Written By: Jim Greenberg
During the last hours of the UN climate change talks in Warsaw, almost 200 governments agreed to commit to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, establishing a final date for signing at UN climate talks in Paris, 2015.
The agreement, finalized after UN talks went into overtime after more than 36 hours of nonstop negotiations, is an attempt to overcome recent disputes raised when emerging nations called on developed nations to help them curb emissions as part of the effort to tackle climate change.
Among the speakers was Yeb Sano, Climate Change Commissioner of the Philippines, who made an emotional plea for climate action after the recent devastation caused by typhoon Haiyan.
Under the new agreement, countries have until the first quarter of 2015 to publish their carbon emission reduction plans for limiting global warming to 2oC above preindustrial levels.
Once the plans are published, all countries will have an opportunity to assess one anothers’ suggested commitments to determine if they are fair and sufficient.
The final 2015 agreement in Paris is set to replace the defunct Kyoto Protocol –an agreement that requires only developed countries to curb their carbon emission output, meaning that rapidly emerging economies like China and India have not had to participate. The new agreement, set to come into force in 2020, requires both developed and undeveloped economies to participate.
“In the old system you had this firewall between commitments and actions; now there is one word for all”, says Connie Hedegaard, the EU commissioner for Climate Action.
Hedegaard adds, “The EU wanted the stepwise approach that is now agreed as the way forward: all countries must contribute to the future reduction efforts, and already now all countries must go home and do their homework in order to table their contributions well in advance of the Paris conference.”
Delegates of the two-week meeting also created a “Warsaw International Mechanism”, an attempt to provide developing nations with aid and expertise to overcome the disastrous consequences of climate change, including rising sea levels, droughts, floods and desertification. However, developed nations at the Warsaw Conference failed to pledge any new funds for this enterprise.
Although negotiations have been made to help developing nations deal with the effects of climate change, unknown details on how and to what extent highlights that all countries still have significant work ahead before meeting again in Paris.