Climate Change Begins and Ends the Year

As 2013 draws to a close we return to climate change, the topic which started our year.

Our first post of 2013, Draft US National Climate Assessment makes clear link between climate change and extreme weather noted the NCA’s conclusion that climate change is on course to turn the country into a hotter, drier, and more disaster-prone place.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw ended on Saturday, November 23, 2013.

Countries decided to initiate or intensify domestic preparation for their intended national contributions towards an agreement to be made in Paris in 2015, 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.

Although the final press release boasted that the Conference was “keeping governments on a track towards a universal climate agreement in Paris in 2015” it is difficult to view this as anything other than glacially slow progress towards a “do what you want”  rather than a “do what is needed” agreement on climate change.

That may be the realpolitik of international agreements but it falls short of the response that the NCA’s conclusions would seem to demand.

However the Conference was able to make progress on a number of more detailed issues. Highlights include:

Deforestation

  • The Conference reached agreements 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
  • The Warsaw Framework for REDD+ is backed by pledges of 280 million dollars financing from the US, Norway and the UK

Developing and Poorer Countries

  • The Conference  agreed 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” will begin next year
  • 48 of the poorest countries of the world finalized a comprehensive set of plans to deal with the inevitable impacts of climate change. With these plans, the countries can better assess the immediate impacts of climate change and what they need in the way of support to become more resilient
  • Governments completed work on the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) so that it can immediately respond to requests from developing countries for advice and assistance on the transfer of technology. The CTCN is open for business and is encouraging developing countries to set up focal points to accelerate the transfer of technology
  • Norway, the UK, EU, US, Republic of Korea, Japan, Sweden, Germany and Finland announced forthcoming contributions of public climate finance to support developing nation action

Other Measures

  • Countries  resolved to close the pre-2020 ambition gap by intensifying technical work and more frequent engagement of Ministers.
  • The Green Climate Fund Board is to commence its initial resource mobilization process as soon as possible. Developed countries were asked for ambitious, timely contributions by COP 20, in December, next year, to enable an effective operationalization
  • Developed countries, including Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland have  paid or pledged over 100 million dollars to add to the Adaptation Fund, which has now started to fund national projects

2014 New York Summit and next UNFCCC meeting

In Warsaw, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reiterated his invitation to all governments, and leaders from finance, business, local government and civil society, to a climate summit in New York on 23 September 2014. This will be a solutions summit, complementing the UNFCCC negotiations. “I ask all who come to bring bold and new announcements and action. By early 2015, we need those promises to add up to enough real action to keep us below the internationally agreed two degree temperature rise,” he said.

The next UNFCCC meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform is to take place in Bonn from 10 to 14, March, 2014.

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