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Warsaw Climate Change Conference

Volume 571: debated on Thursday 28 November 2013

The annual conference of the parties (COP) to the United Nations framework convention on climate change took place in Warsaw, Poland, from 11-23 November. The United Kingdom was represented by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and the Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, the right hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker).

What we agreed

All countries in the United Nations framework convention on climate change committed at Durban in 2011 to negotiate, by 2015, a new global, legally binding agreement, applicable to all nations, to come into force by 2020.

The UK’s key objective for the Warsaw conference was to make progress in agreeing the means by which this 2015 deal will be reached. We achieved this objective: all nations have agreed to start their homework to prepare for a global climate change deal in 2015.

The world now has a work programme, with timetables, for the 2015 deal: countries will draft the negotiating text for the 2015 agreement which is to be ready by next year’s COP in Lima; and all major economies will be expected to propose their initial contributions to the deal by the first quarter of 2015.

In addition, we made some progress on increasing mitigation ambition before 2020: the conference set out a process to focus on specific sectors of high mitigation potential and increase technical analysis. It agreed that Ministers from all countries, not just parties to the Kyoto protocol, will convene in June 2014 to review ambition.

This was also a conference that dealt with the important mechanics of the international climate regime and continued to build the foundations for the global agreement in 2015.

We finalised a package on rules, finance and co-ordination to help protect tropical forests. We also reached agreement on a comprehensive package for measuring, reporting and verifying emissions for both developed and developing countries. This is important, as it will give us an accurate, consistent picture of how much is emitted and by whom.

Climate finance and loss and damage

Climate finance and loss and damage associated with climate change were the other key issues in Warsaw.

On finance, this year’s conference agreed a timetable towards initial capitalisation of the green climate fund (GCF) in late 2014, subject to the GCF board taking the final decisions to operationalise the fund, and a new process for assessing progress in scaling up climate finance to $100 billion per year by 2020 from public, private and alternative sources.

The conference established a new institutional arrangement for loss and damage— the “Warsaw Mechanism”, with a remit to enhance and promote knowledge of and approaches to addressing loss and damage. It does not have decision-making powers or a remit to seek new funding. It will report to the annual climate conference and comprise finance, adaptation and technology experts. It will be reviewed in 2016.

Overall assessment

The agreements we reached in Warsaw are important in setting out the next steps towards the 2015 agreement and in building and strengthening the architecture of the international climate regime.

We achieved a good result in Warsaw by demonstrating again the UK’s credentials on climate. The UK continued its strong record of leading on climate change action: demonstrating our ambition at home, our support to developing countries and our leading influence in the EU and with international partners.

We joined the United States in their policy of ending support for public financing of new coal-fired power plants overseas, we announced extra help for some of the world’s poorest to adapt to the impacts of climate change and we unveiled a major new package of support for tackling deforestation in partnership with the US, Germany and Norway.

Next year

While the long negotiations in Poland showed there are many tough talks ahead of us, the determined diplomacy of the UK and EU achieved our aims, building alliances with our friends across the world.

Looking ahead, 2014 will be an intensive year of negotiations, with negotiators developing a framework for the new agreement by COP20—in Lima, Peru—and major economies preparing their contributions to the new deal for submission in early 2015.

Importantly, the UN Secretary-General will host a leaders’ summit in 2014. This will be the first time that world leaders meet to discuss climate change specifically since Copenhagen. This will be an important opportunity to make further concrete progress towards the global deal in 2015 and in raising mitigation ambition.