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Oxfam protest in Warsaw

Oxfam International protest in Warsaw

In Warsaw last week, the 19th Conference of the Parties had some distinctly farcical moments. Poland’s Environment Minister was sacked partway through, many prominent NGOs simply walked out in protest at the lack of progress, and a coal conference next door heaped embarrassment on Poland.

The conference began with news of a record-breaking asian typhoon; was split in two with fallout from an asian tsunami; and ended with the asian powerhouses of China and India bound only with “Contributions” to mitigate climate change, not commitments.

However, some agreements were struck that shouldn’t be immediately dismissed. The key decisions were:

  • A timetable of further meetings was agreed, in an attempt to come up with some detail to any agreement before Paris COP 21 in December 2015:

    • 10th-14th March 2014: the COP 19 negotiations were officially suspended, so can immediately restart at the UNFCCC headquarters in Bonn
    • June 2014: subsidiary bodies meetings in Bonn
    • 23rd September 2014: Ban-ki-moon’s summit of world leaders at the UN HQ in New York
    • October 2014: TBC extra talks, if necessary, pre-Lima
    • December 2014: COP 20 in Lima, Peru
    • First quarter 2015: Carbon reduction targets announced
  • Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Land Degradation (REDD) New rules for developing nations to measure, report and verify existing forest cover and measure progress, making REDD a functioning mechanism. http://www.ecosystemmarketplace.com/pages/dynamic/article.page.php?page_id=10070&section=news_articles&eod=1 The U.S., Norway and the U.K. announced how a previously pledged $280 million Initiative for Sustainable Forest Landscapes (BioC ISFL) would be spent, beginning with $50 million for Ethiopia’s Oromia state.

  • A loss-and-damage mechanism was agreed in principle, but no details, decisions, or funding will be taken until 2016.

    • Global financial costs from increasing extreme weather have risen from $50bn a year in the 1980s to $200bn today, and this mechanism, in principle, will provide finance for the impacts of events that have been clearly affected by climate change (but not adaptation)
  • Pre-2020 Adaptation Financing Developing countries unsuccessfully pushed for on disbursement of the $100 billion a year (pledged at Copenhagen by developed nations) before 2020, whilst a resolution on theGreen Climate Fund demanded it be ready to receive funds by COP-20

  • Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)

    • An agreement to announce emission reduction targets by the first quarter of 2015, in preparation for Paris 2015, but with “Commitments” from Developed countries and “Contributions” from Developing countries. This division worries many, given such a large chunk of emissions now come from Developing countries like China and India, buttheir argument is for balance, in that restrictions should not be placed on emissions in the Developing world until they have reached a level of wellbeing similar to the Developed.
    • No decision on the legal nature of any agreement; will it be voluntary pledges, or will it have legal weight?
    • Aim for a “reduction of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by between 25 percent and 40 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030” as prescribed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was removed from the final text. This underlines the significant and growing gap between pledges and the emissions reductions required to avoid ‘dangerous’ climate change.
  • Voluntary cancellation of offsets has been suggested: Point 5c invites Parties to “promote the voluntary cancellation of certified emission reductions (CERs), without double counting, as a means of closing the pre-2020 ambition gap”, and some countries have gone ahead with cancellation (including £50 million from the UK) which should boost the flagging offset market, and so provide new finance for clean energy projects in the developing world.More information here.