Jamaica buoyed by results of Warsaw climate talks

Published: Friday | December 20, 2013 Comments 0

Petre Williams-Raynor, Contributing Editor

JAMAICA HAS come away from the Warsaw Talks inspired to press ahead with global efforts to achieve a universal climate agreement by 2015.

"Warsaw may not have concluded to the best of everybody's expectations, but it did deliver on the three key objectives," senior negotiator Clifford Mahlung told The Gleaner earlier this month.

He said they include the establishment of an international mechanism on loss and damage that affords vulnerable countries protection from climate-related extreme weather events.

"An expert was identified to develop a two-year work programme, and an executive committee will be formed next year in Peru, in Lima, that will guide the process of developing the modalities and procedures for the mechanism," Mahlung noted.

"This crowns work that started over 20 years ago by the Alliance of Small Island States [of which Jamaica is a member] for an instrument to address losses from extreme events and slow-onset events. We see this really as a step in the right direction," he added.

Fuelled by Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines ahead of the talks, developing countries fought hard for the loss and damage mechanism - despite fierce opposition from some developed nations at times.

The mechanism is established under the Cancun Adaptation Framework, which was a compromise by developing countries who do not want funding for adaptation confused with financing for loss and damage.

However, Mahlung said, "this structure will be reviewed in another three years with a view to bringing the mechanism under the authority of the COP [Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)]".

Another important objective realised was progress on the ADP or Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, whose work is to develop a new climate-change agreement applicable to all parties [to the UNFCCC] by 2015, to come into effect by 2020.

"Decisions were taken, particularly for countries to start developing areas of mitigation action that will develop into commitments that will be applicable to all in the 2015 agreement as well as to ensure that, some time next year, a negotiating text will be produced," Mahlung explained.

There were also decisions made on finance.

"The budget was [also] passed with the contributions of countries increased [though] marginally, mind you. Germany came forward with US$100 million to help bring some relief to some projects under the Adaptation Fund, so it will clear the pipeline until the price of CERs (certified emission reduction credits) become a bit better," he said.

Meanwhile, it was not until a day after the two weeks of talks officially ended on November 22 that parties were able to tie up the deal.

"At some points, it looked like everything could have fallen apart. We have to extend our heartiest congratulations to the Polish president [of the talks] and his staff. It reassures us that countries are willing to unite and do what is right. We hope that this spirit will continue through [to the] Lima [talks next year] and into Paris in 2015," he said.

Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Christiana Figueres has said while there has been "essential progress" from the talks, there is still some way to go towards realising a 2015 agreement.

"We are witnessing ever more frequent, extreme weather events and the poor and vulnerable are already paying the price," she said. "Now governments, and especially developed nations, must go back to do their homework so they can put their plans on the table ahead of the Paris conference."



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