Figueres calls for finance pledges, and progress in tackling climate losses at Warsaw conference

Figueres calls for finance pledges, and progress in tackling climate losses at Warsaw conference

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Date: 22nd October 2013
Author: CDKN Global
Type: News
Organisations: Chatham House, UNFCCC
Tags: climate finance, climate negotiations, disaster risk reduction, private sector, UNFCCC

CDKN’s Mairi Dupar reports the key points of a landmark address by Christiana Figueres in London, which looked forward to next month’s global climate negotiations in Poland.


The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has given leaders the certainty they need to act on climate change – and there is no room for further delay in sealing an international climate deal. That was the message from Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), speaking at Chatham House, London, yesterday.

Ms Figueres outlined the tough steps that political leaders will need to take. At UNFCCC climate talks in Warsaw, Poland next month, negotiators must cement the building blocks for the next high-level conference in Lima, Peru in 2014. A draft global treaty must be on the table in Lima, which can be finalised and signed at the Paris conference in 2015. Paris marks the deadline by which governments have pledged to sign a comprehensive deal to tackle climate change.

Speaking under the Chatham House rule, a senior policy-maker involved in the UN process reported that Polish, Peruvian and French governments are working together on the political roadmap to 2015: each will seek to build on the achievements of the last. They are working to the assumption that any global deal must: “involve all countries; be straightforward and smart; and be ratifiable by all 194 countries,” he said.

Farhana Yamin, an Associate at Chatham House, was clear that for any new agreement to be worthwhile, it must create a legal requirement for countries to cut emissions. “There is no legal commitment in the UNFCCC for signing up to emissions reductions. The big test for the new agreement is whether it plugs that gap. And whether it is secure from the everyday ping pong [of politics],” she said.

The task for negotiators in Warsaw

Ms Figueres challenged climate negotiators in Warsaw to make progress on three fronts:

(1) Climate finance. Four years ago, Parties to the UNFCCC pledged to deliver climate finance of $100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries strengthen their climate resilience and pursue low carbon development opportunities. They also put in motion the creation of the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF will be an important vehicle (although not the only one) for disbursing these funds. In the coming year, the GCF is set to become operational, which means, Ms Figueres said, it needs financial pledges from donor governments to make it viable. “The Board is getting ready for initial capitalisation early in the next year: this must de-risk and leverage the rest of the funding that needs to come in…from the private sector,” she said. The $100 billion proposed, she added, is only a fraction of the funds that developing countries really need to meet the climate challenge: “we know the financing we need is $1 trillion per year,” she said. However, used effectively, commitments of public funding through the GCF can be the “tail that wags the dog” and “it will take the dog and point it in the direction we must move” she said, which is toward massive foreign direct investment in green technologies in the global South.

(2) Loss and damage. Given the heavy, negative impacts of climate change on the world’s poor today, governments need to look “more and more seriously” at the issue of climate-related loss and damage, said Ms Figueres. This means building on a starting decision made at last year’s CoP18 in Doha, Qatar, to figure out how an international mechanism to address loss and damage could work.

(3) The Durban Platform (or ‘ADP’ – the negotiations track building towards the global deal in 2015). Warsaw is the moment when governments must decide the components of the draft agreement countries will consider in Lima, Ms Figueres said. They must leave Warsaw “knowing they should finish [their] homework” so that they are next year in a position state their national contribution to the solution. Warsaw will also be an important moment to decide how the formal governmental process links to “the other actions, activities, initiatives, successes and failures that are going outside of the formal process.”

Bringing business into the formal process

The Warsaw meeting will be different from previous conferences because, for the first time, it is bringing business leaders into the formal process. Businesses have been on the road of “progressive recognition in the formal process,” said Ms Figueres. "That is where the capital is and the cutting edge technology is or will be.”

A pre-CoP19 meeting among government and business leaders has already taken place in early October in Poland (see the official statement by the incoming CoP19 president, Polish Environment Minister Marcin Korolec, following the government and business pre-meeting).

What’s critical about business involvement is linking their efforts systematically to the formal, government process, according to Laurence Tubiana, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations. If businesses and others, such as city leaders, come forward and announce a mass of voluntary initiatives in a kind of ‘free for all’, the outcomes will be neither sufficiently ambitious, nor sufficiently funded, she said. To avoid such a lost opportunity, a ‘solutions platform’ is needed to marry donor and investor financing, and political appetite, with the solutions offered by innovators.

Equity: the bottom line

Along with the inclusion of business in setting ambition and pledging action, there’s one more vital ingredient to the Warsaw talks, concluded Ms Figueres. That ingredient is equity. Getting the world on track to agree an inclusive climate deal in 2015 is, itself, a question of equity: “The grossest inequity would be to not have a global deal,” she said. “That would be the worst inequity because developing countries are paying the worst price and will incrementally continue to pay the price [of climate impacts]”. And furthermore, there has to be equity in the way any global deal is constructed. The exact contours are still to be agreed, she said, and countries are weighing their different vulnerabilities and capacities to contribute to the solution. However, equity is the “golden thread that will run through the whole. Every country will have to decide: is this [evolving deal] equitable for me?”
Photo courtesy of Kinga Lodge, PWC

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