28 October 2013
Warsaw Conference: Barometer of a New Agreement
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The importance of the Warsaw Climate Change Conference must not be underestimated.

It has the daunting task of setting the stage for the follow-up negotiation rounds in 2014 and 2015.

Doha merely provided us with an interim solution. Like it or not, a comprehensive solution to global climate change has only been postponed – it should be noted that the percentage of global emissions covered by the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol is estimated to be as low as 14-15%. Meanwhile, scientific proof of the urgency of the problem grows evermore resolute. Working Group I’s contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report explicitly and unequivocally confirmed just that.

In light of this, the strategic goal should now be the elaboration of a new universal agreement, which will provide solid ground for a truly comprehensive solution that is environmentally sound, scientifically proven and economically viable.

We cannot not ignore the inconvenient truth that views on how to tackle the climate challenge remain varied, if not polarized. In Warsaw, we must seize the opportunity and work towards consolidating the efforts of both developed and developing nations. To focus and expedite negotiations, the “Road Map” to Lima-2014 and Paris-2015 has to be adopted. Moreover, this must be supported by sufficient allocations from the UNFCCC regular budget for the requisite number of AWG-ADP sessions. The past practice of planning negotiating sessions pursuant to voluntary contributions is unsustainable and can no longer be accepted. It is in everyone’s interest to re-evaluate the priorities of the UNFCCC regular budget as necessary.

Efforts to elaborate a new agreement have to be accompanied by jump-starting the implementation of prior decisions on fast-start climate finance and long-term funding arrangements. A more enabling environment is needed to make the financial mechanisms fully operational. Better understanding of the precise architecture and content of a future agreement could prove to be one such incentive.

Clearer vision is also needed on the loss and damage issue, which remains the subject of vigorous debate. It would be hard to justify a “stand-alone budget line” on loss and damage. Looking at it from a system-wise perspective, the loss and damage issue is an integral part of adaptation activities. If discussions could be oriented towards this perspective, it might help to streamline the deliberations.

The new agreement is expected to sketch the landscape for climate collaboration in the long-term: up to 2030 and most likely beyond it. If we are genuinely serious about two goals- making the regime ratifiable and sustainable, as well as delivering a tangible result- we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. First, the drafting exercise may not be put off until the eleventh hour, inhibiting Parties from making well-informed decisions as they adopt legally meaningful instruments. Second, transparency and rule of law must be the cornerstones of our collective efforts. These were the driving forces behind the initiative taken by the three like-minded Annex-I EIT countries- Belarus, Russia, Ukraine- to discuss decision-making in the UNFCCC process. Our initiative is a forward-looking one. It does not seek to overrule decisions already taken, no matter how dubious the legality of some of them may be. Rather, it is intended to guarantee the conduct of negotiations on a new agreement in conformity with the Rules of Procedure of the UNFCCC, the working practices of the United Nations system and international legal standards. Such guarantees should pave the way for a just and lasting solution to the blight of global climate change.

There is extreme merit in UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s initiative to convene a Climate Summit in September 2014, in support of the UNFCCC Process. Visionary brainstorming at the highest political level to address the multifaceted issue of global climate change would certainly propel the ongoing work of negotiators and elevate it to qualitatively new levels. The principle of CBDR has a particular importance in this context. Sticking to antiquated interpretations of the CBDR won’t do any good in trying to enable collaborative efforts to stabilize the anthropogenic load on the global climate system.

One precious asset is expiring as we speak: time. The importance of the Warsaw Conference must not be underestimated. It has the daunting task of setting the stage for the follow-up negotiation rounds in 2014 and 2015. Moreover, there is every reason to believe that this conference will reveal the true mood of the international community, just how serious it is about implementing the task set forth in Durban: to complete work on a new agreement no later than 2015, and for that to come into effect and be implemented from 2020. Success in Paris-2015 will not be possible without success in Warsaw-2013.