Curtain raiser

Warsaw Climate Change Conference - November 2013

The 2013 Warsaw Climate Change Conference opens today in Warsaw, Poland, and will continue until 22 November. The Conference includes the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 9th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 9). Three subsidiary bodies will also convene: the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP).

The conference will consider various agenda items related to finance, mitigation, adaptation and technology. The COP will also hear a report from the ADP concerning progress made during the second year of its mandate to develop “a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties” by 2015 to enter into force no later than 2020.


The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992, which sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has 195 parties.

In December 1997, delegates to the COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, agreed to a Protocol to the UNFCCC that committed industrialized countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve emission reduction targets. These countries, known as Annex I parties under the UNFCCC, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six GHGs by an average of 5% below 1990 levels in 2008-2012 (first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and now has 192 parties.

LONG-TERM NEGOTIATIONS IN 2005-2009: Convening in Montreal, Canada, in 2005, CMP 1 decided to establish the Ad Hoc Working Group on Annex I Parties’ Further Commitments under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) in accordance with Protocol Article 3.9, which mandated consideration of Annex I parties’ further commitments at least seven years before the end of the first commitment period. COP 11 created a process to consider long-term cooperation under the Convention through a series of four workshops known as “the Convention Dialogue.”

In December 2007, COP 13 and CMP 3 in Bali, Indonesia, resulted in agreement on the Bali Roadmap on long-term issues. COP 13 adopted the Bali Action Plan and established the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) with a mandate to focus on mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology and a shared vision for long-term cooperative action. Negotiations on Annex I parties’ further commitments continued under the AWG-KP. The deadline for concluding the two-track negotiations was in Copenhagen in 2009.

COPENHAGEN:  The UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, took place in December 2009. The high-profile event was marked by disputes over transparency and process. During the high-level segment, informal negotiations took place in a group consisting of major economies and representatives of regional and other negotiating groups. Late in the evening of 18 December these talks resulted in a political agreement: the “Copenhagen Accord,” which was then presented to the COP plenary for adoption. After 13 hours of debate, delegates ultimately agreed to “take note” of the Copenhagen Accord. In 2010, over 140 countries indicated support for the Accord. More than 80 countries also provided information on their national mitigation tarets or actions. Parties also agreed to extend the mandates of the AWG-LCA and AWG-KP until COP 16 and CMP 6 in 2010.

CANCUN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, took place in December 2010, where parties finalized the Cancun Agreements. Under the Convention track, Decision 1/CP.16 recognized the need for deep cuts in global emissions in order to limit the global average temperature rise to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Parties agreed to consider strengthening the global long-term goal during a Review by 2015, including in relation to a proposed 1.5°C target. They took note of emission reduction targets and nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) communicated by developed and developing countries, respectively. Decision 1/CP.16 also addressed other aspects of mitigation, such as: measuring, reporting and verification (MRV); and reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries (REDD+).

The Cancun Agreements also established several new institutions and processes, including the Cancun Adaptation Framework, Adaptation Committee, and the Technology Mechanism, which includes the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN). The Green Climate Fund (GCF) was created and designated as an operating entity of the Convention’s financial mechanism governed by a 24-member board. Parties agreed to set up a Transitional Committee tasked with the Fund’s design and a Standing Committee to assist the COP with respect to the financial mechanism. Parties also recognized the commitment by developed countries to provide US$30 billion of fast-start finance in 2010-2012, and to jointly mobilize US$100 billion per year by 2020.

Under the Protocol track, the CMP urged Annex I parties to raise the level of ambition towards achieving aggregate emission reductions consistent with the range identified in the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and adopted Decision 2/CMP.6 on land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). The mandates of the two AWGs were extended for another year.

DURBAN: The UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, took place from 28 November to 11 December 2011. The Durban outcomes covered a wide range of topics, notably the establishment of a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, a decision on long-term cooperative action under the Convention and agreement on the operationalization of the GCF. Parties also agreed to launch the new ADP with a mandate “to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties.” The ADP is scheduled to complete these negotiations by 2015. The new instrument should enter into effect from 2020 onwards. In addition, the ADP was also mandated to explore actions to close the pre-2020 ambition gap in relation to the 2°C target.

DOHA: The UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar, took place from 26 November to 8 December 2012. The conference resulted in a package of decisions, referred to as the “Doha Climate Gateway.” These include amendments to the Kyoto Protocol to establish its second commitment period and agreement to terminate the AWG-KP’s work in Doha. The parties also agreed to terminate the AWG-LCA and negotiations under the Bali Action Plan. A number of issues requiring further consideration were transferred to the SBI and SBSTA, such as: the 2013-15 review of the global goal; developed and developing country mitigation; the Kyoto Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms; national adaptation plans (NAPs); MRV; market and non-market mechanisms; and REDD+. Key elements of the Doha outcome also included agreement to consider loss and damage, “such as an institutional mechanism to address loss and damage in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.”

ADP 2: ADP 2 met in Bonn, Germany, from 29 April to 3 May 2013. The session was structured around workshops and roundtable discussions, covering the ADP’s two workstreams. Many felt this format was helpful in moving the ADP discussions forward. Several delegates noted, however, that the ADP needs to become more focused and interactive in future sessions.

BONN: The Bonn Climate Change Conference took place from 3-14 June 2013. SBI 38 was characterized by an agenda dispute concerning a proposal by the Russian Federation, Belarus and Ukraine to introduce a new item on legal and procedural issues related to decision-making under the COP and CMP. As no solution to the dispute was found, the SBI was unable to launch substantive work. SBSTA 38 achieved what many saw as good progress, inter alia, on REDD+ and several methodological issues. The resumed ADP 2 was structured around workshops and roundtables. No agreement was reached on establishing one or more contact groups to move part of the work to a more formal setting. Many, however, felt that switching to a negotiating mode will be important to ensure that the ADP makes progress in future sessions.


SIXTH MEETING OF THE TECHNOLOGY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (TEC 6): This meeting took place from 26-28 June 2013, in Bonn, Germany. Participants heard updates on the results of the first CTCN Advisory Board meeting and from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Secretariat regarding ongoing work and support for activities relating to technology needs assessments. They addressed nascent and possible future TEC collaborations with other relevant institutional arrangements, and discussed two draft technology briefs.

FIRST MEETING OF EXPERTS ON LONG-TERM FINANCE (LTF): The meeting, which convened from 16-17 July 2013, in Manila, the Philippines, considered possible pathways for mobilizing scaled-up climate finance; parameters for identifying such pathways; and enabling environments and policy frameworks in the context of mobilization and effective deployment of climate finance in developing countries.

SECOND MEETING OF EXPERTS ON LTF: This meeting took place in Bonn, Germany, from 19-20 August 2013, and considered: enabling environments and policy frameworks for effective deployment of climate finance; public policy and financial instruments that facilitate the mobilization of climate finance for mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries; and parameters for identifying pathways for mobilizing scaled-up climate finance.

LTF WRAP-UP EVENT: This event, which took place in Incheon, Republic of Korea, from 10-12 September 2013, consisted of three thematic sessions: pathways for mobilizing scaled-up climate finance; enabling environments and policy frameworks for effective deployment of climate finance; and enabling environments and policy frameworks for mobilizing scaled-up finance. Acknowledging progress made, many representatives stressed that further work is required on: climate finance definitions; predictability of financing; and the role of the private sector.

12TH SESSION OF THE WORKING GROUP (WG) I AND 36TH  SESSION OF IPCC: At its meeting, held from 23-26 September 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden, IPCC WG I finalized its contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) titled “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis.” The Panel then met to approve the WGI Summary for Policymakers and accepted the underlying report, including the Technical Summary and annexes.

FIFTH MEETING OF THE GCF BOARD: During the meeting, held from 8-10 October 2013, in Paris, France, the Board developed a roadmap aimed at raising financial resources for the Fund to support developing countries in their efforts to address climate change. The Board decided to implement an initial resource mobilization for the Fund within three months after the adoption of arrangements that will enable the Fund to receive and manage funds.

MONTREAL PROTOCOL MOP 25: The 25th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer took place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 21-25 October 2013. Delegates debated whether or not the Montreal Protocol had a mandate to consider hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). While delegates could not reach consensus on the amendment proposals to control HFCs under the Protocol, they did agree that the Technology and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP) would address the technical, financial and legal aspects of management of HFCs using the Montreal Protocol and its mechanisms. There was also an agreement to host a workshop in 2014 related to HFCs.

Further information


National governments