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2013 SkS News Bulletin #18: Warsaw Climate Talks

Posted on 26 November 2013 by John Hartz

  • As the Warsaw climate talks end, the hard work is just beginning
  • Ban Ki-Moon scolds rich countries backtracking on climate
  • Cities take meaningful climate action as nations lag
  • EU climate chief says UN talks hinge on 2015 deal
  • Principles of global deal agreed on after deadlock over 'contributions'
  • Rich vs poor deadlock broken at UN climate talks
  • South scores 11th-hour win on climate loss and damage
  • Understanding Warsaw: capitalism, climate change and neocolonialism
  • US and China must act on climate change rhetoric, says German minister
  • Warsaw climate talks end with compromise
  • Warsaw climate talks leave much work to do for 2015 deal
  • Warsaw climate talks set 2015 target for plans to curb emissions

As the Warsaw climate talks end, the hard work is just beginning

Weary delegates trudging home from an exhausting and sleep-deprived fortnight of climate change talks in Warsaw may be unwilling to acknowledge it, but the hard work is just beginning. Like schoolchildren after a packed day of lessons, they have been sent back to their national capitals to "do their homework".

By the first quarter of 2015, countries must come forward with their "contributions" to global reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, that will come into force from 2020.

Those contributions – not the stronger "commitments" wanted by the developed countries – will be the centrepiece of any new worldwide agreement on climate change, scheduled to be struck in Paris in late 2015. They could take the form of curbs to the future growth in emissions, in the case of developing countries, and absolute reductions much tougher than those agreed up to 2020, for the developed contingent.

As the Warsaw climate talks end, the hard work is just beginning by Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, Nov 25, 2013

Ban Ki-Moon scolds rich countries backtracking on climate

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon lashed out at rich nations that are watering down commitments to fight global warming, citing the typhoon that devastated the Philippines.

Some developed countries “that are supposed to be taking leadership are now backtracking,” Ban said at UN climate talks in Warsaw today. “That’s quite disappointing. We have to take urgent action.”

The comments were meant to goad envoys from almost 190 nations at the meeting to step up their efforts to cut fossil-fuel emissions blamed for damaging the atmosphere. For the first time since the UN-led discussions started in 1992, richer nations led by JapanCanada and Australia have stepped away from promises to rein in emissions.

Ban Ki-Moon Scolds Rich Countries Backtracking on Climate by Stefan Nicola, Bloomberg News, Nov 19, 2013

Cities take meaningful climate action as nations lag

Canada and every other rich country need to crash their CO2 emissions 10% per year starting in 2014 to have any hopes of ensuring a not-super-dangerous climate for our grandchildren, said Kevin Anderson of Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester.

"We can still do 2C but not the way we're going," Anderson said on the sidelines of the UN climate talks, in Warsaw, Poland.

Anderson wasn't just referring to the lengthy-and-acronym-laden COP 19 process held inside Warsaw's 58,000-seat soccer stadium. It's too late for any normal approaches to emissions reductions. Preventing climate disaster requires a radical measures and our economic system is not up to the task he said.

"Massive amounts of capital needs to be directed towards a low-carbon future straight away."

Cities Take Meaningful Climate Action as Nations Lag by Stpehen Leahy, DeSmog Canada, Stpehen Leahy, Nov 24, 2013

EU climate chief says UN talks hinge on 2015 deal

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — After another U.N.climate conference gave only modest results, European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard says the process needs to provide a "substantial answer" to global warming in two years to remain relevant.

Even if it succeeds, it's worth reconsidering whether the international confabs need to be held every year, and whether the scope of each session should be narrower, Hedegaard told The Associated Press on Sunday.

"Maybe it would be time now to think if there should be themes for the conferences so that not each conference is about everything," she said in a telephone interview.

In two decades, the U.N. talks have failed to provide a cure to the world's fever. Heat-trapping carbon emissions that scientists say are warming the planet are growing each year as most countries still depend on coal and oil to fuel their economies.

EU climate chief says UN talks hinge on 2015 deal by Karl Ritter, AP/SF Gate, Nov 25, 2013

Principles of global deal agreed on after deadlock over 'contributions'

Negotiators from about 195 countries have reached consensus on some of the cornerstones of an ambitious climate pact to combat global warming.

Governments agreed at talks in Poland that a new deal would consist of a patchwork of national contributions to curb emissions that could blur a 20-year-old distinction between the obligations of rich and poor nations.

They are aiming for a new global deal to be signed in Paris in 2015 to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which set targets for developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Principles of global deal agreed on after deadlock over 'contributions', ABC News (Australia), Vov 24, 2013 

Rich vs poor deadlock broken at UN climate talks

WARSAW (Reuters) - Almost 200 nations kept a plan to reach a new U.N. climate pact in 2015 alive on Saturday when rich and poor countries reached a compromise on sharing out the efforts needed to slow global warming.

A two-week negotiation in Warsaw had been due to end on Friday, but was blocked over a timetable for the first U.N. climate accord that would set greenhouse gas emissions requirements for all nations. The pact is due to be agreed in 2015 and come into force after 2020.

Negotiators finally agreed that all countries should work to curb emissions - a process described in the jargon as "intended nationally determined contributions" - as soon as possible and ideally by the first quarter of 2015.

The agreement ended deadlock between rich and poor about sharing out the burden of limiting emissions blamed for causing more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

Rich vs poor deadlock broken at UN climate talks by Alister Doyle and Nina Chestney, Reuters, Nov 23, 2013

South scores 11th-hour win on climate loss and damage

The U.N. climate talks in Warsaw ended in dramatic fashion Saturday evening in what looked like a schoolyard fight with a mob of dark-suited supporters packed around the weary combatants, Todd Stern of the United States and Sai Navoti of Fiji representing G77 nations. 

It took two weeks and 36 straight hours of negotiations to get to this point.

At issue in this classic North versus South battle was the creation of a third pillar of a new climate treaty to be finalised in 2015. Countries of the South, with 80 percent of the world’s people, finally won, creating a loss and damage pillar to go with the mitigation (emissions reduction) and adaptation pillars.

South Scores 11th-Hour Win on Climate Loss and Damage by Stpehen Leahy, Inter Press News (IPS), Nov 24, 2013

Understanding Warsaw: capitalism, climate change and neocolonialism

"The old Imperialism levied tribute; the new Imperialism lends money at interest."

The War of Steel and Gold: A Study of the Armed Peace, Henry Noel Brailsford, 1914

The contradictions of world affairs are shifting into sharp relief in Warsaw. As the denouement of the climate conference approaches, political fissures are appearing that even the most diplomatic and experienced of civil service soothers are unable to paper over. The fractured lives and incendiary event of Typhoon Haiyan have been tossed into the most business-friendly COP yet.

The pain and suffering of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, and the anger of the Filipino delegation, screams for a rebalancing of global priorities for which the rich countries, intent on securing more get-out clauses than there are exits to the Norodowy Stadium, had not bargained. Commenting on Barack Obama's supposedly positive climate action plan, Lucille Sering, secretary of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines, disputed its impact: "Somehow, when they negotiate, they always find some way to excuse themselves from doing anything. ... It's always either they can't do this or they can't do that."

Understanding Warsaw: Capitalism, Climate Change and Neocolonialism, News Analysis by Chris Williams, Truthout, Nov 25, 2013

US and China must act on climate change rhetoric, says German minister

The US and China need to put their rhetoric on climate change into practice, the German environment minister, Peter Altmaier, said on Monday after United Nations climate change negotiations in Warsaw failed to reach agreement in key areas.

Disappointed by the lack of significant breakthroughs, Altmaier demanded concrete action on climate change from bigger industrialised nations ahead of a crunch meeting in Paris in 2015.

US and China must act on climate change rhetoric, says German minister by Josie Le Blond, The Guardian, Nov 25, 2013 

Warsaw climate talks end with compromise

At the end, everything hung on one word. Developing countries wanted to exclude the word "under" from the climate conference's final report.

Countries like the Philippines and Bangladesh did not want to accept that the new international "loss and damage mechanism," created in Warsaw to deal with weather disasters made worse by climate change, would be established "under" an existing framework for countries to adapt to the effects of climate change.

"We must move beyond this word," said the delegate from Fiji, speaking on behalf of all the developing and emerging nations.

Warsaw climate talks end with compromise by Andrea Rönsberg, Deutsche Welle (DW), Nov 24, 2013

Warsaw climate talks leave much work to do for 2015 deal

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - In the wake of the Warsaw climate talks, policy experts and activists agree there is a lot of work still to do if an effective global climate deal is to be reached in 2015.

Most environment and development groups - some of whom last week left the meeting in frustration - criticised backsliding on targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by Japan and potentially Australia, as well as a lack of clarity on how emissions reductions and large-scale climate finance are to be ramped up in the coming years.

Many gave a cautious welcome to the establishment of a new international mechanism to help vulnerable countries cope with losses and damage caused by more extreme weather and slower climate-linked changes such as creeping deserts, rising seas and ocean acidification.

Warsaw climate talks leave much work to do for 2015 deal by Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Nov 25, 2013

Warsaw climate talks set 2015 target for plans to curb emissions

Governments around the world have just over a year in which to set out their targets on curbing greenhouse gas emissions from 2020, after marathon overnight climate change talks in Warsaw produced a partial deal.

Under the agreement, settled in the early hours of Sunday morning after more than 36 hours of non-stop negotiations, countries have until the first quarter of 2015 to publish their plans. This process is seen as essential to achieving a new global deal on emissions at a crunch conference in Paris in late 2015, for which the fortnight-long Warsaw conference was supposed to lay the groundwork.

"Warsaw has set a pathway for governments to work on a draft text of a new universal climate agreement, an essential step to reach a final agreement in Paris, in 2015," said Marcin Korolec, the Polish host of the conference, who was demoted from environment minister to climate envoy during the talks.

Warsaw climate talks set 2015 target for plans to curb emissions by Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, Nov 24, 2013

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Comments 1 to 2:

  1. As usual, the solution is blindingly obvious and painfully simple.

    Adopt Jim Hansen's Climate Change Solution, namely tax and dividend.  This will remove investment from fossil fuels and direct it toward renewables as investors try to avoid a hair cut that would be inevitable if they stuck with their fossil fuel shares.  Long before there was price parity for electricity generated by FOS vs REN, investment would shift.  With the increased competition to get a share of  the REN market, as we mounted the learning and volume curves, prices would drop for Renewable energy.  Soon coal, oil and gas would be feed stocks for industry and as such would last for thousands of years instead of tens of years.  The Keling curve would switch from 8 up and 6 down each year to 6 up and 8 down.  How do you overcome vested interests, though.  Read the book on the hockey stick by Mann to see what lengths these venal old men are willing to go to to scupper any reduction in their ill gotten gains.  The first step is to have the tax payer fund election campaigns and outlaw any corporate contributions.  Sound expensive???   It would be a drop in the bucket compared to what this corrupt system is costing and will cost in the future.

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  2. The link for the story, "South scores 11th-hour win on climate loss and damage" yields a "File Not Found" message for me.

    William, I am not exactly against the tax approach, but it seems rather weak tea considering the catastrophe we face. It would be as if WWII Britain discovered that there was a whole industry on their soil that was madly producing thousands of bombs and sending them to the Germans to drop on British cities, and the British government's response was, "We are goint to increase the tax a bit on those blokes who are building those bombs and sending them off to the Gerries. That ought to do the trick."

    We know now that burning ff is deeply immoral and deeply damaging to ourselves, our children, and our future. We don't have to marginally discourage their use. We have to abolish their use. Essentially immediately.

    But for some reason, that wasn't among the major proposals being considered in Warsaw last week, as far as I saw, unfortunately.

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