A difficult road to Climate Justice after Warsaw Climate Summit
All countries must urgently work together in a spirit of solidarity to put the world on the right track: a path to decarbonised societies and climate justice for all.
Sadly, the climate negotiations at the COP19 in Warsaw in November 2013 did not opt for an ambitious way towards a global agreement in 2015, and more will be needed to reach a fair, binding climate deal at the COP21 in Paris.
Warsaw was supposed to be the “finance COP” by delivering milestones towards the $100 billion per year by 2020 to support developing countries’ adaptation and mitigation efforts. Not enough progress has been made towards achieving that goal. Pledges were made to save the adaptation fund, and some commitments on fossil fuels were taken, such as the UK government stepping out from using public money to fund coal plants overseas. But overall there is no clarity on the money available from now to 2020 to protect the most vulnerable people who are already suffering violent climate impacts.
Warsaw was also a crucial moment for countries to agree on a roadmap to reach a satisfactory agreement in Paris in 2015, including early milestones to design post-2020 commitments that are adequate to science and equity indicators to ensure the deal is fair to all countries. The roadmap coming out of Warsaw is unfortunately not providing the steps needed to build solid foundations for this global agreement, as it only opted for a late date for parties to put their contributions on the table, instead of making early commitments.
Finally, the structure of a mechanism to address climate loss and damages was agreed, but needs to be filled with content. Unfortunately, the need for such a mechanism, beyond those of mitigation and adaptation, was starkly clear during the COP19, as typhoon Haiyan smashed into the Philippines. “The storm dramatically reminded us that climate change already today puts people at risk. It is an urgent call on all people of good will to show solidarity and to reduce their CO2-emissions as well as on governments to fulfil their responsibilities and commitments towards the international community, first and foremost to the most vulnerable people that are currently suffering violent climate impacts. International solidarity and adequate climate policies are the only valid options,” said CIDSE Secretary General Bernd Nilles.
Bishop Theotonius Gomes from Bangladesh spoke passionately on the burden of climate change in his country: “My people have great dignity, but also face great suffering. Climate change is already adding needlessly to that suffering,” he said at a conference co-organised by CIDSE, Caritas Poland and the Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw at the time of the COP19. The Holy See representative to Poland, Head of the Holy See Delegation to the COP19, Nuncio and Archbishop Celestino Migliore, opened the conference with an inspired plea: “Climate change is an ethical challenge for our civilization, asking us what changes we need to affect in our economic life, in the structures of our society and in the way we consume.”
A large delegation of CIDSE member and partner organisations from Latin America, Africa and Asia also attended the COP. The CIDSE delegation sent a strong call to the Polish government and Polish civil society on the need to step out of a fossil fuelled economy towards a low carbon society.
With results of the COP in Warsaw being meagre, CIDSE now turns its attention on the upcoming steps: COP20 in Peru and COP21 in Paris. Emilie Johann, CIDSE Policy and Advocacy Officer for Climate Justice, reminds the European Union of its historical task. “More needs to be done to ramp up mitigation ambition by 2020 and thus increase the chance of staying below 2°C. That is clear. We also need ambitious 2030 pledges for the EU, putting us on a way to at least 55% domestic emissions reductions and strong binding targets for energy efficiency and renewables,” she said, adding that “the upcoming negotiations on the EU climate and energy package by next spring must become a relevant step on the road to Lima and Paris.”
More generally all countries need to do their homework now and take the most ambitious way to the global deal, if not we may lose the opportunity to see a global agreement able to deliver climate justice in Paris. As CIDSE partner Sabine Attama from Niger (SECAM) said, “we will continue to give a voice to the voiceless in that process”.