The 19th Conference of the Parties (COP 19) - Daily Alerts

This post was written by Peter Zaman, Pryderi Diebschlag, and Felix Attafuah

A European team of Reed Smith lawyers presented a series of daily alerts from COP 19 which was held from 11 to 22 November 2013 in Warsaw, Poland. An abstract of each alert is set out below, please click the links to read the full entries.

Setting Expectations - The 19th Conference of the Parties (“COP”) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the “Convention”) opens today at the National Stadium in Warsaw, the Republic of Poland. For those who recall COP 14 in Poznań just before the Copenhagen COP, many will feel a strong sense of déjà vu as this COP also is one that is leading up to a more significant COP in Paris in 2015.

Day 1 - The Conference opened yesterday in Warsaw with speeches by the newly elected President of COP 19/CMP 9, His Excellency Marcin Korolec (Poland’s Environment Minister), and Ms. Christiana Figueres (Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC). Cutting through the usual soundbites, a poignant statement was made by the Philippines’ Climate Commissioner, Naderev Sano, who told the Conference that, in light of the destruction caused by typhoon Haiyan, he "will voluntarily refrain from eating food (during the conference) until a meaningful outcome is in sight".

Day 2 - Having completed the formalities of COP 19 on Day 1, Day 2 opened with a plenary meeting of the AWG-DP. Through the course of the day, contact groups, informal consultations, workshops and other events convened under the AWG-DP, SBI and SBSTA. This alert covers some of the issues discussed at these meetings.

Day 3 - Day 3 continued where day 2 left off, with more meetings, contact groups, informal discussions, workshops and other events taking place under the COP, AWG-DP, SBSTA and SBI. Poland’s decision to host a coal industry summit next week on the side lines of COP 19/CMP 9 has put the United Nations in a quandary. One of the purposes of COP 19/CMP 9 is to provide parties with a platform to discuss processes for slowing global warming (usually with a focus on phasing out fossil fuels like coal in favour of renewable energies like solar or wind power). Instead, the focus next week will also be on coal as Poland (a country that generates 90 percent of its electricity from coal) tries to engage COP 19/CMP 9 on a coal debate.

Day 4 - Frantic meeting schedules continued at the Conference against the back drop of news that Japan will announce a reduction in its 2020 greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions target. Japan is expected to announce today that it will now target a 2020 emissions reduction of 3.8 per cent from its 2005 emissions levels. This new target is in stark contrast to Japan’s previous target of achieving a 25 per cent reduction from its 1990 levels. Furthermore, under the Kyoto Protocol (which Japan has subsequently opted out of), Japan pledged to cut GHGs emissions by 6 per cent a year on average over a five-year period to March 2013. In anticipation of this announcement by Japan, China has been most vocal, with the Chinese lead negotiator expressing his "deep concern" and "dismay".

Day 5, 6 and 7 - As expected, Japan duly announced its intention to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 3.8% (from 2005 levels) by 2020. By comparison to Japan’s earlier goal of a 25% reduction from 1990 levels by 2020, this new target allows a 3.1% increase in emissions from 1990 levels. Friday’s meetings continued the trend of informal consultations and contacts groups, slowing striving towards substantive progress. The closure of the 39th SBSTA and SBI meetings, and the associated closing plenaries, provided an excellent opportunity to assess precisely how much or how little substantive progress has been achieved thus far.

Day 8 - The second week of the conference began with the COP President calling an informal stocktaking session, aiming to unite and focus the parties ahead of a week of hopefully more productive negotiations as the ministers begin to arrive. Simultaneously, the closing plenary session of the SBI reconvened, determined to conclude its meeting after a long weekend of negotiations.

Day 9 - Tuesday saw the opening ceremony of the high-level segment at COP 19 and CMP 9. As is customary, the curtain raiser began with numerous statements from a variety of heads of state and government ministers. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon set out a number of key objectives for the parties in Warsaw which were substantially echoed by UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. These include promoting the ratification of the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, increasing ambition levels across mitigation, adaptation and finance, and paving a route forward for an agreement in 2015.

Day 10 -The high-level ministerial discussions continued on Wednesday with a focus on trying to reach a consensus as to scaling up finance to the "magic number"of US$100 billion per year by 2020.The usual array of contact groups, informal consultations and meetings under the COP, CMP and AWG-DP workstreams continued throughout the day, culminating in the COP/CMP President convening another informal stocktaking plenary in the evening.

 

Day 11 - The focus of Thursday’s high-level ministerial discussions turned to the Durban Platform and sought to capitalise on the common ground that was established yesterday in the AWG-DP. As before, the array of contact groups, informal consultations and meetings under the COP, CMP and AWG-DP workstreams continued throughout the day, culminating in the COP/CMP President convening another informal stocktaking plenary session in the evening.

 

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