23 november 2013

UN Plan Charts Path to Climate Accord Limiting Pollution

By Ewa Krukowska & Alex Morales, Bloomberg Nov 23, 2013

Envoys from almost 190 nations endorsed a program that sets out steps toward the next agreement aimed at reducing global warming, after accepting a compromise that watered down the responsibilities of developing nations such as India and China.

Delegates at a United Nations conference in Warsaw today backed a plan from India and China calling for all nations to make “contributions” to reducing fossil-fuel emissions within the next two years. The language was less strict than the “commitments” suggested by the U.S. and Europe.

The language was agreed upon in an informal huddle of diplomats at the talks, which ran a day behind schedule amid divisions between richer nations and poorer ones about who was responsible for climate change and who must move first. The decision on the timetable for future action was among the most controversial issues at the meeting.

Envoys are still debating a number of other measures, including a loss-and-damage measure for nations most vulnerable to climate change, and financial aid pledges.

While the Warsaw meeting was never meant to be a breakthrough in the fight against global warming, it was to put in place the key building blocks necessary for a treaty the delegates aim to agree on in 2015 and that would come into force five years later

Finance Debate

The envoys had locked horns on finance, with China, India, Bangladesh, Cuba, Nepal and Nicaragua demanding rich nations agree to an interim milestone on the way toward their $100 billion aid pledge. Nicaragua, speaking for a group of 130 countries, sought $70 billion in aid by 2016. That dispute has yet to be resolve.

“We still don’t have a road map on finance. We have had proposals,” Indian envoy T.S. Tirumurti told the conference today. “The sense of urgency is missing.”

The U.S. and European Union so far have resisted making more commitments on aid, partly because of their own economic difficulties and partly because they want aid to flow along with commitments from poorer nations on cutting emissions. Developing nations have no mandatory limits under the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 treaty that remains the only global pact limiting global-warming pollution.

“The real annoyance seems to be on the lack of progress on financing,” said Bas Eickhout, a member of the European Parliament’s delegation to the talks. “I have the feeling this deadlock can be broken by some kind of concession on a sub-target on finances in 2016. If not, this entire endgame may derail, which is the worst outcome.”

Typhoon Impact

The typhoon that devastated the Philippines this month amplified the anger of developing countries that industrial nations are backtracking on previous pledges. Japan, Australia and Canada have watered down commitments on emissions. The Warsaw talks mark the first time since the UN started these discussions in 1992 that ambitions have been scaled back.

Record carbon emissions have lifted the Earth’s temperature about 0.8 degrees Celsius since the industrial revolution, and the planet is on a path to exceed the UN-endorsed maximum of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by 2100. As a result, sea levels are rising, oceans are acidifying and glaciers and sea ice are melting. Scientists predict more freak weather, droughts and stronger storms.

Draft Text

“We are going to be leading to a 3- or 4-degree world,” said Gambian envoy Pa Ousman Jarju. “That is catastrophic for the least island states, small island states and the African continent.”

U.S. and European diplomats said they could live with a draft text released late yesterday that would set out the conclusions of the meeting. They expressed concern that China and India wanted to revive a division between industrial and developing nations on how greenhouse-gas cuts will be made in the next treaty, a divide that was eliminated two years ago.

“It was somewhat astonishing to hear my good friend from China to say commitments apply to only developed country parties,” U.S. Special envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern said. “I feel I’m going back in a time warp.”


Rich vs poor deadlock broken at U.N. climate talks

By Alister Doyle and Nina Chestney, Reuters, November 23, 2013

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.

Under the last climate pact, the Kyoto Protocol, only the most developed countries were required to limit their emissions - one of the main reasons the United States refused to accept it, saying rapidly growing economies like China and India must also take part.

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UN Envoys Adopt Conclusions on Climate Finance at Warsaw Talks

By Alex Morales, Bloomberg, Nov 23, 2013

Envoys at United Nations global warming talks adopted a decision on climate change aid, clearing up a second of three areas that’s kept them working a day over time in Warsaw.

The text calls on developed countries to mobilize climate aid from government money “at increasing levels” from the $10-billion a year paid out from 2010 through 2012, with an aim to reach their pledge of $100 billion in 2020 from public and private funds.

Delegates have also agreed on a work plan leading through to a planned globally-binding climate agreement in 2015. They’ve yet to decide whether to create a mechanism that will help vulnerable nations deal with the losses and damage caused by global warming

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