On November 24, negotiators from 192 nations reached an agreement at the Warsaw climate talks to disclose carbon targets by early 2015.
The two-week meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 19th annual Conference of the Parties (COP-19) was tasked with laying the groundwork for 2015’s COP-21 in Paris, where a successor to the Kyoto Protocol is expected to be finalized.
The meeting was marked by intransigence on the definition of greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction commitments between developed and developing nations, and last minute negotiations centered on one word in the agreement, “commitment.”
China’s chief negotiator, Su Wei, stated that “only developed countries should have commitments.”
A last-minute agreement was reached by changing wording in the document allowing for a more flexible interpretation between the goals of developing and developed countries.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christina Figueres commented on the agreement, stating, “We have seen essential progress. But let us again be clear that we are witnessing ever more frequent, extreme weather events, and the poor and vulnerable already paying the price. Now governments, and especially developing nations, must go back to do their homework so they can put their plans on the table ahead of the Paris conference.”
Other minor successes developed during the two weeks of negotiations, including the formal adoption of the United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program, aimed at preserving the world’s remaining forests.
Additionally, a non-binding aid agreement, the “loss and damage mechanism” was reached.
While negotiators saw the 2015 GHG emissions reductions goals as an important first step in achieving a binding protocol at the Paris conference in late 2015, the agreement is tenuous, leaving out key details on what the carbon targets should include or how they should be evaluated.
According to Alden Meyer of the Union for Concerned Scientists, the negotiators “failed to agree on what process and criteria they would use to evaluate the adequacy and fairness of each other’s proposed actions.”
COP-20 will meet next year in Lima, Peru. The final GHG emissions goals, to be set the following year at COP-21 in Paris, are expected to take effect in 2020.
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