Warsaw Climate Summit Yields Modest Deal on Emissions Announcements, Loss and Damage

The U.N. climate summit in Warsaw, Poland, came to a close over the weekend with a deal that continues to delay major action on global warming. Countries agreed to a deadline of early 2015 for publishing their targets for cutting emissions by the year 2020. Those targets will then be used to hammer out a global accord at the end of 2015 when the U.N. climate summit is held in France. The United Nations’ top climate official, Christiana Figueres, said unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the next global climate deal should include emissions cuts from developing countries.

Christiana Figueres "What I think is very important is to realize that what remains unchanged is the fact that industrialized countries with a larger historical responsibility must take the lead. But that doesn’t mean that everybody else is off the hook. The fact is that every single country, small or large, every single sector, every single city, has to contribute, because otherwise we’re not going to be able to change the trajectory of greenhouse gases."

Critics of the current road map for 2015 say it will let the world’s biggest polluters set insufficient cuts. Warsaw also saw the establishment of a new "loss and damage" mechanism to deliver aid to countries impacted by climate change. But the world’s biggest polluters, including the United States, continued to reject demands that such aid be deemed compensation for their record emissions. Looking ahead to 2015, the U.S. climate envoy, Todd Stern, said the talks face a continued divide between developed and developing nations.

Todd Stern: "As countries think forward about what might happen in Paris, there were some quite clear differences about — in the way that different countries conceive of the structure of an agreement, and in particular with respect to the classic kind of developed-developing country divide."

The Warsaw climate summit saw an unprecedented walkout of both developing countries and dozens of environmental and civil society groups in protest of rich countries’ alleged inaction. In a statement, the group Friends of the Earth said: "The only success of the dirtiest climate conference on record is the fact that civil society walked out and started a domino effect already reaching our home countries, where ordinary citizens are joining the struggle for climate justice."

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