The Warsaw Summit closed with an agreement late on Saturday evening, after a last-ditch deal was reached on plans for a loss and damage mechanism designed to help developing nations cope with climate change impacts.
Forty-eight hours of tense negotiations including a stand-off between the US and developing nations culminated in a compromise deal that sets out a timeline for discussions in the run up to the Paris Summit in 2015 and commits countries to a new loss and damage mechanism.
“Warsaw has set a pathway for governments to work on a draft text of a new universal climate agreement so it appears on the table at the next UN climate change conference in Peru,” said Marcin Korolec, who presided over the talks on behalf of the Polish government. “This is an essential step to reach a final agreement in Paris in 2015.”
The so-called “Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage” will from next year commit developed nations to providing expertise and potentially aid to countries hit by climate-related impacts.
Yeb Sano, the Filipino diplomat who had been on hunger strike for the past fortnight in protest at the lack of action, successfully argued that the new institution should sit outside of rather than “under” an existing UN scheme dealing with adaptation.
However, the vague wording fell short of the kind of detailed commitments on additional funding and avoided a commitment to compensation that many developing nations had been seeking.
Christiana Figueres, head of the UN climate change secretariat, said progress on loss and damage was essential in the wake of more frequent storms, such as the super typhoon Haiyan which tore through the Philippines earlier this month killing more than 5,000 people.
“Let us again be clear that we are witnessing ever more frequent, extreme weather events and the poor and vulnerable are paying the price,” she said.
Earlier in the day, countries reached a compromise on a new work plan to run through to the Paris Summit in 2015.
A number of nations, including the US and EU, had been calling for a clearly defined timetable through to 2015 that would see countries make clear climate change “commitments” by a deadline of early 2015. However, China led a push back by a group of developing nations, arguing for more flexibility for poorer nations – a move that drew an angry response from the US which accused China of rolling back a previous agreement to ensure all nations make some form of commitments through the 2015 treaty.