“We approach the meeting in Warsaw at a pivotal moment in the international process to address climate change. We still have time and the means to limit warming to the internationally agreed two degrees Celsius target,“ said the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in a press release from November 8.
„But to meet this international commitment, we must respond to what science is telling us. We need to urgently harness all existing momentum and use all the tools we have at our disposal to shift to low-carbon and build resilience to climate change,” Ms. Figueres also said.
At the end of September, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest findings, reaffirming that human-generated climate change is real.
This week, the World Meteorological Organization reported that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2012, continuing an upward and accelerating trend.
Also this week, the UN Environment Programme issued its 2013 Emissions Gap Report, outlining that the gap between what has been pledged so far in the way of emission reduction pledges and what is required for the world to stay below the agreed maximum two degrees Celsius temperature rise has widened compared to last year.
Ms. Figueres said the latest findings constitute a clear call to action across all pillars of government, business and society, which need to take mutually reinforcing action to fight climate change.
“Global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak this decade, and get to zero net emissions by the second half of this century. We see a groundswell of concrete action at all levels, growing by the week. But we must see more. We have the money and technology, the knowledge and the new economic models to get the job done in time. These next two years are a critical period to act faster on climate,” she said.
“National governments need to act to minimize impacts to their populations and ensure sustainable development over generations. The private sector needs to act to minimize climate risk and capture opportunity. And the international process must push forward now to build the foundation for an ambitious universal climate change agreement in 2015,” she said.
Ms. Figueres said that COP19 is an opportunity for governments to progress in several core areas: further clarifying the provision of finance to developing countries so they can cut their own emissions and build resilience; creating a mechanism to allow the poor and vulnerable to cope with irreversible damage from climate change; the concrete design of the new, universal climate change agreement; and immediate ways to reverse the trend of rising emissions.
The meeting in Warsaw also needs to take decisions that will make fully operational the new institutional support under the UNFCCC for developing nations in finance, adaptation and technology. These are the Green Climate Fund, the Technology Mechanism and Adaptation Committee agreed in Cancun in 2010.
“There is growing confidence that the new infrastructure of the UNFCCC can deliver strong co-benefits to all sides by making a transformative impact in achieving a low-emission, climate-resilient world. The tools, rules and institutions under the Convention form a solid foundation on which the new agreement’s ultimate effectiveness will rest,” Ms. Figueres said.
COP19 can also encourage ratification of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol agreed in Doha last year.
The UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw will be presided over by Marcin Korolec, Minister of the Environment of Poland, who is due to be elected President of the COP19 conference on the first day of the meeting.