Thursday, November 14, 2013

High Expectations at UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw

By Elias Ntungwe Ngalame in Warsaw

  The UN Climate change conference began on Monday November 11, 2013 with calls for governments to harness the strong groundswell of action on climate change across all levels including, business and society and make real progress here towards a successful, global climate change agreement in 2015.

The newly elected President of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19/CMP9), H. E. Marcin Korolec, Poland's Environment Minister, in his opening address pointed out that climate change is a global problem that must be turned further into a global opportunity.

"It's a problem if we can't coordinate our actions. It becomes opportunity where we can act together. One country or even a group cannot make a difference. But acting together, united as we are here, we can do it," he said.

In her opening speech at the Warsaw National Stadium, the venue of COP 19,Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, called on delegates to "win the Warsaw opportunity" in order to safeguard present and future generations.

"We must stay focused, exert maximum effort for the full time and produce a positive result, because what happens in this stadium is not a game. There are not two sides, but the whole of humanity. There are no winners and losers, we all either win or lose in the future we make for ourselves."

Figueres pointed to the sobering realities of climate change and the rise in extreme events that climate science has long predicted, including the devastating Typhoon Haiyan that just hit the Philippines, one of the most powerful typhoons ever to make landfall.
  Highlighting the key areas in which COP 19 can make progress, Figueres said.
"We must clarify finance that enables the entire world to move towards low-carbon development. We must launch the construction of a mechanism that helps vulnerable populations to respond to the unanticipated effects of climate change. We must deliver an effective path to pre-2020 ambition, and develop further clarity for elements of the new agreement that will shape the post-2020 global climate, economic and development agendas".

In addition, the meeting in Warsaw she said will focus on decisions that will make fully operational the new institutional support under the UNFCCC for developing nations in finance, adaptation and technology. These are the Green Climate Fund, the Technology Mechanism and the Adaptation Committee,all agreed in Cancun in 2010.

She stressed the fact that the meeting in Warsaw is taking place against the background of growing awareness that climate change is real and accelerating, and the growing willingness of people, businesses and governments to take climate action, at all levels of society and policy.

"There is a groundswell of climate action, not only for environmental reasons, but also for security, energy, economic and governance reasons, Figueres said.’’

Political will and public support favour action now. A new universal climate agreement is within our reach. Agencies, development banks, investors and sub-national governments are on board. The science from the IPCC is clear. Parties can lead the momentum for change and move together towards success in 2015."

In order to showcase the growing climate leadership and contributions to the climate challenge from all sides, a Business Forum organized by the UN and the Polish host government will take place next week alongside the meeting. Cities and regions will gather for the first ever "Cities Day" that highlights their actions. And a Gender Day will showcase women's role in meeting the climate challenge.

 The UNFCCC secretariat it was revealed will showcase Momentum for Change lighthouse activities, climate action that demonstrates positive results for innovative finance, women and the urban poor.
In addition, the initiative will launch a new area that focuses on contributions by the information and technology sector to curb emissions and increase adaptive capacity to respond.

Meanwhile African civil society organisations at the climate change talks have called for immediate fulfilment of financial engagement by Anex1 countries to enable vulnerable poor
African countries meet climate impact challenges.

 The various African groups at the climate debate conference emphasized that it is only by providing adequate finance now that developed countries will demonstrate in measurable terms their commitment to action and clear departure from mere promises in past conferences to pointed and measured implementation in Warsaw.
‘’Climate-vulnerable least developed countries need increased finances to adapt to the impacts of climate change. How will these resource-poor countries adapt without the necessary funds in place, ‘’ questioned Mithika Mwenda secretary general of the Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance, PACJA in a paper on the African position presented at a press conference  in the climate change debate.

‘’We demand that developed countries fulfil and implement their commitments under the UN climate convention, in order to fairly share the necessary ‘emissions budget’, and avoid catastrophic climate change impact,  Mithika Mwenda said.

Other group leaders from the continent corroborated PACJA, pointing out that Africa along with other poor countries are the most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change globally.

‘’ We have just listened and watched with horror what has happened in the Philippines, and we know that similar impacts of climate change are ravaging many other countries in Africa with attendant loss of lives, properties and means of livelihood  eroded on a daily basis. Heavy floods in the Far North region of Cameroon in 2012 for example, claimed over 250 lives, leaving families and the government helpless,” Augustin Njamnshi of the Bio-resource and Conservation Development Programme one of the civil society organizations from Cameroon at the COP 19 conference told PAMACC newsbloc.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw (11 to 22 November) is currently being attended by government delegates, representatives from business and industry, environmental organizations, research institutions and the media among which is a delegation of PAMACC.

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