November 23, 2013

Negotiators Salvage Climate Framework At Last Minute

Negotiators Salvage Climate Framework At Last Minute

WARSAW (November 23, 2013) – Just moments ago, delegates from more than 190 nations at the annual U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland wrapped up negotiations with an agreements on the path to a post-2020 climate deal in Paris in 2015, as well as agreements on climate finance and loss and damage.

Below is a statement by Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“In the words of the Beatles, ‘it’s been a hard day’s night.’ After a near-death experience in the final hours, countries reached agreement on a pathway to Paris, where they have committed to adopt a new, comprehensive post-2020 agreement to address the climate crisis. They also agreed to pursue near-term actions to reduce emissions, although with nowhere near the level of ambition and urgency that the situation requires. As Typhoon Haiyan, the recent floods in Colorado and widespread drought in many parts of the United States demonstrate, no one is immune from the loss of lives and economic damage caused by extreme weather events.

“In the exhausted hours of the morning and early afternoon, countries agreed on the timeframe to put forward what they intend to do after 2020 to cut their carbon pollution and they set a deadline of next year's climate summit in Lima, Peru to agree on the information they need to provide when they submit these plans. Unfortunately, they failed to agree on what process and criteria they would use to evaluate the adequacy and fairness of each others' proposed actions; they will need to work on this over the next year.

"The Warsaw meeting also made some progress on the politically charged issue of climate finance—the assistance provided by the U.S. and other developed countries to help developing countries deploy clean technologies, reduce deforestation, and cope with the mounting impacts of climate change. While the amount of additional funds pledged here in Warsaw for these activities was fairly limited, a process was established to provide clarity on how to ramp up funding from roughly $30 billion a year towards the $100 billion annually by 2020 pledged by President Obama and other leaders in Copenhagen in 2009.

“The third decision reached in the final hours was on 'loss and damage'—how to help vulnerable countries cope with the increasingly unavoidable impacts of climate change. Negotiators created a new body, the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, to address this need. The U.S. delegation showed good faith in working with the most vulnerable countries to create this new institution, which should get up and running fairly quickly under the decision reached today.

“To steal a line from the Rolling Stones, 'you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.' We didn't get everything we wanted in Warsaw, but we got what we needed. As the intense discussions showed, there are serious differences between countries on the tough issues involved in getting a climate deal in Paris in 2015. A major opportunity for progress will come next September, when United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will convene world leaders for a one-day climate summit in New York. President Obama and other leaders must take this opportunity to put forward bold new actions to cut carbon pollution.

"UCS and our allies leave Warsaw committed to do all we can to press our political leaders to stand up to the fossil fuel polluters who work overtime to block progress on the road to a sustainable energy future. Leaders must summon the political will to take the bold steps needed to protect their citizens from the worst impacts of climate change."