COP 19 is the nineteenth meeting of the congress of the parties (COP) since the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1995.  The parties meet annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change and this year (2013) the meeting takes place in Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 22 November 2013.

The COP adopts decisions and resolutions, published in reports of the COP.  Successive decisions taken by the COP make up a detailed set of rules for practical and effective implementation of the UNFCCC.

The COP also serves as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, which also adopts decisions and resolutions on the implementation of its provisions.  This annual meeting is referred to as the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP).  However, Parties to the Convention that are not Parties to the Protocol are able to participate in the CMP as observers, but without the right to take decisions.

Sound complicated?  Well it is a bit and one of the reasons why it is very difficult to get the political wills of all of these parties aligned to deliver a binding treaty on climate change.

What was the outcome of COP 18?

COP 18 was held in Doha and marked  a historic shift in principles agreed but with very few genuine cuts in greenhouse gases. The summit established for the first time that rich nations should move towards compensating poor nations for losses due to climate change, the so called “Loss and Damage” mechanism.

The deal, agreed by nearly 200 nations in Doha, extended the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol (the only legally-binding plan for combating global warming) to 2020.  The conference also cleared the way for the Kyoto protocol to be replaced by a new treaty binding all rich and poor nations together by 2015 to tackle climate change.  It is hoped that more meat will be put on the bone in Warsaw.

The final text published “encourages” rich nations to mobilise at least $10bn (£6bn) a year up to 2020, when the new global climate agreement is due to kick in.

The proposed new “Loss and Damage” mechanism was seen as one of the successes of the summit. Up until now rich nations have agreed finance to help developing countries to get clean energy and adapt to climate change, but they have stopped short of accepting responsibility for damage caused by climate change elsewhere. But in Doha that broad principle was agreed.  More detailed information on the Doha summit is available here.


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