Wednesday, September 20, 2017

UN Climate Negotiations Wrap Up in Warsaw, Climate Action Hotline, 11.25.13

US Climate Action Network

UN Climate Negotiations Wrap Up in Warsaw

UNFCCC Executive Secretary & COP19 President

After a long overnight session and an extra day, the UN climate negotiations concluded Saturday evening in Warsaw, Poland. A few key issues—including climate finance, loss and damage, and next steps forward on the 2015 climate deal—divided countries in the final few hours, as did old differences on the respective responsibilities of developed and developing countries.

Loss and Damage: Words carry weight in the climate negotiations. In the context of documents that could one day become the basis for a global agreement, otherwise inconsequential phrasing choices matter. One word, “under,” lead to near-deadlock in the climate talks on Saturday.

By that point, countries agreed to set up a new system to tackle loss and damage—climate impacts that they cannot prevent or tackle with adaptation. This decision was an apparent step forward in a discussion that has been tense since last year’s climate negotiations in Doha.

Despite that progress, on Saturday countries still disagreed as to whether the system for loss and damage should “live” under structures already in place to deal with climate adaptation, or whether loss and damage should be treated as its own, separate issue. Exhausted negotiators finally struck a reluctant compromise to house the loss and damage system, or “mechanism,” under adaptation for now, including some language clarifying the differences between loss and damage and adaptation, and decided to revisit the decision in three years.

Finance: On climate finance—a topic of heated discussion in Warsaw— outcomes were mixed. On the one hand, countries left Warsaw with little progress on their collective game plan for delivering the $100 billion per year by 2020 agreed in Copenhagen in 2009. It is also unclear when countries will begin committing money to the Green Climate Fund. For developing countries, both of these issues are critical.  

On the other hand, countries did achieve a goal of setting aside $100 million for an international climate adaptation fund, and also agreed to deliver more finance for a forests initiative called Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). Some experts also note that countries have at least agreed to hold more structured discussions about how they will ramp up to the larger $100 billion goal.

2015 Deal: In another example of word-choice stalemate, some of the late-breaking discussions centered around whether developing countries will be expected to take on “contributions” or “commitments” under the climate agreement slated to go into effect in 2020 (“contributions” came out on top).

In the final hours of negotiations on Saturday, countries agreed to a general timeframe for offering their own longer-term climate goals “well in advance” of the 2015 negotiations in Paris, France.  Many agreed with the need for countries to go home and do their “homework” on these targets in advance of next year’s talks in Lima, Peru where draft negotiating text for the 2015 agreement is expected to be discussed. Unfortunately, they did not come to agreement on what those goals should look like, or on how countries’ goals should be evaluated relative to fairness, adequacy, or urgency.

Some of our members and allies feel that as necessarily incremental meetings on the road to a new global climate agreement,the Warsaw negotiations achieved what needed to be achieved. Others in our community feel that any gains continue to be overshadowed by the slow pace of progress, ambition backsliding and lack of political will from key governments, and industry influence on the process. All seem to agree that supporting and pushing action by governments at home is key to moving solutions forward at the global level. For journalists’ and US Climate Action Network members’ reactions to the negotiations, be sure to check out our resource page:  

In preparation for the next round of negotiations set for December 2014 in Lima, Peru, countries will continue to meet throughout the next year. Particularly of note: United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is hosting a September 2014 UN leaders’ summit on climate change in New York. Organizers hope the September summit will increase countries’ political will going into next year’s negotiations in Lima by making climate change an urgent priority for more heads of state around the world. Please refer to the USCAN website,, for periodic updates on our members’ plans building toward the Leaders’ Summit.

For more background on what to expect in the lead-up to the 2014 UN climate negotiations in Peru, hear more from Climate Action Network Latin America CANLA Director Enrique Maurtua Konstantinidis: Video.

That’s a wrap from the USCAN team on the ground in Warsaw—it’s time to head home for Thanksgiving and start planning for Peru! We have enjoyed sharing a little of our experience with you.  Be sure to let us know what you think of these updates at so that we can do our best to tailor future Hotlines to meet your needs.  

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