If one is looking for clues from Warsaw as to the future of the U.N. climate change effort, probably the most telling is the phrase “nationally determined.”
Governments have set themselves the goal of a new global climate agreement in 2015. At the annual U.N. climate talks that wrapped up this weekend in Warsaw, they agreed on some of the steps they’ll take to get there.
The decision adopted in Warsaw invites all parties to “initiate or intensify domestic preparations for their intended nationally determined contributions,” and to “communicate them well in advance” of the 2015 meeting, set for December in Paris. It also establishes a loose timeline: by the first quarter of 2015 for those parties “ready to do so.”
This is primarily a procedural decision, a way to move the process forward. The reason it was so difficult to reach was that parties fought incredibly hard either to inject or to avoid substantive framing that would begin to define the shape of the Paris accord.
By the time they were done cramming clauses into the ungainly sentence at the heart of the decision, the parties had managed essentially to preserve the vague but delicate balance they’d struck in launching this latest round of talks two years ago in Durban. The 2015 agreement will be “applicable to all,” but its legal character, and how developed and developing country obligations will be differentiated, remain undefined.
Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change
Date: Monday, November 18, 18:00-19:00
Location: US Center, National Stadium
Building off the C2ES report, “Weathering the Storm: Building Business Resilience to Climate Change,” corporate leaders will discuss the risks of extreme weather and some ways to begin assessing and managing those risks. Among the steps that could help are: creating a clearinghouse for up-to-date data and analytical tools; investing in public infrastructure; considering resilience needs in regulation; and developing voluntary, public-private partnerships.
- Nancy Sutley, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality
- Giles Dickson, Vice President, Environmental Policies & Global Advocacy, Alstom
- Jennifer Layke, Executive Director, Institute for Building Efficiency, Johnson Controls
- Timothy Juliani, Director of Corporate Engagement, C2ES
Reception: “Increasing Stakeholder Engagement”
The Edison Electric Institute (EEI), Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), and International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) invite you to a reception recognizing the importance of increasing the involvement of stakeholder groups in the UNFCCC process – one of the key themes of COP-19.
Date: Monday, November 18, 19:30
Location: US Center, National Stadium
U.S. Climate Policy: An Update on Federal and State Action
Date: Tuesday, November 19, 18:00-20:00
Location: EU Side-events (1st floor), Room Brussels, National Stadium
Senior U.S. and California officials and business and environmental stakeholders will examine progress and challenges in advancing domestic policies to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
- Matt Rodriquez, Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency
- Jonathan Pershing, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Climate Change Technology and Policy, U.S. Department of Energy
- Marnie Funk, Senior Advisor, CO2 Advocacy, Oil Sands & Renewables, Shell Oil
- Jake Schmidt, International Climate Policy Director, Natural Resources Defense Council
- Elliot Diringer, Executive Vice President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
Statement of Elliot Diringer
Executive Vice President
Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
December 8, 2012
The Doha deal is unfortunately the best we can hope for at this stage. This is the first year of a four-year negotiation, and what was most important was moving the process forward. This agreement does that.
The countries most vulnerable to the rising toll of climate change understandably pushed hard for more. But it was clear coming into Doha that the major economies were not ready to commit to stronger emission cuts and there would be little new money on the table. We can't expect strong new commitments until 2015, the deadline the parties have set for a comprehensive new deal.
Keeping Kyoto alive for now was essential politically but is merely a bridge to a more balanced agreement in 2015. The fact that it was so hard to achieve even Doha's modest steps underscores how tough it will be to deliver a truly meaningful accord in three years. It's also a reminder that we can hardly rely on the UN process alone to mobilize strong global action. We need to ramp up efforts in other multilateral forums too and, most especially, at the domestic level. International agreements work only if countries have the domestic policies needed to deliver on them. Putting those policies in place remains the highest priority.
It's disappointing the United States was not in a position in Doha to credibly claim that it's on track to meeting President Obama's emissions pledge. An ambitious and durable deal in 2012 will be possible only with stronger U.S. engagement. The administration should move forward right away with sensible rules to cut power plant emissions. And Congress should seriously consider a carbon tax as part of a broader solution to the country's mounting fiscal challenges.
Contact Laura Rehrmann to arrange interviews, email@example.com or 703-516-0621
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) is an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan organization promoting strong policy and action to address the twin challenges of energy and climate change. Launched in November 2011, C2ES is the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Learn more at www.c2es.org.