Mixed Reactions to Climate Change Talks

Mixed Reactions to Climate Change Talks

25 November 2013

published by www.thejakartaglobe.com

Indonesia — Indonesia expressed mixed reactions following the conclusion of the Climate Change talks in Warsaw, Poland which reached a consensus on the commitment to a global climate change adaptation program.

“With the conclusion we can hope that UNFCCC (The United Nation’s Framework Conference on Climate Change) can provide the opportunity for the developing countries to end our vulnerability when it comes to the climate change adaptation program,” Ari Muhammad, the Secretary Working group on Adaptation to the National Council on Climate Change (DNPI), said.

Negotiators attending the Climate change Conference held in Warsaw since Nov. 11 reached an agreement and came away with several commitment including a consensus text outlining the road to a new global warming pact to be signed in Paris by 2015.

In the Warsaw text, negotiators notably replaced the word “commitments” for nationally-determined emissions cuts, with “contributions”.

Ari said if developed countries want the developing countries to proceed with their climate change adaptation program, there must be a serious commitment from the richer countries to support their efforts.

“Developing countries and the developed countries are in dire need of support and global commitment from developed countries,” he said.

Ari said there was one pressing issue that did not find a solution during the talks.

“In adaptation, there are four main agendas — National Adaptation Plan, Lost and Damage, Nairobi Work Program and the Adaptation Committee — that we unfortunately did find an agreement in term of lost and damage,” he said.

Developing countries including Indonesia, he said, believe that an institution specifically dealing with loss and damage because of climate change must be set up while the developed countries think that such an institution will not be necessary.

“Regardless the effort to tackle the impact of climate change, loss and damage because of global warming have happened. Look at typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines or the Forest Fires in Riau,” he said.

“Developing countries perceive these issues as urgent while the developed countries don’t seem to think so,” he added.

Ari said the developed countries’ rejected the idea of a lost and damage institution because of the funding issue.

“If they objected the plan to set up a new institution to deal with lost and damage issue, the developed countries must come up with an alternative solution,” he said.

Yuyun Indradi, a forest campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia- Indonesia said despite the consensus reached during the Warsaw climate talks, activists remain pessimistic it would create a concrete action plan to reduce emission and minimize the climate change impact.

“From what I have seen, the developed countries are not taking these issues seriously, they only came up with commitments which would please everybody but will not create any significant result,” he said. Yuyun said most the previous COP also highlighted the same things but failed to come up with a verified, measured result.

“Copenhagen climate talk in 2009 for instance, managed to come up with the Copenhagen accord where countries pledged to provide $130 billion for green climate fund, but in the end it was only a commitment on a piece of paper, where has the money gone? what’s the result.”

Yuyun said the climate talks mostly resulted in a ‘buying-time policy’ which would not contribute significantly to the emission reduction efforts.

“Indonesia for instance, has been lauded as a progressive country for its efforts to reduce emissions by 26 percent. While we were ambitious enough to come up with a number where we haven’t seen the result, it certainly did not help slow down deforestation as the government has claimed,” he said.

Yuyun said Indonesia’s efforts to cut emissions with the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus (REDD+) would be pointless as long as the country did not tighten its policy regarding the palm oil plantation and coal mining.

“Unfortunately for Indonesia getting quick cash is still much more important than protecting the forest, up till now we are still one of the biggest coal exporters which contributes significantly to emissions,” he said.

The UNFCCC in Warsaw finally reached a consensus after 36 hours of non-stop haggling at the end of a fortnight of talks which observers and climate-vulnerable nations said there was not much to be happy about.

The agreements included a significant set of decisions on ways to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and the degradation of forests, which account for around one fifth of all human-generated emissions.

The Warsaw Framework for REDD+ is backed by pledges of 280 million dollars financing from the US, Norway and the UK. Rich and poor nations have been at loggerheads ever since the talks opened on Nov. 11 over who should do what to curb the march of planet warming.

In particular, they clashed over sharing responsibility for curbing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions, and about funding for vulnerable countries.

Developing nations, their growth largely powered by fossil fuel combustion, blame the West’s long emissions history for the peril facing the planet, and insist their wealthier counterparts carry a larger responsibility to fix the problem.

The West, though, insists emerging economies must do their fair share, given that China is now the world’s biggest emitter of CO2, with India in fourth place after the US and Europe.

On current emissions trends, scientists warn the Earth could face warming of 4.0 C or higher – a recipe for catastrophic storms, droughts, floods and land-gobbling sea-level rise that would affect poor countries the most.

In a breakthrough that followed an intense hour-long emergency huddle, countries agreed on a consensus text outlining the road to a new global warming pact to be signed in Paris by 2015.

These must be put forward “well in advance” of the green light.

“It took a lot of effort, you could see a lot of drama and different interests, but in the end… people saw there was a real risk that we would not manage to make the progress that we so badly needed,” said European climate envoy Connie Hedegaard.

Due to enter into effect in 2020, the Paris deal will be the first to bind all nations to curbing atmosphere-polluting greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal, oil and gas.

Countries also resolved to close the pre-2020 ambition gap by intensifying technical work and more frequent engagement of Ministers.

The conference also decided to establish an international mechanism to provide most vulnerable populations with better protection against loss and damage caused by extreme weather events and slow onset events such as rising sea levels.

Detailed work on the so-called “Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage” will begin next year. “We have seen essential progress. But let us again be clear that we are witnessing ever more frequent, extreme weather events, and the poor and vulnerable are already paying the price,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“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,” she said.

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