COP 19: What You Should Know

Delegates from around the world convened in Warsaw, Poland recently for the 19th Annual Meeting of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), known as COP 19 (Conference of the Parties).  The meeting comprised the latest effort by the UNFCCC to forge a binding global agreement on responding to the threat of climate change.  Presented here is a bite-sized brief on the key outcomes of COP 19.
Warsaw, Poland
The setting of COP 19 seemed somewhat at odds with the gathering’s purpose. Poland is a significant user of fossil fuels and thus a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, meeting 90% of its energy demand by burning coal.  Moreover, COP 19 occurred right next door to a coal industry conference, the International Coal and Climate Summit.
Philippines Delegation
Yep Sano, leader of the Philippines delegation, presaged the event with an emotional plenary speech in which he pleaded for the attendees to make substantive progress on a achieving a binding resolution.  He then fulfilled a pledge to fast throughout the conference until results were achieved.
Japan Balks
Japan announced that it would not meet its Kyoto Protocol emissions reduction target, instead projecting a 3% increase in emissions over 1990 levels.  This is mainly a result of Japan’s abandonment of nuclear energy in the wake the Fukushima catastrophe.  Canada and Australia also showed signs of weakening policies intended to reduce emissions.
Warsaw Mechanism and Loss and Damage
Debate swirled around the so-called “Loss and Damage mechanism”, eventually settling in a compromise, called the Warsaw Mechanism.  Developing countries hoped to establish the loss and damage mechanism to provide a source of funding to meet the immediate needs of environmental disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan, something which climate change adaptation finance is not meant to address directly.  In the end, to the satisfaction of these countries, the loss and damage mechanism was specified to function independently from adaptation.
Via the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries), delegates approved provision of a framework to cut deforestation in half by 2020 and halt it by 2030.
Durban Platform and COP 21 in Paris, 2015
Talks concluded with last-minute agreement that kept framework on track to meet previous commitment to have a comprehensive plan to address climate change by 2015, known as the Durban Platform.  Key to the deal was changing the word “commitments” to “contributions” in reference to countries’ emissions reductions responsibilities.

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