23rd Oct 2020

Warsaw climate talks end in new timetable

  • Warsaw: The Greenland Ice Sheet melted at a rate six times faster, on average, between 2002 and 2011 than the decade before, Greenpeace says (Photo: metaphox)

Climate delegates from around 200 governments in Warsaw pieced together a last minute deal on a timetable to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement, reached in the early hours of Sunday (24 November), gives nations around a year to put together their individual goals to cut damaging emissions.

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The target is to limit global temperature increase by 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in order to prevent dangerous climate change.

The delegates also agreed to set up a so-called Warsaw International Mechanism to help poorer nations cope with rising sea levels, droughts, floods and desertification.

But complications pushed the negotiations into overtime as richer nations, along with the EU bloc, opposed committing any new money into the mechanism.

The decisions mean the upcoming global agreement on climate change in Paris in 2015 is reportedly still on track although pro-environment NGOs and some poorer nations say the Warsaw conference lacked ambition.

"Warsaw has set a pathway for governments to work on a draft text of a new universal climate agreement, an essential step to reach a final agreement in Paris, in 2015," said the Polish host, former minister of environment, Marcin Korolec.

The final agreement in Paris is set to replace the defunct Kyoto Protocol and would enter into force in 2020.

The Kyoto Protocol only required the most developed countries to curb carbon emission output. The United States refused to sign on because rapidly emerging economies like China and India did not have to take part.

Meanwhile, Australia and Japan at the Warsaw convention both backtracked on previous commitments to cut their carbon emissions, upsetting pro-environment NGOs and poorer nations. On top of this, demands by emerging economies like India are said to jeopardize the 2 degree Celsius threshold.

“Instead of taking steps forward, countries have dug themselves further into their trenches,” said Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout.

The EU, for its part, welcomed the agreement as a step forward in the international fight against climate change.

“For sure there will be faster and less bumpy ways to Paris but now the journey has started,” said the European Commissioner for climate, Connie Hedegaard, in a statement.

The two-week long convention of the annual meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change had started on the tail end of a massive typhoon in the Philippines, which killed up to 4,000 people and affected 13 million.

Scientists and pro-environment NGOs say the world is set to experience more intensive weather patterns as nations continue to burn fossil fuels.

Leading climate scientists in September at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted, with 95 percent certainty, that man-made greenhouse emissions have a negative impact on climate.

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