Key issues to know on Warsaw climate talks 2013

2013-11-08 13:38

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Paris - With fewer than 800 days left to agree a new UN pact on global warming, climate negotiators gather in Warsaw next week armed with just the haziest outlines of a deal.

Following are the main issues facing the November 11-22 conference:

Shape of 2015 accord

In 2011, UN members agreed to conclude a new deal by 2015 that would limit global warming to 2°C.

Taking effect from 2020, it would bind all countries- including chief polluters the United States and China - to targets for reducing greenhouse gases.

But fundamental questions remain unanswered.

They include how nations should make their pledges; how to judge if these commitments will meet the 2°C goal; whether countries should be penalised for non-compliance; and whether the deal should be a treaty or some other legal form.

Also unsettled is whether to retain a special status for poorer countries which are least to blame for global warming but doomed to suffer most from its effects.


This issue ranks high on the ministerial segment of the Warsaw meeting, starting on 20 November.

At the 2009 Copenhagen summit, rich nations undertook to "mobilising jointly" $100bn per year by 2020 to help poorer countries cope with climate change. Funding would come from a wide range of sources, public and private.

Developing countries say they need about another $60bn between now and 2015 to deal with an increase in droughts, floods, rising seas and storms.

The United States and European Union, citing budget constraints, refused to put concrete figures on the table for 2013-2020 at last year's talks.

A Green Climate Fund agreed at the Durban conference to spearhead funding to combat climate change, still has no money.

Climate damage

New and divisive, this issue entails covering loss and damage suffered by poor countries from climate change, and possibly building an insurance mechanism for future losses.

The issue nearly scuppered last year's UN negotiations in Doha, Qatar, with countries led by the United States fearing an open-ended liability for compensation.

The Doha meeting agreed to put in place "institutional arrangements" for loss and damage in Warsaw.


Another hotly-contested issue, with repercussions that can go beyond the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Decisions at a UNFCCC plenary, known as a Conference of the Parties, or COP, are typically approved on the basis of "consensus", a fuzzy notion that implies common resolve but not unanimity.

Russia is incensed at the way the chairperson of last year's marathon meeting in Doha gavelled through a decision to extend the international Kyoto Protocol on climate change despite Moscow's fierce opposition.

Read more on:    un  |  unfccc  |  climate change
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