Tag: COP19

Can Warsaw Deliver Climate Action: Policy Experts Detail Expectations for COP19

Warsaw, Poland - Monday October 28, 2013: The major United Nations climate negotiations of the year, COP19, are due to get underway in coal-dependent Poland on November 11th. These talks present both major threats and opportunities to progress towards the comprehensive climate action plan due to be signed in Paris in 2015. 

The talks come as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest report showed that it is possible to avoid the worst climate impacts, but only if “substantial and sustained” action starts now. Countries have been challenged to act by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon who asked them to bring “bold pledges” to his Climate Leadership Summit in September next year. The single biggest thing countries can do at Warsaw is to commit to do so.

A pall, nevertheless, hangs over the talks, as the Polish Government has made a series of ham-fisted efforts to allow the fossil fuel lobby to have more influence over the UN meeting and to block European efforts to increase climate action. 

 

  • What: You are invited to join a telephone briefing by Climate Action Network experts who will outline civil society’s expectations for the year’s major UN climate negotiations and detail the current state of play in international climate policy.   

    •    When: 10am CET, Tuesday, November 5th, 2013.

    •    How to Join: Please email rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org to receive a toll free dial in number and conference room code for your country.  If the time zone does not suit, please also get in touch to arrange a one-on-one briefing. 

    •    Who:  
    •     Stephan Singer, global energy policy director, WWF. 
    •     Wendel Trio, director, Climate Action Network Europe
    •     Harjeet Singh, International Coordinator - Disaster Risk Reduction & Climate Adaptation, ActionAid

    
 

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Why when it comes to energy issues, Warsaw is closer to Washington than to Brussels– and what we can expect from the Warsaw COP19 climate summit

http://blog.gmfus.org/2013/08/09/why-when-it-comes-to-energy-issues-warsaw-is-closer-to-washington-than-to-brussels-and-what-we-can-expect-from-the-warsaw-cop19-climate-summit/

 

In November this year the next global summit dedicated to climate change will start in Warsaw. Once again Poland will chair the global climate negotiations. What is to be expected?

Difficult situation for global negotiations

In 2013 the climate is not well. Last year global CO2 emissions rose by another 1.4 per cent.  According to scientists the effects of climate change will be more severe than expected.  Most probably the temperature increase will be as high as five degrees Celsius and it will not be possible to curb the increase within the previously estimated two degrees Celsius.

Recently only a few countries managed to reduce emissions.  The United States was an exception in that it reduced emissions by 10 % — ironic considering it is the only country of the climate change convention which did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Admittedly Europe did reduce emissions by about 2.5 % cent in 2012, but there is no avoiding the fact that this was partially due to the financial crisis.

When the energy and climate package was adopted in Brussels in 2008 — assuming a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions, 20 % share of renewable energy and a 20 % increase in energy efficiency by 2020 — Europe was convinced that it should be the champion of climate protection and that by setting a good example it would entice the rest to follow.  This, however, did not happen. Five years have elapsed since that time – and while no one is going back on those decisions, enthusiasm has subsided.  Ever more often, instead of discussions of long term climate change strategies among European politicians, we see them talking numbers. The European recession is not releasing its grip and questions regarding energy prices are being posed more often — particularly as the United States is going through a gas revolution and the price of that resource is almost three times less than in Europe.  There is a large probability that a few years down the line American gas will make an appearance in Europe, significantly changing the energy map of the Old Continent.

The state of play in Poland and the US

The question is: what role can Poland play as the host of the global climate summit?

For years Warsaw has been participating in all UN and EU political projects in unison, delivering on its promises of emission reductions – which cannot be said of all the EU countries.

Now, however, as one of the three most coal dependent countries in the world, Poland is not supporting an increase in emission reduction targets in Europe — which Brussels is vying for — unless there is progress on the global forum.

Even if Poland on the UN level is presenting the common EU position, in recent years Warsaw seems closer to Washington than to Brussels when it comes to climate and energy policies. The keys to understanding this problem are the disproportionate allocation of costs for this low emission transformation and the varied levels of returns in the EU. The struggle for economic competitiveness is continuing in the background whilst the environment, unfortunately for many European Union member states, has taken on a secondary role.

After 2008, Polish politicians are finding it difficult to explain to Polish society why it is necessary to follow the European climate policy in the face of the fact that it is not yielding the expected emission reduction results and why is it that Poland, according the European Commission calculations, is to pay the most out of the EU countries.  Even if the goal of European climate policy is more than just a reduction of emissions, an increase in energy security, innovation, and the generation of funds for the modernization of the industrial sector, the actions of the European Commission are still seen as unfavorable for the Polish economy and without benefit to the environment.

There is no chance of a fundamental change in the direction of climate policy before 2017 in the United States.  However, President Obama in his speech on 25th of June announced new comprehensive program for tackling climate change and is going to use his executive powers to introduce more restrictive environmental protection standards through various regulations – a proof that if the big political framework doesn’t work, the bottom up approach might offer a solution to the problem. Nevertheless there is also a chance that the gas revolution will influence the United States to change its position as there is no reason for such determined resistance to reducing targets considering the emission levels are the lowest in 20 years.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

As is evident, significant progress on the subject of a global agreement with legally binding targets cannot be expected in the near future. Therefore the question of how to protect the climate if reduction targets are not viable has to be asked.

Both the United States as well as Poland prefer definite climate protection programs. This is called a framework for various approaches at the global negotiations forum. As an example, such activities could include increasing energy efficiency in buildings, transportation and industry.  Such actions will certainly be backed by many countries, including the United States and Poland. The development of dispersed generation is a worthy cause as it is beneficial to local communities and uses renewable energy. The European Union, adopting this new perspective, earmarked 20 per cent of its budget for such efforts.

Another significant issue involves the withdrawal of harmful fossil fuel subventions as discussed by the International Energy Agency in its last report of June 2013. Fossil fuel subsidies paint a false picture in discussions on the costs of energy — and additionally do not take into consideration the external costs of burning coal and other fossil fuels, standing in the way of the development of renewable and clean sources of energy. Even if we accept that the process of moving away from fossil fuels will last many years, the entire energy sector is in need of systematic changes.

The old principle of “thinking global, acting local” is an apt description of climate negotiations. Therefore in Warsaw, we must put more emphasis on definite actions supporting climate protection.

Let’s do more and talk less — before it really is too late.

Joanna Mackowiak Pandera, Head of the Market Development Department, Management Team Poland for  DONG Energy, was a Spring 2013 European Marshall Memorial Fellow.

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Bring Your Finance Ministers to Warsaw

Henriette Imelda
Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR)

As the SBs session in Bonn ended in June, there were several issues that still need to be clarified. The climate finance issue is amongst the crucial issues that was barely discussed in the session. The fact that now there are so many different entities that need to discuss climate finance probably has made everybody to go their own way. The Standing Committee on Climate Finance has their own task, Long Term Finance Work Programme also has their own direction, as well as the issue of establishing the Green Climate Fund. The above entities do represent some progress, yet those are not enough.

Clarity on whether the 100 billion dollars will be ready and how it will be deployed are still mysterious. Nobody knows whether the number could be achieved by that time. While the needs of developing countries and least developed countrie are growing, so are those of the small island developing states. This is due to time as well as due to climate change impacts that are currently threatening the above countries.

Long Term Finance Work Programme would have two expert workshops on the pathway towards the 100 billion, and the second part would be the enabling environment. The fact that Long Term Finance Work Programme does not have the mandate to come up with decisions is, therefore, important to have all the discussions within the Work Programme to be delivered to countries related ministers, especially ministers of finance. The issue of climate finance is highly important and that high-level dialogue must be conducted on the issues of finance.

Warsaw would be one of the most important COPs, especially in related to the new agreement that should be agreed in COP 21 in Paris. And the only thing to remind all countries, especially the developed countries, is to bring in the finance ministers to start thinking on possible climate change related, not only the implementation, but also the mobilization of the 100 billion dollars from the public finance. More funding scenarios on how to mobilize the 100 billion dollars are needed fast, not only to be considered, but to be decided.

So Parties, bring your finance ministers to Warsaw!

 

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