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Climate talks spawns raw deal for Africa


Many were once again disappointed with the outcome out of this year’s climate negotiations, but as with previous years, an agreement at the 11th hour was somehow salvaged.

Viewpoint Wisdom Mdzungairi

Desperate for the 19th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP 19) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to deliver outcomes, Poland’s diplomatic skills were put to litmus test, as heated debates continued throughout the night, we were told.

COP 19 President Marcin Korolec faced huge challenges to keep the UN climate talks from completely breaking down as major disagreements continued in the final stretch of the two-week-long international meeting.

During the first week of negotiations at COP 19, it looked like the climate talks would remain deadlocked. There was no progress on carbon mitigation and some countries, notably Japan, Canada and Australia, indicated that they were not going to meet their emissions pledges.

The overarching issue thwarting progress were disagreements between rich and poor countries. There was no progress on climate finance and the developed world all but ignored their $100 billion Copenhagen pledge. Even in light of the dire need so tragically articulated by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, there seemed to be no urgency on Loss and Damage.

There was no movement on efforts to put markets to work to combat climate change, with no progress on either the Framework for Various Approaches (FVA) or The New Market Mechanism (NMM). The only small consolation was some positive discussion in the area of technology transfer.

To make matters worse, Poland staged an international coal conference alongside the climate talks that prompted many to call COP 19 “the coal COP” and it earned Poland a “fossil of the day award.”

Environment, Water and Climate Saviour Kauskuwere was not happy either falling short of calling the whole negotiations a “damp squib”. Kasukuwere’s argument is that for two decades the world has been convening to address the climate crisis and yet in all this time “we have not produced an agreement.” It would appear that progress is only achieved at the end of each round of talks.

Speaking on behalf of G77+China, Fiji also said there was absolutely nothing to write home about at the moment.

These outcomes were also met with negative reactions from civil society, which staged a mass walkout two days before closing to express disappointment over the way the climate talks were going. The walkout highlighted the serious lack of ambition in the talks, where developed countries even backtracked on earlier commitments, while dirty energy corporations flaunted their overweening influence.

Head of International Institute for Environment and Development’s climate change group Simon Anderson says: “There is no sense from the outcomes of Warsaw that climate justice is any closer than before the COP was inaugurated. The delays in countries disclosing how they will address reducing greenhouse gas emissions continue.”

It would seem that we are moving almost inevitably to a 4C degree warmer world. Having been billed as a climate finance COP, Warsaw failed to deliver. The need for both finance and disbursal mechanisms that genuinely reflect and respond to the needs of countries and people that need to adapt and become more climate resilient become even more important. In the absence of agreement on a mid-term target and a clear pathway, poor and vulnerable countries are unable to understand how the developed countries are going to deliver the promised target of $100 billion annually by 2020.

“Anderson added: “Looking at decisions related to long-term finance, developing countries can see a few gains, but there were reassuring words and little else.”

Climate financing was another contentious issue, with rich countries yet making pledges to help developing countries cope with the impacts of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, desertification, and others. The US was adamant in blocking substantive progress in climate financing, particularly on how developed countries will make good on their promise to scale up yearly contributions to $100 billion by 2020.

It has even succeeded in having private finance be counted in as climate finance commitments.

What could have been the saving grace at the Warsaw Climate Conference, the establishment of an international mechanism on loss and damage to help countries deal with climate disasters, falls short as it failed to recognise that it goes beyond adaptation.

There is so much that needed to be accomplished if we are to have any hope of a binding deal by the 2015 deadline. For the COP process to succeed Africa need to see: — More ambitious emissions reduction targets from industrialised nations; More ambitious emissions management pledges from developing countries; Green Climate Fund part funded by developed nations and part funded by global carbon pricing mechanisms; Action on climate adaptation, technology transfer and deforestation and a loss and damage agreement.

Despite the vast amount of terrain that still needs to be covered, Africa must remain on track. Based on the idea that we need to be up against deadlines to see action, it is still possible for us to secure a global binding treaty in 2015.

millenniumzimbabwe@yahoo.com; twitter: @wisdomdzungairi

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