UN climate talks end with no takeaways

Only a weak agreement on mechanism to fund ‘loss and damage’

By Arnab Pratim Dutta
Published: Sunday 24 November 2013

The climate change talks in Warsaw concluded on a tepid note with nothing substantial emerging after two weeks of negotiations. The talks would have borne no results had it not been for a last minute compromised deal to set up a “loss and damage” mechanism to compensate and insure developing countries from the impact of climate change-related natural events.

A major expectation from this conference was settting up a road map on how finances from the developed countries could flow into developing countries. A $100-billion a year fund is to be readied by 2020, which will help developing countries adapt to impacts of global warming and assist in mitigation of CO2 emissions. A key agenda of this conference was to identify the sources of money for this fund. But there were major disagreements over the source—whether private investment could be a part of this fund. Developed countries wanted market mechanisms to play a key role in its financing, while the developing countries wanted only public money. There was no agreement on this. There was also little money pledged for the interim period between now and 2020.

The conference also saw developed countries refusing to take any firm commitments to reduce green house gasses. In the final agreement that emerged from the Ad hoc working group on Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) the word “commitment” was changed in the final hours to “contributions”, with the developed countries only agreeing to work on these contributions for a larger agreement to be reached in Paris in 2015.

India along with BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) and LMDCs (Like Minded Developing Countries) managed to ward off a strong offensive by the developed countries to remove differentiation and responsibility in climate impact mitigation efforts based on historical responsibility for emissions, but at the end managed to keep distinctions in place.

The devastation caused in Philippines by typhoon Haiyan and the subsequent fast by its chief negotiator Yeb Sano meant that an agreement on “loss and damage” was inevitable in this conference. But only a very weak agreement could be reached here. The developing countries wanted a separate institution for “loss and damage”, but on the insistence of the US and the EU, it was clubbed with Adaptation Fund. The discussions on loss and damage were also pushed back beyond 2015 after the Paris talks where a new climate deal is expected to be signed .

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