The nineteenth meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 19) is taking place inWarsaw, Poland, the 10th largest consumer of coal in the world, and producing 92% of its electricity from coal. According to many, must mark a ‘turning point’ for the international climate negotiations. Among the key outcomes expected from this meeting are on issues around mitigation, scaling up finance especially for adaptation, setting up an international mechanism to address loss and damage, and a plan for reaching a new legal agreement on climate action in 2015.
The COP 19 opened last week with the world witnessing the massive devastation brought by super typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and with that, the impassioned appeal of Philippine Climate Change Commissioner Naderev Sano to ‘stop the madness’ of a few rich countries that continue to renege on their climate commitments amidst the worsening impacts of climate change. Sano also announced that he will go on voluntary fasting throughout the COP 19 meetings, and this has snowballed all over the world, with many organizations and individuals going on solidarity fasting for the climate.
But as the first week of the 19th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP19) drew to a close, fault lines between developed and developing countries are becoming clearer.
Japan stated that it will drastically reduce its emissions reduction target from the previous 25% to 3.8% based on 2005 levels by 2020. Japan stated that it would instead focus on increasing climate finance. Japan is an Annex I country and has been very active in the carbonmarkets and will likely continue to concentrate on furthering bilateral and multilateral agreements while using expanded carbon markets. Meanwhile, Australia also announced a reduction in their climate mitigation commitments, and has even indicated it would not support any financial agreement that would move resources from the North to the South. Canada, which earlier withdrew from the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, has supported Australia and Japan.
Corporate influence of the UNFCC is also becoming even more evident at this year’s meeting. A report from the non-government Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), COP 19 is the first UN climate talks to have corporate sponsorship, including ArecelorMittal, Alstom and BMW. Poland, the host government, also announced that it is co-hosting a summit with theWorld Coal Association in the 2nd week of the climate talks.
Yesterday, more than a thousand demonstrators marched for climate justice from the Palace of Culture and Science to the National Stadium where the negotiations are taking place. Braving the cold winds, the activists demanded concrete commitments towards international climate action, with the developed countries taking the lead.