Warsaw Climate Change Conference: Most Progress Made on Help Against Impact of Climate Change and Protection of Forests

On Saturday the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw (COP 19) ended. On the road to a legally binding climate protection agreement to be concluded by 2015 at the conference in Paris to effective limit global warming to two degrees Celsius, the most progress was made with regard to an international mechanism to provide most vulnerable populations against loss and damage by climate change and concerning forest protection. Besides, the participating countries agreed to intensify national preparatory efforts for the 2015 agreement and on aspects of mobilising finance to support developing countries.

The main results according to the COP 19 and United Nations press releases are as follows:

1. Roadmap towards a Climate Change Agreement in 2015

In the context of 2015, countries decided to initiate or intensify domestic preparation for their intended national contributions towards that agreement, which will come into force from 2020. Parties ready to do this will submit clear and transparent plans well in advance of COP 21, in Paris, and by the first quarter of 2015.

Countries also resolved to close the pre-2020 ambition gap by intensifying technical work, including through workshops, and increased opportunities for information sharing. Work will also be intensified through the more frequent engagement of Ministers by means of Ministerial Dialogues.

2. Financing of Climate Change Prevention and Adaptation

Governments also want to provide more clarity on mobilising finance to support developing country actions to curb emissions and adapt to climate change. This includes requesting developed countries to prepare biennial submissions on their updated strategies and approaches for scaling up finance between 2014 and 2020, complemented by a decision to hold a similar schedule of high-level ministerial dialogues on finance.

The Warsaw meeting also resulted in concrete announcements of forthcoming contributions of public climate finance to support developing nation action, including from Norway, the UK, EU, US, Republic of Korea, Japan, Sweden, Germany and Finland. Germany set a clear signal committing itself to contribute roughly 40 million dollars, the Federal Ministry for the Environment said.

The Green Climate Fund Board is to commence its initial resource mobilisation process as soon as possible and developed countries were asked for ambitious, timely contributions by COP 20, in December, next year, to enable an effective operationalization.

3. Warsaw Mechanism

The conference also decided to establish an international mechanism to provide most vulnerable populations with better protection against loss and damage caused by extreme weather events and slow onset events such as rising sea levels. Detailed work on the so-called “Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage” shall begin next year.

4. Forest Protection

Important decisions on ways to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and the degradation of forests, which account for around one fifth of all human-generated emissions were taken. The German Minister for the Environment, Peter Altmaier, called them a breakthrough. Emission reductions by developing countries shall be independently verified, his ministry said. Besides, a method for calculating emission reductions was established so that the international REED+ forest protection programme could finally start.

Pledges of 280 million dollars from the US, Norway and the UK were made, the UN said. Minister Altmaier also pledged to contribute 16 million dollars towards the Green Climate Fund.

Whether the agreements are far-reaching enough to put the world on the right trajectory towards the two degrees target, remains to be seen. Recently the International Energy Agency (IEA) presented its World Energy Outlook 2013. In its central scenario, IEA assumes that energy-related CO2 emissions still rise by 20% to 2035.“This leaves the world on a trajectory consistent with a long-term average temperature increase of 3.6°C, far above the internationally agreed 2°C target”, IEA warned.

Source: COP19/CMP9

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