Monday, 25 November 2013

CLIMATE-CHANGE: UN Conference's Deal in Warsaw

It was a conference characterized by outbursts of anger, an atmosphere of mistrust, global divisions and a dramatic ending, but the delegates at the UN climate conference managed to reach an agreement over the weekend.
 
There was again -- the mistrust that marred the climate conference in Warsaw. The mistrust between two blocs -- the old industrialized nations of the West on the one side and newly industrialized nations like China, India and Brazil as well as developing economies who want the West to take care of the climate problem on its own and to compensate them for their existing problems. 
 
The wording hindered the most important demand made by developing nations: that poor countries would be given greater aid if they are struck by natural disasters linked to climate change. Scientists believe climate change could make extreme weather events more dangerous. The developing nations demanded a new institution for managing such aid, but the industrialized nations wanted the issue to be placed under an existing framework for countries for adaptation to the effects of climate change. They feared they would be held liable if it were placed in its own category.
 
Representatives of the United States, the European Union and the poorer countries then gathered in the middle of the room and began intense discussions. They finally found a compromise. "Loss and Damage," as the issue is referred to in UN jargon, would be addressed under the existing adjustment provision. But they also agreed that the status of the new Warsaw Mechanism for Loss and Damage would be renegotiated at the 22nd climate conference in 2016. The treaty also states that the losses and damage caused by weather catastrophes go beyond the scope of adaptation. Ultimately, the agreement delays any real decision.
 
Here's an overview of the other important results of the UN climate conference in Warsaw:
 
In 2015 in Paris, a new universal climate agreement is intended to be agreed on that will include concrete goals for curbing CO2 emissions and will also seek to limit the rise of global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius.
 
Starting in 2020, the industrialized countries will provide $100 billion (€74 billion) per year to developing nations to help mitigate the effects of climate change. A working group has been established at the Warsaw conference that is now expected to develop a finance plan.
 
Even before that, six UN funds will support poor countries in tackling climate change. Western states promised in Warsaw to provide larger contributions to the funds, with Germany serving as one of the leading donors. Most of the funds are set to be operational soon.
 
Industrial states want to finance reforestation projects worldwide. In Warsaw it was decided to explore in more detail research on the extent to which planting trees benefits the climate.

In many important questions, however, global divisions prevented agreement. Right up to the end, representatives of developing nations had asked the West to make larger payments even before 2020, calling for $70 billion per year starting in 2016. Industrial nations had already provided $10 billion a year from 2010 to 2012, but there are no clear commitments for the period betwen 2013 and 2019.

The EU representative retorted that it was European money that had enabled several global climate change initiatives such as the green climate fund and the adaptation fund to be established at the Warsaw conference. In addition, Europe had contributed significantly to the so-called "Fund for the Poorest Countries," so far to the tune of $600 million.
These funds were Europe's decisive trick in persuading the poorest countries to leave the bloc of developing nations and come over to its side. The world's 48 poorest countries gave up their opposition to the deal on the table at Warsaw and suddenly voted for the climate compromise. For a short time, the world's division had been overcome.

With the Warsaw deal, the EU and US managed to get developing and emerging countries to also set targets by 2015 for limiting their greenhouse gas emissions. Still, the ambitions have been scaled down: Whereas earlier drafts mention "commitments," now it is only "contributions." China and India strongly opposed more binding wording that had been promoted by France.

By Jennifer Birich
AFP's Blogger

Photo-Credit: AFP-Governments at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw reached deal ...