Here’s What We Should Focus on in Warsaw

A new CAP issue brief looks at the U.N. climate negotiations in Warsaw, Poland.

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From November 11 to November 22, the annual Conference of the Parties, or COP, to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, is being held in Warsaw, Poland. The parties will begin developing a new global agreement to be finalized in 2015 and will discuss how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, the year the agreement will take effect. The success of these negotiations will hinge on navigation around controversial areas such as finance and the issue of loss and damage. A new CAP issue brief examines what is on the line for the safety of our planet and what elements we should watch for in Warsaw.

While a final agreement on the legal form of the new climate agreement will not be reached for some time, it will be an important topic of discussion in Warsaw. The 2012 Durban Platform—the final outcome of the 2012 COP in South Africa—represented a breakthrough in the UNFCCC process: For the first time, the parties accepted that a global climate agreement should be applicable to all parties to the UNFCCC. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol is the world’s only legally binding agreement on emissions reductions, but it covers only about 14 percent of global emissions and requires greenhouse gas emissions reductions from only a small number of developed countries. The 2007 Long-term Cooperative Action, or LCA, track gave rise to the 2009 Copenhagen Accord and the 2010 Cancun Agreements, which stimulated mitigation pledges to cover 80 percent of global emissions, but these pledges are not legally binding. Looking forward, countries must build up from these two processes to ensure the broadest and most ambitious level of participation possible. Obligations must be flexible, allowing for varying commitments by countries at varying stages of development.

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