Diakonia - People change the world
Diakonia's policy advisor Petter Lydén at COP19, in a conversation with Yeb Sano from the Philippines.

Climate change: COP19 negotiations in Warzaw

At the end of every year, the international climate change negotiators gather for two weeks. In 2013, the meeting (COP19) took place in Warsaw from 11 to 23 of November. "Development lost and damaged" is a sad phrase that summarizes the outcome of COP19. Diakonia participated in the meeting and is also part of the network Aprodev, which has compiled this summary and comments on the negotiations.

1/7/2014 Publisher: Petter Lydén

By the scheduled closure on Friday, 22nd, no decision on the burning issues of the conference had yet been taken. The ‘real’ negotiations on the main topics: finance, the elements of the future 2015 comprehensive Paris climate change agreement and an international mechanism on loss and damage began on Friday night and lasted until Saturday evening. Decisions on all of them could finally be adopted, but the content is just as disappointing as the process.

The outcome documents reflect above all the deep division lines between countries around the world and their failure to agree on adequate measures to slow down dangerous climate change.

The rich and the developed countries

Those countries who have been emitting dangerous greenhouse gases since the middle of the 18th century and thereby caused the majority of the problem just as new high-emitters such as oil-rich countries do not want to take ambitious mitigation measures in line with what is needed according to science.

Japan, Australia and Poland

Japan even announced it would dramatically revise its targets downwards – from 25 per cent reductions to more than 3 per cent growth in greenhouse gas emissions. The Australian government unveiled plans to repeal its carbon price and did everything to block the entire negotiations wherever it could. The Polish presidency was not very interested in an ambitious outcome either as it was defending the country's large coal industry, perceived as ‘national treasure’.

EU kept a low profile

The EU as a whole kept a low profile, giving up its leadership role of past years by not really offering much to help the process. Even though the EU is on schedule to reach almost 30 per cent reductions by 2020 without additional measures, the Community is not willing to go beyond its official goal of 20 per cent reductions.

Funds for mitigatation and adaptation

While annually 100 billion Euro are promised to developing countries to pay for mitigation and adaptation by the year 2020, the figures do not show progress towards this goal.

Developed countries did not even want to say how much they will scale-up and when. They tried to shift the focus from public finance to private finance, but failed to answer how private finance can support the poorest and most vulnerable people in adaptation measures or in addressing loss and damage.

The developing countries fought for mechanism on loss and damage

Rich countries in general did not want to provide the necessary funds to pay for comprehensive mitigation and adaptation action in developing countries. They fought against an international mechanism addressing the losses and damages caused by climate change, such as rising sea levels and extreme weather events, as they do not want to provide additional funds.

Developing countries stood firmly together in their fight for the establishment of an international mechanism on loss and damage. They finally obtained the mechanism, but it is weak and does not provide for additional financing. The urgently needed scaling-up of climate finance did not come forward at this conference dubbed ‘finance summit’.

The Adaptation Fund

The completely empty Adaptation Fund was replenished to 100 million USD and individual countries announced further new pledges, but these were small compared to the needs established.

No agreement om egity framework for GHG reduction

An equity framework to guide national greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction commitments could not be agreed upon, just as a revision of the individual country’s reduction commitments. Big developing countries with rising emissions such as China and India blocked these proposals. They fended of demands of ‘traditional’ emitters to take over more responsibility in line with their increased wealth and emissions.

NGOs including APRODEV as part of the global ACT Alliance family supported  developing country partners wherever we could and lobbied the EU and its member states. On loss and damage for instance, the EU did not support the creation of an international mechanism before the conference, but finally played a constructive role in forging a compromise as asked by us.

2014 - an outlook

In the first half of 2014, the EU is scheduled to adopt its objectives for climate and energy policies with the horizon 2030.  The 2030 package needs to include ambitious targets for greenhouse gas reductions (at least 55 per cent), renewable energy (at least 45 per cent) and energy efficiency (at least 40 per cent).

The signal of three strong EU targets in conjunction with enhanced additional international climate funds are vital to drive the climate change negotiations in Lima in December 2014 on the road towards a comprehensive new global climate agreement in Paris in 2015.