AT THE UN climate summit in
Warsaw, Poland, last week, an agreement was struck to help the
world's most vulnerable countries to deal with the impact of
Widely criticised as a
missed opportunity to make progress on a global-emissions deal
promised for 2015, the Warsaw summit came close to failure. The
conference president, Marcin Korolec, was sacked from his job as
Polish Environment Minister during the two-week meeting; and the
hosts conducted a meeting of global coal-producers while the summit
was taking place.
Negotiators and environment
ministers from 190 countries were kept 24 hours beyond the
Friday-evening deadline; but, after the meeting, the Warsaw
International Mechanism for Loss and Damage was created - a system
designed to provide technical support, information, and,
potentially, finance for the world's poorest countries who are
suffering from climate change.
Typhoon Haiyan cast a shadow
over proceedings. The head of the Philippines' delegation, Yeb
Sano, made an emotional speech, saying that he was going to fast
for the duration of the summit, or until meaningful action was
taken to tackle climate change.
"Disasters are never
natural," he said. "They are the accumulation of the constant
breach of economic, social, and environmental thresholds. Most of
the time, disasters are a result of inequity, and the poorest
people of the world are at greatest risk because of their
vulnerability, and decades of maldevelopment, which is connected to
the kind of pursuit of economic growth that dominates the world;
the same kind of pursuit of so-called economic growth and
unsustainable consumption that has altered the climate system."
His symbolic "fast for the
climate" triggered similar actions around the world. The former
Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams, who chairs Christian Aid,
led the call to fast in solidarity with Mr Sano and the victims of
Haiyan, and urged governments to take action in Warsaw. An
interfaith coalition announced that members would fast for a day a
month until next year's conference in Lima, Peru.
There was a lack of new
pledges to cut emissions, and also a lack of donations to the Green
Climate Fund. Announced by developed countries in 2009, the fund is
designed to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poor
countries adapt and develop without having to rely on polluting
A special one-day climate
meeting of world leaders is to be hosted by the UN
secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on 23 September next year, in New
One observer at the summit,
the senior climate-change adviser at Christian Aid, Mohamed Adow,
said: "This was a missed opportunity. . . We need a clear plan to
fairly divide the global effort of responding to climate change,
and a timeline of when that will happen.
"Next year needs to be the year of climate ambition, if we are
to heed the words of Yeb Sano and stay on track for a deal in 2015
that assures a safe future for millions."