Which Way for Warsaw?

11 November 2013

And so here we are once again — with a hop (Doha), skip (Bonn) and a jump (Bonn the sequel) we’ve landed back in Poland for another COP.  

Indeed, it’s been a busy few months with the IPCC AR5 report from Working Group I out (and shutting down the deniers), both China and the US taking explicit action to curb coal, and some movement from the Montreal Protocol negotiations and even the ICAO.  We are excited to see whether this momentum plays out in Warsaw, but you can tell we’re also a bit worried.

ECO welcomes our readers to Poland!  [despite the inappropriate scheduling of coal conferences]  So what’s in store over the next two weeks?  

In the coming days, we can see some wild cards on the table.  How will the Russian et al. objections be reconciled? How many lawyers will the US bring out of the woodwork to ensure no mention of ‘compensation’ crops up?  

But there are also some positives.  With the completion of the Kyoto Protocol and Bali negotiating tracks, negotiators will feel less of a burden from those complicated flow charts that tried to keep up with seven negotiating tracks at once.

And the simplified schedule should also concentrate minds on the key issues that urgently need to be addressed.  Progress here in Warsaw on finance, loss and damage and pre-2020 ambition is essential to build trust and to lay the foundations for an ambitious and effective 2015 agreement in Paris.

We must also see much greater clarity at the end of these two weeks on the process and timeline for countries putting forward their proposed post-2020 mitigation pledges — and for developed countries, their indicative post-2020 financial pledges — as well as a clear process for a full and meaningful review of those pledges well in advance of Paris. That review must assess both the collective adequacy of the pledges against the global temperature limitation goal, and their individual fairness against a set of equity criteria and indicators.

Parties need to go home from COP 19 fully aware of their homework assignments to build up their post-2020 pledges in order to put them forward in 2014. They also must focus on ways to close by 2020 the substantial Gigatonne Gap (with a third UNEP update on hand just last week).  And the homework assignment there is quite clear: raise the ambition of existing pledges and enhance cooperation on deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, phase-out of HFCs and other key efforts.

ECO hopes our COP hosts will move the process along smoothly, despite being preoccupied by hosting their other summit with the World Coal Association.

ECO would like to remind the government of Poland that along with aspiring to be an emerging international player comes more responsibility.  

The World Coal Summit reinforces the structural bias of the global economy towards fossil fuels (which quite frankly, dear readers, need no helping hand!).  But it is also distinctly dismissive towards those countries facing an existential threat from climate change.  

So, fully noting our bewilderment at the COP host's strategy, ECO hopes that the new, slimmer version of these talks results in a make-over as to how Parties engage.  
They must roll up their sleeves, put aside their well-known talking points (the ones we can all recite now without looking at our notes from previous sessions), and make real progress on finance, loss and damage, pre-2020 ambition, and the way forward to deliver the ambitious and fair post-2020 agreement the world demands in Paris.  

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