Heading for Warsaw

On the eve of the UN Conference of Climate Change (COP-19) in Warsaw, experts are divided in their opinions - some are very skeptical and do not hope for any results, others are optimistic. Representatives of environmental organizations are sure that "Warsaw must become a turning point in the negotiations. It is high time to move from words to actions."

According to news reports, Poland restores borders with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania for the time of the climate conference, explaining it by the need to provide security for COP-19 participants. "Protection" of delegates is the matter of global importance - the Parties need to develop a foundation for a future agreement on reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, which, without exaggeration, will influence the future of the planet.

The new climate document shall replace the Kyoto Protocol. Signing the agreement on climate is planned for 2015 and is to be held in Paris. Warsaw has a significant role in the process of preparing the document. The conference in the Polish capital must result in the complete "road map" of the agreement.

Ideally, the list of key elements should be defined, the list of its main articles and annexes. Countries shall start formal negotiations on the "architecture" of the new agreement, that is - its general construction and the legal form. Representatives of the countries have to "reserve" the spaces for numerical parameters: the long-term perspective - the goals of the world community, and to determine the total emission targets for each country. The new agreement shall give a place for individual targets for countries in 2020 - 2030 and strategies for further complete "decarbonization" of the economy in the period up to 2050.

One of the important issues of the upcoming conference is to achieve greater certainty in the emission targets by 2020. Countries, especially developed ones, shall strengthen their targets on greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Developing countries that have not yet submitted their proposals must do it in Warsaw.

At the moment, all the major emitters of greenhouse gases have given their quantitative proposals for the period till 2020. Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, South Korea, and Mexico also submitted such proposals to reduce specific emissions per unit of GDP by 2020, which actually leads to stabilization of their emissions in absolute terms. However, carbon giants - China and India - although also filed serious proposals to reduce the carbon intensity each year by 3 % and 2 %, respectively, by 2020, do not promise to stop the growth of their emissions. As for Russia, although it refused to participate in the second period of the Kyoto Protocol, it promises to reduce its emissions by 15-25 % from 1990 levels. Incidentally, it is 5 % of the global emissions.

The question of responsibility for emissions and reductions is the most controversial moment of the negotiations. None of the big countries is willing to ensure that its emission commitments are set outside. Countries argue for independent decision-making on their emissions relevant to specific features of national economy, the level and way of life, climate, etc. A compromise will not be found easily.

During the second half of the Conference, the ministerial segment of the political level will be held, designed to find solutions on key issues on which delegations are unable to come to a consensus. It is expected to be the "key" to advance in some areas.

Experts do not deny that the situation similar to that observed at the Bonn session in June of this year can happen in making the agenda of the Conference. Then developing countries were opposed to inclusion in the agenda of the review of the procedure rules proposed by Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and it completely blocked the work of one of the working groups. Now the same issue is on the agenda of the Conference as a body responsible for organizing the work of the UNFCCC. Alternatively, experts predict that the procedure rules will be included in the agenda in some form or another, a working group will be formed, but no meaningful decisions will likely be made. Most observers hope that there will be no "blockade" at this time.

Developing countries wait from Warsaw for more certainty on climate finance. Developed countries shall commit to dedicate at least $ 300 million for the Adaptation Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund, funding adaptation projects in developing countries.

Discussion of an international mechanism for damages and compensation that may become part of the new agreement will be a complex and innovative point of Warsaw. The work on development of this mechanism has to be carried out in the Polish capital. Now donors help on a voluntary basis in cases of climate-related natural disasters (droughts, floods, hurricanes, etc.). In the future, under certain conditions of "loss and damage", payments become mandatory. Donor countries shall actually turn into insurers.

According to some experts, the Conference in Warsaw (and the next one - in Peru) plays the role of an intermediate and preparatory one. However, given the extreme slowness of the overall process, representatives of environmental organizations are waiting for a breakthrough from Warsaw. They believe that the event of this year should be the turning point in the negotiations. The Parties to the climate process shall do quite a bit: take clear and effective decisions leading to a rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and help the most weak and vulnerable ones.