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Warsaw Establishes Weak but Still Workable Pathway to a Global Climate Deal

The Nature Conservancy provides closing statement from COP19 in Warsaw


Warsaw, Poland | November 23, 2013

The following is a statement by The Nature Conservancy on the final outcome of the United Nations global climate change conference taking place in Poland:

Like the sun on a November morning here in Warsaw, a tiny glimmer of light poked through the gray sky at the end of two weeks of negotiations at the 19th annual United Nations Climate Change conference. Delegates worked through the night and following day to overcome entrenched positions and salvage agreement on a roadmap to negotiating a global agreement, a new mechanism to address the loss and damage that developing countries will endure from climate change, and a pathway for scaling up climate finance to $100 billion promised by 2020.

However, this roadmap is less clear than had been hoped with murky details yet to be resolved before Paris. “We remain deeply concerned with the pace of these negotiations. The agreement lacks the sense of urgency called for by the scientific community to quickly get a handle on carbon pollution, and there is an enormous disconnect between the delays we see here and the many actions governments, communities and businesses are taking around the world to reduce emissions and manage their climate risks,” said Duncan Marsh, Director of International Climate Policy for The Nature Conservancy. “Nevertheless, despite the frustrating process of trying to find agreement, solving the climate change challenge requires participation of all major countries that can best be achieved through a global agreement.”

The outcome sets the stage for the next two years of negotiations toward a global agreement expected in 2015. A critical point in that process will be the Climate Summit for heads of state that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon will convene in September 2014,which we hope will create the political will essential for adoption of a final treaty in Paris, 2015. “Progress was much more difficult than it should have been at this conference. Countries eventually made some small steps here, but much more meaningful action is essential – quickly - to prevent the climate disruption already underway, and to address adaptation needs” added Marsh.

The biggest drama of this COP unfolded over the so called “loss and damage” issue with developing countries calling for an expansive role to not only prevent but also respond to the escalating impacts of climate change. Typhoon Haiyan that decimated the Philippines has added a sense of urgency to the need to address “loss and damage” and address post-disaster recovery. After protracted negotiation, governments agreed to establish the Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage associated with climate change impacts. “This is a milestone that reflects the growing recognition that climate change impacts are increasing significantly and can no longer be ignored.” said Imen Meliane, Director of International Adaptation Policy. “This is however a first step as many details remain to be worked out next year and we hope that the good spirit of collaboration shown by Parties to work through major differences in Warsaw will continue”.

In addition, Parties agreed to modest actions to increase resilience of vulnerable nations. Donors pledged $100 million to sustain the Adaptation Fund – far short of what is needed, but a step forward. Donors, however, failed to commit to numbers to capitalize the Green Climate Fund or agree to concrete milestones for increasing their financial contributions to reach the 100 Billion per year by 2020 promised in Copenhagen.

The sun shone brighter on efforts to fight climate change through tropical forest conservation. New rules, collectively called the Warsaw Framework for REDD+ Action, were adopted for measuring atmospheric benefits from forest conservation, and for financially rewarding such activities. These advances were complemented with additional funding, as Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany pledged $280 million to a new BioCarbon Fund facility at the World Bank.

The Nature Conservancy will continue to support Parties’ efforts on reaching a global agreement by 2015 that sets the path to avoid a temperature increase above 2 degrees Celsius, by facilitating dialogue, and proposing and sharing knowledge that could better inform their positions.


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.

Contact information

Geraldine Henrich-Koenis
The Nature Conservancy
(703) 841-1137
ghenrich-koenis@tnc.org

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