Flabby end to COP19 UNFCCC Warsaw climate talks

Areas most vulnerable to climate changeIn mid-September, Science Daily published this analysis by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, and Stanford University of areas of the world most and least vulnerable to climate change.

The first concluding statement from the news agencies has come out of Warsaw about this year’s 19th conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. And it isn’t especially nice.

UNFCCC talks intended to pave the way for a larger agreement to be ratified in Paris at the 2015 Conference of Parties apparently ended early Saturday morning with little significant fruit. As at many of the previous international conclaves, delegates from 190+ nations managed to agree on something, but the something wasn’t exactly what people desired or expected.

Nations agreed to prepare “contributions” for a larger agreement to be ratified in Paris in the 2015 meeting of the UNFCCC. The original term used was “commitments,” but reportedly the developed countries could not agree to it with China and India–thus individual nations are less committed to specific emissions targets than they would have been with a firmer agreement.

The resolution weakens the firmer pledge adopted at the previous conference at Doha that would add $100 billion in climate financing to developing countries by 2020.
Oxfam indicates this year’s climate aid at only $7.6-16.3 billion so far this year.

The conference did have a few signature agreements. Most notable among them were the following:

REDD+, an extensive and financially strong effort to rein in the current degradation of forests and rising deforestation. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions due to destructive forest practices such as clearing in the Amazon basin. So far, the U.S., Norway, and the U.K. have backed REDD+ with pledges of $280 million.

“Governments have shown their firm commitment to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Warsaw. They have delivered a set of decisions that will make a significant impact in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries and catalyze actions in this critical area of addressing climate change,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC.

A “loss and damage” mechanism (weaker than hoped for) that will aid nations threatened by sea level rise–especially the world’s island states–and other climate impacts occurring now and expected to worsen soon. The most notable of these is extreme weather, such as the typhoon that devasted the Philippines just as the talks began.

Cooperation among nations, commerce, and individuals under the aegis of the UNFCCC and the Global e-Sustainability Initiative on information and communications technology that promotes adaptation and mitigation measures for climate change.

The conference notably included sponsorship from corporate industrial polluters, including petroleum companies; time set aside for corporate participation; a concurrent international coal conference also held in Warsaw; a walkout by 132 countries (the G77 and China bloc) during discussion on loss and damage; and a walkout by Civil Society organizations such as 350.org, WWF, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth.

About the Author

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She’s worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm, writes two top-level blogs on Examiner.com, ranked #2 on ONPP’s 2011 Top 50 blogs on Women’s Health, and attributes her modest success to an “indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity.”