Almost a month post the 19th Conference Of the Parties (COP) and I’m not sure if my glass is half empty or half full...
It’s a glass half empty when I recall the Philipino delegate’s speech. Or when Australia and Canada decided not to contribute to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) or Japan decided to weaken its 2020 emissions target.
Yet it’s a glass half full when I remember arriving in Warsaw with low expectations but left feeling that businesses are aware of climate change performance risks and are addressing them. So the 19th COP of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – which took place between 11 and 22 November – certainly left me with mixed feelings. I’m sad that nations were again slow in responding to one of the greatest challenges of our times.
Work to do
The Warsaw COP achieved the additional outcomes needed to develop the process. There is now a 2015 climate deal roadmap but it leaves nations with much hard work over the next two years.
Nations were asked to prepare and submit ‘national offers’ to reduce emissions in the first quarter of 2015. This will give us all plenty of time to review and analyse these offers and determine how serious they are in addressing climate change.
This decision increases the potential of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). I expect NAMAs will now climb fast the domestic and international climate change agenda. The NAMA facility - a joint initiative by UK and Germany which has committed 70 million Euros to NAMA implementation – has been successful. It leaves me thinking that more NAMAs will be developed in 2014 with formal links to multilateral funding channels and increasingly attracting business community interest.
Climate finance decisions
This COP also saw key decisions on climate finance. However, much more needs to be done to organize finance sufficiently to help developing nations address climate change. One key agreement reached was to ‘operationalize’ the GCF. But an agreement (possibly the most important one) on initial capitalisation of the fund was not reached. This sets a challenge to the GCF to complete its design work and have a plan for initial funding by COP 20 in Peru next year.
This COP also put strong emphasis on the private sector and its role in implementing and developing solutions to deliver climate resilience and reduce emissions. I had discussions with several people from the business community and the message that came out strongly is for more clarity. Business wants policy certainty to make decisions. They will make change if the government gives the framework and creates a level playing field.
Hopes for future
Am I optimistic about the future of COP? Long experience makes me cautious but I choose to see the glass as half full.
I don’t expect the long standing deadlocks over division of responsibility for emissions cuts to be solved overnight. Whether and how richer nations will meet their promise to channel $100 billion a year by 2020 into the GCF remains to be seen. I do believe in the ability of nations and businesses to recognise climate change’s importance and their willingness to devote serious time and effort to it. We are just starting a long and potentially difficult journey of replacing Kyoto. We must succeed.