Climate Justice & Sustainability

Tears at the talks: Week 1 of the COP19 UN Climate Talks, Warsaw, Poland in Review

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Despite not having been granted access to the latest series of UNFCCC climate change negotiations, this year taking place in Poland, Youth Policy’s Chief Campaigner gives us the lo-down on week 1 of the talks. The news doesn’t seem good; one negotiator is refusing to eat after a tearful speech to fellow negotiators and the world, African representatives are threatening to walk out, and the youth constituency faces the usual internal issues.

A week ago today the 19th meeting of the UN climate talks opened in Warsaw, Poland to a desperate and emotional speech from Philippines negotiator Naderev ‘Yeb’ Saño, whose home town was one of the worst affected by the recent super storm Haiyan. He ended his speech by announcing that he will fast for the duration of the conference in the hope that it will spur negotiations to act.

Watch Yeb’s full speech [here].

Many believed that Saño’s speech would spur the conference delegates into action, but as the week progressed it was clear that even the lowest expectations of the talks weren’t going to be met by some.

Canada has been joined on the naughty step of the negotiations by Australia and Japan. Australia has won an unprecedented 4 ‘Fossil of the Day’ awards already for being the first country to repeal their carbon tax, for ‘abandoning neighbours’ on loss and damage, and for bringing no new finance commitments to the table. Japan has earned widespread criticism for changing their emissions reductions targets from a reduction of 25% from 1990 levels by 2020, to the equivalent of anincreaseof 3% by 2020. You can read more about both of these stories [here].

Leaked cables showing the US’ plan to block any move towards a distinct track of negotiations for ‘loss and damage’, as well as to push for all emissions reductions pledges to remain voluntary [more here], have done nothing to make us believe that week two will see a miraculous turn around.

With almost 30% of countries not sending a minister to the talks [more here], and with rumours that African negotiators may stage a walk out if progress isn’t made [more hereand here], it looks like week two will see tensions rise as negotiations continue to make little progress towards a deal in 2015.

UN Secretary General's Special Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi meets with youth at COP19.
UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi meets with youth at COP19.

Civil society has made some attempt to pressure negotiators into action, but with environmental NGOs (ENGOs) increasingly deciding not to send representatives to the talks, it falls to Youth NGOs (YOUNGO) to deliver inspiring actions and coordinated lobbying efforts. But YOUNGO continues to battle many of the problems outlines by Luke Kemp in his series for /environment on the need for reform within the constituency [more here]. More than that, reports are that several youth - including myself - have failed to be granted visas and/or passes to the talks, rendering us unable to participate at all, and three members of YOUNGO were kicked out on the first day of the talks for holding up an unauthorised banner [more here].

So like many, as I watch the negotiations from afar, I cannot see how these negotiations will recover in time to be called a success. Worse, steps that needed to be taken towards achieving a deal in 2015 are unlikely to be achieved, risking a Copenhagen re-run in Paris in 2 years time.

More on the talks…

To find out how to keep track of the COP19 negotiations, check out our article [here].

Read more about why Canada is considered a pariah of the climate talks [here].

Linh Do of The Verb on why the Australian government is being criticised, and why it isn’t a surprise [here].

More about the ‘Loss and Damage’ negotiations can be found [here].

Browse photos of Saturday’s climate march through Warsaw [here] and read about it [here].

Watch UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi’s interview with RTCC [here].

Top stories as chosen by the UNFCCC [here].

Featured Image Credit:PAP/Radek Pietruszka via