Warsaw Climate Change Conference Goes Into Overtime

Warsaw HallwayWARSAW-“This COP is already
locked in failure,” declared Anjali Appadurai at a press briefing
as the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP-19) of the U.N. Climate
Change Convention (UNFCCC) slouched toward its close on Friday
night. She added, “This COP has delivered nothing.” As it happens,
Appadurai was one of the activists who participated in the
“massive” walkout of self-styled civil society at the conference on
Thursday, but there she was on the podium at as representative of
Third World Network
. Never mind. The environmental ministers
and diplomats are still at it trying shape some kind of deal.

So what would “success” look like to Appadurai and other climate
change activists here at the Warsaw conference? First, the rich
countries would have to admit their
historical responsibility
for damaging the climate and commit
to cutting their greenhouse emissions by 40 percent below what they
emitted in 1990. Currently, developed nations have committed to
cuts amounting to about 18 percent by 2020.

Second, it is not enough that the rich countries promised in
2009 at the Copenhagen climate change conference to “mobilize” $100
billion per year in climate change funding for poor countries
beginning in 2020. Meena Raman, another representative of the Third
World Network, cited the demands from the Like-Minded Developing
Countries for $70 billion in climate change funding by 2015. The
poor countries are also adamant that the billions “mobilized” by
rich countries should not come from the private sector: that’s just
way too uncertain. Poor country governments will accept only public
funds in the form of grants.

Citing the awful devastation wreaked on the Philippines by
Typhoon Haiyan, the poor country negotiators claim is that it’s far
too late to mitigate or adapt to climate change. It’s now time to
pay for the effects of climate change. So the third demand from
poor countries is that the rich countries set up a separate funding
mechanism in addition to the annual $100 billion already promised
to compensate poor countries for the
loss and damage
caused by climate change.

The rich countries have been resisting all three of these
demands. Instead, they are focusing on how to reach some kind of
binding global treaty at the COP in Paris in 2015.
Under that agreement all countries, rich and poor, are supposed to
make nationally determined mitigation commitments. That is, each
country is supposed tell the rest of the world how and by how much
they plan to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions after the new
treaty comes into force in 2020. Poor countries counter that they
will not make any such commitments until the rich countries make
firm climate change funding commitments.

The rich countries led by U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern
would count the conference a “success” if it achieved two things.
First, negotiators would establish uniform greenhouse gas
mitigation performance standards that could be compared directly
across all countries. Second, the conference would adopt a
timetable in which each country is expected to make its initial
mitigation pledges public and available for criticism, preferably
by late 2014 or early 2015. The rich countries also do not want to
create a new loss and damage bureaucracy, but have those issues
handled under the already existing adaptation provisions of the

The COP was supposed to close at 6 pm (CET) but the negotiations
continue and are expected to run well into the night. My final
dispatch from the Warsaw climate conference, reporting on what it
delivered, if anything, will appear on Monday

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/22/warsaw-climate-change-conference-goes-in

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