Climate change conference kicks off

ZAMBIA is among developing countries that are attending the nineteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 9th Conference which starts today in Warsaw, Poland.

The country, like others has several similar expectations for the COP 19 that will open today until November 22 this year.
Every year, the COP brings together government delegations headed by the ministers for environment or Climate Change, international institutions, environmental, business and research non-governmental organisations, and media.
Lands, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Harry Kalaba is expected to lead the Zambian delegation to the conference where he will give Zambia’s position and stance.
The COP 19 is an international treaty between cooperating countries that have pledged to work together to limit average global temperature increases and the resulting climate change.
Furthermore, the COP assesses progress on countries in achieving their objectives from the Convention in Bonn, German.
However, some of the main expectations for the conference include enhancing finance, technology, and capacity building.
The European Union (EU) expectations for COP 19 include encouraging new pledges and increasing ambition of existing pledges with developed countries in the lead.
Elaborating the role of the UNFCCC in catalysing international initiatives; and linking the UNFCCC to other processes and including the 2014 United Nations Leaders Summit are other expectations from the EU.
This is according to the Earth Negotiation Bulletin.
China is calling for revisiting and inviting Annex I parties (Developed countries) not participating in the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol to undertake comparable targets.
China is underscoring the focus on finance at the annual conference.
Saudi Arabia wants a comprehensive approach that includes a variety of actions and the application of the Convention’s principles and provisions.
Mali, which is representing the African group, says parties should not focus on a particular option or sector but call for a process to review support from Annex I parties.
The African group also wants clarity on the delivery of the US$100 billion of annual long-term finance and options to strengthen the price of carbon.
World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is calling on Parties to the COP 19 to finalise Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) design elements and to work on the financial architecture to deliver results-based payments.
This, specifically means to work collaboratively and positively to address differences and commit with ambition to progress the building of a REDD+ mechanism that benefits people and nature.
The WWF wants parties to reach an agreement on the technical assessment for Reference Levels or Reference Emission Levels and provide guidelines for measuring, reporting, and verifying of REDD+.
Local Civil Society Organisation (CSO) wants a clear position on climate financing, the Green Climate Fund (GCF)
CSO representative at the COP 19, Morgan Katati said while the structure and administration of the GCF has been established only a handful of countries have pledged money towards it to date.
The GFC was established at the COP 16 as operating entity of the financial mechanism of the Convention under Article 11.
The GCF is supposed to support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country parties.
The Fund is expected to be governed by the GCF Board.
The assets of the GCF will be administered by a trustee only for the purpose of, and in accordance with, the relevant decisions of the GCF Board.
The World Bank was invited by the COP to serve as the interim trustee of the GCF, subject to a review three years after operationalisation of the Fund.
The COP also decided that an independent secretariat would support the operations of the Fund. The COP also decided that the GCF was to be designed by the transitional committee
Mr Katati,who is Zambia Institute of Environmental Management chief executive officer, said there is need to push developement to meet their obligations.
He said there is need to commit countries to make emission reductions in line with their capability to act responsibility for the climate crisis.
“The Warsaw talks should call on countries to put forward measurable pledges for emission reductions to be signed off at a Ban Ki Moon hosted heads of state climate change summit planned for September 2014,” said Mr Katati
Mr Katati said Zambia should call for swift capitalisation GCF at international level and how public finance can leverage climate investments and reduce poverty.
He said there is also need to strengthen the effectiveness of climate finance.
Mr Katati said Zambia needs to collaborate and join with other parties to call for 50 per cent on adaptation financing.
He said GCF is generally seen by many as the key institution of governing the climate finance architecture, on exploration of innovative ways to mobilise climate finance, and on how public finance can leverage investments.
“The COP19, and High Level Dialogue on Finance in particular, is also expected to make progress on finance to provide information on progress made to mobilise US$100 billion  annually by 2020 as well as on setting the right conditions to make progress on the calendar for the resource mobilization for the GCF,” Mr Katati said.
Citizen for Better Environment executive director Peter Sinkamba said the major expectation for the COP 19 is receiving detailed feedback on the capitalisation of the GCF.
“The Republic of Korea, Germany, and Denmark contributed to kick-start operations of the Fund. We hope other nations, especially those responsible for contributing the greater share of carbon emissions, in particular China, USA, and India could follow suit,” Mr Sinkamba said
Mr Sinkamba said countries like Zambia stand a good chance of benefiting from the fund on adaptation and mitigation measures because of the high rate of deforestation.
He said the rate of deforestation is too high in the country, thus slowly diminishing the green-house gas capture capabilities.
Mr Sinkamba said Zambia is harvesting between 300,000 and 800,000 hectares of forest cover annually largely due to ever increasing charcoal and firewood demand.
“It is one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. The tragedy is that due to high poverty levels, the majority of our people do not have alternative cleaner sources of energy,” Mr Sinkamba said.
He said the GCF could therefore go along to support the country acquire alternative energy sources for people.
Ilunga Mutwale, an environmentalist, said over the years, there has been growing apathy towards conferences because the parties do not agree to one binding and legal way of tackling climate change.
Mr Mutwale said with divergent national and regional priorities, this is not an easy thing to do.
“However, my expectations from the Zambian delegation are to learn from the World. We do less talking/lobbying and more listening in order to understand where we are right now in terms of climate change from the global perspective,” Mr Mutwale said.
As it stands, Mr Mutwale said the industrialised nations are still the biggest polluters on the planet, but rather that setting targets and meeting them, the goalposts seem to shift as the COP draws to conclusion or binding targets.
He said Zambia needs to simplify and go back to the drawing board by looking inwards because the answers are locally based.
“Are we going to continue depending on stripping the land (which includes deforestation) in order to make temporal wealth? When will we control our natural resources in order to determine what percentage of the GDP comes through agriculture? Will a day come when the World will come to learn how Zambia looked inward and developed and plan that suited our climate and our genes,” Mr Mutwale said
There is a common understanding that the new agreements should consist of a future-proof and simple core text of the agreement accompanied by further implementing decisions.
All key elements such as mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation should be addressed in the new agreement in a balanced manner.
There is need for countries to identify key success factors of the new agreement in order to promote universal and global participation in the context of the Convention principles.
It is now recognised that the 2015 legally binding instrument should build on existing institutions in order to avoid duplication of functions.
There is need for a decision in Warsaw on a timeline and roadmap for negotiations to COP 21 in 2015 that will include additional meetings and will send the right signals encouraging launching domestic preparations of the initial post 2020 mitigation pledges.
The COP 19 should mark a shift towards a focused mode of work under the Durban platform of enhanced actions in order to advance the task of preparing the draft negotiation text of the new agreement in time.
The ambitions of climate action relates not only to mitigation but also to adaptation and means of implementation.
Broad participation in both pre-2020 and a long term climate action is cardinal to effectively combating climate change.
In this regard the role of the land use and forestry sector should be duly taken into account in the discussions on ambition of action.