan are enormous and called for massive and urgent financial support, as he wrapped up a two-day trip aimed at raising awareness of the climate-driven disaster with flights over some of the hardest hit areas. 

  13. In flood-hit Pakistan, Guterres appeals for ‘massive’ global support, tougher action on climate change

    - UN News

    UN Secretary-General António Guterres arrived in Pakistan on Friday to show solidarity with the people of the country following the loss of life and destruction caused by this year’s devastating floods. He appealed for massive international support to tackle this “climate catastrophe”.

  14. Climate Collapse Is Not Inevitable But ‘Great Leap’ Needed

    - Inter Press Service

    ROME, Sep 08 (IPS) - In 1972 the Club of Rome alerted the world to the harm human economic systems were doing to the health of our planet in its seminal, best-selling report, The Limits to Growth. With the devastating impacts of the climate crisis hitting home harder than ever, especially in the Global South, that warning about the dangers of exponential economic growth has been fully vindicated.

  15. Pakistans Climate Catastrophe: Lessons for the World

    - Inter Press Service

    HAMILTON, Canada, Sep 06 (IPS) - Monsoon flooding has occurred often in Pakistan but never to the catastrophic extent presently happening.

    A distinguishing feature of this disaster is that no one blames the flooding’s unprecedented intensity and destructiveness on anything but climate heating. The clear link between the warming atmosphere and the frequency and duration of extreme weather events of this scale should not be lost on the rest of the world.

  16. Egypt prepares for flagship UN climate conference, in a year of unprecedented global weather shocks

    - UN News

    Regional authorities in Egypt, the host country of the 2022 UN climate conference (COP27), are ramping up initiatives designed to improve the country’s environmental credentials, and speed up its transition to a low carbon economy. The event will begin on 4 November, in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh.

  17. Latin America Looks to COP27: ‘The Time to See Ourselves Only as Climate Victims is Over’

    - Inter Press Service

    MÉXICO, Aug 31 (IPS) - Latin America is already one of the world’s regions hit hardest by the impacts of climate change. Extreme weather events such as droughts, heatwaves, tropical cyclones and floods have caused scores of deaths and severe damage to crop production and infrastructure, as underlined in a recent regional report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

  18. Tapping into the Power of Young People for Climate Action

    - Inter Press Service

    Aug 18 (IPS) - Today, our world is 1.1°C warmer than it was in the pre-industrial era, and failure to act urgently could possibly result in increases of 1.5°C-2°C between 2026 and 2042. Climate change poses a serious risk to the fundamental rights of people of every age.

  19. After the storm: what an environmental tragedy can teach us about climate resilience and ecosystem restoration

    - UN News

    A tiny Caribbean Island known as 'the flower of the ocean' was decimated by Hurricane Iota in 2020. Although the loss of human life was minimal, the impact on precious ecosystems deeply changed the perspective of its inhabitants. Two years later, they’re still working to restore their environmental treasures and preparing for whatever curveballs climate change might throw at them next.

  20. Climate Change Conclusion: Time for Bold Action

    - Inter Press Service

    PORTLAND, USA, Aug 10 (IPS) - With climate change bringing about increasing numbers of human deaths and untold sufferingand rising economic, social, and environmental consequences worldwide, it’s time for governments to take bold action to address the climate change emergency.

  21. American west faces water and power shortages due to climate crisis: UN environment agency

    - UN News

    Two of the largest reservoirs in the United States are at dangerously low levels due to the climate crisis and overconsumption of water, which could affect water and electricity supply for millions in six western states and Mexico, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned on Tuesday. 

  22. Climate Change is Putting Women & Girls in Malawi at Greater Risk of Sexual Violence

    - Inter Press Service

    LONDON, Aug 01 (IPS) - It is often those least responsible for causing climate change that suffer the most from the impacts. And such is the case with women and girls in Malawi - one of the world’s poorest and lowest carbon-emitting countries but ranked fifth in the Global Climate Index 2021 list of nations worst affected by climate-related extreme weather.

  23. Landmark guidelines aim to protect children uprooted by climate change

    - UN News

    New UN-backed guidelines issued on Monday aim to protect, include and empower children forced to flee their homes due to the climate crisis, marking the first-ever global effort to address this increasingly major concern. 

  24. Record 40°C UK temperatures linked to climate change: WMO

    - UN News

    The chances of seeing unprecedented temperatures of 40 degree Celsius (40°C) or more in the UK could be up to 10 times more likely in the current climate than under a “natural climate unaffected by human influence,” the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) declared on Monday.

  25. The Caribbean is ‘ground zero’ for the global climate emergency: Guterres

    - UN News

    The UN Secretary-General’s final day in Suriname began on a small plane and ended at a podium. A 90-minute flyover from Paramaribo into the Central Suriname Nature Reserve revealed to António Guterres the astounding beauty of the Amazon but also spotlighted the threats the rainforest is facing from mining and logging activities, and climate change. 

  26. US Supreme Court ruling on environmental protection ‘a setback in our fight against climate change’

    - UN News

    The ruling by the United States Supreme Court against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday, is “a setback in our fight against climate change” said the UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.

  27. New UN financing initiative goes live to power climate action

    - UN News

    A new UN-led financing tool to strengthen weather and climate forecasting, improve life-saving early warning systems, safeguard jobs, and underpin climate adaptation for long-term resilience, officially opened for business on Thursday.

  28. Climate Hypocrisy Ensures Global Warming

    - Inter Press Service

    SYDNEY and KUALA LUMPUR, Jun 28 (IPS) - Rich country governments claim the high moral ground on climate action. But many deny their far greater responsibility for both historic and contemporary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, once acknowledged by the Kyoto Protocol.

  29. Put women’s rights ‘front and centre’ of climate policies: Bachelet

    - UN News

    Although climate change threatens everyone, women and girls often suffer its harshest and most violent consequences, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Monday. 

  30. Who Should Be the Next UN Climate Change Head?

    - Inter Press Service

    NEW YORK, Jun 20 (IPS) - Patricia Espinosa’s six years as Executive Secretary of the UN’s climate change secretariat ends on July 15th. During her time in charge, she has led efforts to operationalize the 2015 Paris Agreement and inject greater urgency into the diplomatic process. Although progress has been difficult, COP26 in Glasgow added some momentum and arguably brought the UN process to the start of its next stage: implementation.

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  • by Anup Shah
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