The 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ended in Warsaw on Saturday 23 November. While it finally managed to reach a compromise to pave the way towards an international agreement in Paris in 2015, it received a lukewarm reaction from many, being dubbed the ‘Coal COP’ (as it was partly sponsored by the coal industry and coincided with a ‘coal and climate summit) and the ‘dirtiest climate conference on record’. COP19 also witnessed the first walk-out in the history of the COPs by 800 climate change activists in protest at its lack of progress.
One of the main aims of the Conference was to lay the groundwork in preparation for the COP21 in Paris in 2015, where a new global climate agreement is hoped to be achieved, that will take effect from 2020. After some heated negotiations between developed and developing countries, it was agreed that all countries will come to the next COP (to be held in Lima, Peru in December2014) with clear national contributions (rather than commitments) on the climate action and emission reductions they plan to deliver from 2020. These plans must be published by the first quarter of 2015, in preparation for the COP21 in Paris. Participating countries also resolved to intensify technical work and to engage Ministers more frequently.
The conference also agreed to establish the “Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage”, an international mechanism to provide most vulnerable populations with better protection against loss and damage caused by extreme weather events and slow onset events such as rising sea levels. Several states, including the EU and US, announced that they would contribute public climate finance to support developing nation actions to curb emissions and adapt to climate change.
Significantly, governments agreed a set of decisions on REDD+, a framework for using market and financial incentives for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation, which account for around one fifth of all human-generated emissions. The decisions adopted provide guidance for setting up national forest monitoring systems, for ensuring environmental integrity and pave the way towards the full implementation of REDD+ activities on the ground. The package also provides a foundation for transparency and integrity of REDD+ action, clarifies ways to finance relevant activities and how to improve coordination of support. This “Warsaw Framework for REDD+” is backed by pledges of 280 million dollars financing from the US, Norway and the UK. The Warsaw Framework for REDD+ is a significant contribution to forest preservation and sustainable use.
European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, said the Warsaw conference, which ran for two weeks, showed “how challenging the way to an ambitious result in Paris will be”.
IES scientists F. Achard, G. Grassi and A. Miola actively participated in the Conference.
F. Achard works in the area of deforestation, and has been particularly involved in the development of REDD+, for which he provides support to DG CLIMA. He co-organised a side-event with DG Enterprise on Copernicus and REDD+, which was well attended. Achard was also among the 2,000 participants that attended the inaugural high-level Global Landscapes Forum organised by CIFOR in Warsaw on 16-17 November entitled "Shaping the climate and development agenda for forests and agriculture. A vision beyond 2015." Participants stressed the importance of an integrated land approach across sectors and across scales, in order to address the causes of land degradation and deforestation.
G. Grassi works on the role of the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) sector for climate mitigation, supporting DG CLIMA. This sector will play an important role in the post-2020 global climate mitigation and adaptation framework to be agreed at the Paris COP21 in 2015. Grassi contributed to the technical work which produced a new set of LULUCF reporting tables to be used for the second commitment period of the Kyoto protocol (2013-2020). He also participated in a side event on "2013 IPCC Kyoto Protocol LULUCF supplement”, at which he presented the main highlights of the section dealing with methods for afforestation/reforestation, deforestation and forest management. Grassi also participated in a side event on "REDD+ and LULUCF in the climate policy framework”, where he made a presentation on LULUCF in the context of the EU and the Kyoto protocol. In the debate which followed, it emerged that there is great interest on LULUCF but also difficulty in understanding the logic behind current LULUCF rules for people not involved in negotiations.
A. Miola works in the field of the economics of climate change and development. She was involved in the discussion on climate change and poverty reduction, the loss and damage debate, climate finance, and gender and climate change. These issues are increasing relevant within the context of the international climate policy and scientific debate. The impacts that climate events could have on existing natural, productive and social capital are well recognised, and could potentially force communities, in particular in developing countries, into a lower growth trajectory.