Following two weeks of discussion, the UN climate talks in Warsaw finally ended in a compromise agreement, with participating nations agreeing to work toward curbing emissions as soon as possible. While environmental groups and island nations threatened by sea level rise have reported disappointment at the lack of a detailed financial plan for climate-related aid, the fact that any agreement was reached at all is being hailed by some as a victory.
Throughout the talks, rich and poor nations clashed over who should bear the biggest burden for cutting emissions. China and other developing nations argued that richer countries have more historical responsibility for global warming and should be responsible for cutting the bulk of future global emissions, while the US insisted that any deal would have to apply equally to all nations.
For now, all participating countries have agreed to announce their plans to curb emissions after 2020 in advance of the December 2015 climate summit in Paris, and even start implementing their plans at the beginning of that year if possible. Unfortunately, most of the details remain to be spelled out, and some observers are worried that little concrete progress will be made between now and the 2015 talks.
The agreement also included a multi-billion dollar framework to halt deforestation, and a promise from developed nations to set increasing levels of aid to help poor nations cope with heat waves, droughts, floods, rising sea levels, and other extreme events caused by climate change.
What was not included in the agreement was any plan to set up market-based systems to cut emissions, because developing nations refused to have a discussion on the topic until richer countries took on tougher emissions targets. Talks on that subject will resume in the first half of next year.
Photos © Piotr Drabnik