Climate minister satisfied by UN conference

Some progress was made at the COP19 climate conference in Poland but there is a long way to go before a new global climate deal is signed in 2015

The UN climate conference in Warsaw, Poland, closed on Sunday with an agreement for countries to draw up and present their contributions to cutting emissions ahead of the 2015 conference in Paris, where a new global climate deal is expected to be signed.

The deal is meant to limit the global temperature increase to less than two degrees – the point at which the warming is expected to be "devastating" – but the climate minister, Martin Lidegaard (R), said there were many obstacles to overcome.

“We got the result we wanted, both in terms of climate financing and a roadmap ahead of the 2015 Paris conference,” Lidegaard stated in a press release. “It’s not a flashy roadmap and the negotiations clearly showed that it is going to be a huge challenge to land a global climate deal in two years.”

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Bickering and a walkout
The conference was characterised by the usual bickering between rich and poor nations. The tumult culminated in a mass walkout by climate charities and groups on Thursday.

One of the key sticking points was how to compensate countries who are affected by climate change and rising sea levels – so-called “loss and damage”.

In the end, a ‘Warsaw mechanism’ will be established from next year that will provide aid to countries affected by climate change, but without any nation being held liable.

Progress on climate financing
The conference also made some progress on securing the $100 billion (550 billion kroner) that was promised at the 2009 COP15 conference in Copenhagen for the Green Climate Fund that countries can use to adapt to climate change.

“Rich countries have promised to gradually increase the amount of public money while the rest have agreed that we need private funds if we are going to reach the 100 billion kroner target for 2020,” Lidegaard said. “It’s a significant result that I am proud of.”

But Mattias Söderberg from the charity Folkekirkens Nødhjælp said developing nations needed a stronger financial commitment from wealthy countries.

“If the poorest countries are to increase their climate efforts over the coming years, then they need to know what sort of support to expect and this deal did not provide sufficient clarity on this,” Söderberg told Ritzau.

Developing countries are expected to make contributions to reducing carbon emissions in the 2015 deal for the first time – they were exempt in the previous deal, the Kyoto Protocol, which is why the US chose not to sign it.

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Challenging climate deal
EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said COP19 showed how challenging it will be to secure an ambitious result in Paris next year.

“But the last hours also showed that we are capable of moving forward,” Hedegaard stated in a press release. “All countries must contribute to the future reduction efforts, and already now all countries must go home and do their homework in order to table their contributions well in advance of the Paris conference. The journey has started.”