The final day at Warsaw - PwC team react to the key decisions at COP19

23 November 2013

The outcome to establish the Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage is a landmark for the Summit, says Dr Celine Herweijer, but "the ‘talks about talks’ phase is now over" adds Jonathan Grant, from the PwC climate change team.

Dr Celine Herweijer, partner, PwC sustainability and climate change:

“We’re walking away with a timeline for all countries to make their pledges on emissions reduction meaning a global binding deal for all in 2015 still stands.  That’s a relief. The question now is how will this process be policed and driven. There’s no slack in the planet’s system to allow this to drift or not to work. “

Loss and damage
The outcome to establish the Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage is a landmark for the Summit.

After the headlines around Loss & Damage at last year's summit it was always going to be key issue again in Warsaw. Rescued from collapse in the dying minutes of the negotiations, the new mechanism was approved. 

The stand-off was whether this mechanism sits “under” Adaptation, or is separate. It might seem like semantics, but the most vulnerable nations say there is no way to adapt to loss of life and land; they are right. The word “under” may have also implied no new finance, again a sticky point.

What we do have is a new international mechanism focused on addressing gaps in knowledge and implementation around managing the risks associated with extreme events and slow onset events such as sea-level rise and coastal inundation.

But the contentious point on finance for the mechanism, or even more so for compensation for the impacts of these events, is not explicitly addressed. That is really where the real contention exists and parties on both sides - the highest polluters and the vulnerable nations - feel they have potentially a lot to lose. It’s no surprise there is no resolution yet on this point. That said it is not a point that will disappear.”

Finance
We’ve had a few ad-hoc pledges of finance as expected but what developing countries are looking for is some tangible gearing up of finance before 2020. Too many believe the foot has been taken off the pedal since the fast start period of finance ended in 2012. Interim targets for 2016 were asked for and not forthcoming.  This is another area where ambition has to ramp up if the 2020 / $100bn is to be met. Otherwise we’re only at the spare change end of what’s needed.

Warsaw wobbles

Jonathan Grant, director, PwC sustainability & climate change:

By taking us to the brink of collapse, looking over the edge and then pulling back, we come away feeling delighted that any progress has been made at all. A victory was always expected, but like the England football team, the COP made this a lot more dramatic than it needed to be.  The ‘talks about talks’ phase is now over, as countries agreed the agenda for the negotiations and the timeline for coming up with some numbers. With the increasing complexity of these summits now, there are a host of decisions, on finance, loss and damage, and the carbon markets that will take time to digest.

On ADP:
ADP almost unravelled today, but hope of a deal rests on resolving the issues at the heart of some of those fractious rows – financing, timetabling and review.

Getting agreement on emissions reductions targets from developing and developed nations means first doing the analysis and understanding what emissions pathway is possible. Some developing countries called for financial and technical support to do this analysis. Developed countries wanted the ADP negotiations to respect their existing national timetables for setting targets for emissions reductions.  But a March 2015 deadline should give most major economies enough time to propose an emissions number.

It’s likely that in the six months before Paris countries will review those targets and consider how to ratchet up the collective ambition in a way that is fair.  And they will need to do this in a way that is analytically rigorous – some seasoned negotiators in Warsaw suggested this morning that numbers were plucked out of thin air at Kyoto and the lack of realism in those targets subsequently led to problems with implementation.  At COP21 it is more than just the developed countries proposing targets.  Previous experience, at Kyoto, show what a painful process it will be, and the next ADP session in Bonn won’t be an easy session.

And where do we go from here?
Dr Celine Herweijer, partner, PwC sustainability and climate change says "A lot of hope is now being pinned on the UN Climate Change Leaders’ Summit that Ban Ki Moon has called for next September in New York.

We have to be realistic about how much can be achieved there. It could be a trap to think the leader's summit will resolve issues that five COPs since 2009 haven't. We need to see action at national levels in the first half of next year, a demonstration of intent and ambition from our nations’ leaders in September, and real action in Lima. Expectations will be high next year, and the world will be watching.

For media enquiries, contact Rowena Mearley + 44 7841 563 180.