UN climate talks: live coverage of the opening COP19 session

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Latest headlines:
-The 19th Conference of the Parties opens in the Polish capital Warsaw
-Summit President Maric Korolec calls for atmosphere of trust – report
-Funding drought threatens 2015 UN climate agreement – report
-Philippines envoy says talks are “fight for country’s survival” – report
-Poor nations set to demand climate compensation – report



1307 – Vietnam speaks last. The delegate focuses, as Filippino delegate Yeb Sano did, on the typhoon. Haiyan has today made landfall in Vietnam, where some 600,000 have already been evacuated. The tragedy in the Philippines is a call to action.

1302 – Cuba’s up. There is an urgent need to implement prior decisions taken at past climate talks, says this delegate. As usual, they stress the importance of finance – public resources must be made available. Their principle objective is to continue to reduce emissions, while elimination of poverty also remains important. National mitigation efforts must be accompanied by provisions of new financial resources.

1253 – The Nicaragua delegate represents the Like Minded Developing Countries group. The speech is comprehensive, but the delegate begins by emphasising that poverty eradication remains their overriding priority. It is time for countries to go beyond platitudes about urgency, he says, and actually take action. There is nothing surprising in the long list of priorities the delegate recites, including: the capitalisation of the Green Climate Fund and the ratification of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

But what is especially interesting is, in the last few minutes of the speech, he switches over to his native language. If this conference is to succeed, he says, then developed countries must stop their historic practise of “bringing political pressure” on developing countries – a habit he says is “anti-democratic and anti-pluralist”. There should be no coercion at the climate talks, he adds.

1247 – It’s the Dominican Republic’s turn, speaking on behalf of the AILAC group. This delegate is the first to mention the Majuro Declaration – an ambitious document signed in September by the Pacific Islands, and presented to UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon at the UN General Assembly as a “Pacific gift”. This conference should take into account the ambitions of this declaration, says the delegate.

The tiny Pacific Island states are on the front line of climate change, as rising seas devour their coastlines

The tiny Pacific Island states are on the front line of climate change, as rising seas devour their coastlines

1242 – The delegate from Chile now speaks up, representing the Latin America and Caribbean Initiative. Their survival is closely related to finance, says the delegate, and they cannot wait any longer. Predictability in sourcing these funds is key in helping developing countries plan for adaptation and mitigation. Transparency and accountability are also of fundamental importance, and are a “cornerstone of the confidence building needed to make progress”. This group considers this conference a fundamental milestone in working towards a 2015 climate agreement

1238 – Tajikistan is representing the group of Mountainous Developing Nations that are landlocked. The delegate focuses on the need to hold warming at 2C, adding that the activities of developed countries along are not enough to stop the adverse effects of climate change, and that the success of the Warsaw conference depends upon there being specific outcomes at these talks.

1231 – Algeria now up. She pushes on with the well-worn theme of loss and damage, but this time with a new angle: payments should focus on desertification and land degradation – a topic that RTCC covered in detail in September when Ed King went to the UN’s desertification conference. She also highlights the need to remedy the deficit in adaptation funds, and addresses the key role that developing countries will play in transferring clean technology to developing countries.

1227 – The Panama delegate represents System for Central America Integration. There must be progress on equity in order to create trust to continue with the process, says the delegate. Their region is one of the most vulnerable, but they are already using their “scanty resources” to make a difference. They reaffirm their right to sustainable development in this context.

1222 – Saudi Arabia is speaking on behalf of the Arab Group. They offer a new spin on the speeches so far, focusing on the need for voluntary commitments from developing countries, which, they say, must be supported by developed countries. Such voluntary efforts, they say, must be reviewed at the national level. Developing countries “should not impose standards on developing countries,” says the delegate.

Saudi Arabia was accused of trying to weaken the language in the recent IPCC report

Saudi Arabia was accused of trying to weaken the language in the recent IPCC report

1212 – China is speaking on behalf of Brazil, India, SA and China. This is a long one, and important – China is a vital part of the negotiating group. But generally, the delegate speaks about the role that developed countries must play in tackling climate change, based upon their historical responsibility for the problem. These countries must provide finance, technology and capacity building. Specifically, China urges developed countries to put financial numbers on the table for the 2013-2020 period, which should be greater than the amount donated through fast track finance. This should be public finance, with private funds being purely supplementary. The group, he says, is dedicated to consensus building, which is at the heart of the process.

1209 – Papua New Guinea speaks on behalf of the Coalition of Rainforest Nations. No surprise, then, that this delegate focuses on the need to improve the implementation of REDD+ – the UN scheme to prevent emissions being released from deforestation. Warsaw should be a chance to help design the financial and governance architecture for REDD, he says.

1200 – The Nepal delegate is speaking on behalf of LDCs, another group who suffer greatly from climate impacts. He says that the 1.5C is still technically possible, but the opportunity is fading fast. He says that the Warsaw conference can create a “lasting legacy” by making progress on the issue of how the US$ 100bn promised by developed countries to developing countries can be mobilised from public finance. There also needs to be a clear timeline for the Durban Platform, in terms of both designing a 2015 deal and mobilising pre-2020 action. Loss and damage also needs to be addressed, along with REDD+.

1156 – Swaziland is now speaking for the African Group. He points out that the losses incurred in the Philippines are beyond adaptation measures. He focuses on the need for a legal agreement by 2015 – one that will limit global temperature changes to well below 2C. But he highlights that the Africa Group cannot play a game changing role – this is a team game, he says, and one where the support of the economic giants will be vital. Climate change is a “moral and ethical challenge”, he says, adding that each country “needs to show clear moral leadership”.

1147 – Alliance of Small Island states now up. This group is one that traditionally pushes hard for progress at the UN climate talks, as one that is particularly vulnerable to the worst impacts of climate change. She begins by saying that the cost of extreme weather events has been mounting for some time. “This conference must be about urgency of action,” says the delegate.

She says, we need to close the emissions gap that UNEP reported recently – something that is still possible if countries take immediate action. She also pushes for the need for the new 2015 protocol to recognise the principle of common but differentiated responsibility, though stresses this doesn’t absolve any countries from committing to ambitious action. The Green Climate Fund must be capitalised by early next year, she says, and this conference should work on clarifying the source of this funding and establishing a timeline.

1145 – There is now a three minutes silence for the tragedy in the Philippines. Delegates are on their feet. Some are joining Sano in shedding tears for the loss of lives that occurred during the typhoon.


1141 – Yeb Sano announces he will not eat during the conference, until a meaningful agreement has been achieved.


1125 – Yeb Sano, the delegate from the Philippines, is up now. This is a more emotional speech than most – the Philippines are currently suffering in the aftermath of an enormous typhoon that has left the Filipino delegation reeling in shock. All of the other countries have expressed their sympathy to the Philippines, with many wearing flowers to express their sympathy. He cracks up as he references the fact that he is speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves, having perished in Typhoon Haiyan.

You can read the full transcript of Sano’s speech exclusively on RTCC – “we must stop this climate madness”. He focuses on the issue of loss and damage – a key one for developing countries, and one that will no doubt have been crystallized by the crisis in the Philippines. He also focuses on the need for renewable energy and sustainable development.

1121 – Switzerland is speaking on behalf of the EIG. The delegate says that the bloc is “strongly committed” to action up to 2020. He adds that the group’s priorities in this conference includes making sure parties carry out their mitigation commitments, designing the post-2020 regime, as well as early mobilisation of the Green Climate Fund. He is the first delegate to explicitly bring up the issue of equity, highlighting the need for a fair agreement that takes into account common but differentiated responsibilities.

1116 – Australia is speaking on behalf of the Umbrella Group. He focuses on the need to enhance collective mitigation ambition before 2020, and highlight that they want to bring forwards the implementation agenda. This Warsaw should send signal to business, cities and states, who will need to “share experience” in confronting climate change. “Our regime links international and domestic action in a mutually reinforcing way,” he says.

1110 – The EU is focusing on the role that this Warsaw conference will play in taking the talks towards Paris 2015, where member states must agree on some form of legally binding deal on climate change. “Time is short,” said the European delegate. A new agreement must “comprehensively address the means of adaptation and implementation”. 2013 is a year of climate action, and should enable all countries to go further in their 2020 ambitions.

1101 (1201 Poland) – Up first, the Fiji delegate speaks on behalf of the G77 + China bloc. The group focused on the need for clarity on finance, with progress on mobilising the US$ 100bn per year promised by developed countries to help developing countries to adapt. Loss and damage will also prove a key point for them, and they called for the “full implementation” for the decision taken at Doha last year to build a mechanism through which this climate change compensation can be applied.

1055 (1155 Poland) – The panel is going through some organisational points now, but soon we should be hearing from the different countries with the proposals for this year’s talks, so keep your eyes peeled. These important statements will be a good indication of the stance from which the different negotiating groups will approach the conference. RTCC has already gathered in a few informed predictions of where various countries will stand: see E3G’s Nick Mabey on the EU and Olga Dobrovidova on Russia.

1015 (1115 Poland) – Up now, Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chair of the IPCC. The UN’s climate panel caused quite a stir in September, when the first installment of the mammoth report declared that human influence on the climate is “unequivocal”. The report provides the scientific background that will inform the decisions taken at these talks. Pachauri is now outlining the key findings of the report, including the increasing acidity of the ocean and the decline of the ice cover in the Arctic. “Many of the observed changes are unprecedented from decades to millenia… Each of last three decades has been successively warmer at the earth’s surface since any of the preceding decades since 1850,” he says.

Rajendra Pachauri at the opening of the UN summit

Rajendra Pachauri at the opening of the UN summit

0955 (1055 Poland) – Christiana Figueres, the UN climate chief, takes to the floor. “What happens in this stadium is not a game. there are not two sides, but the whole of humanity. There are no winners or losers. We all either win or lose in the future we make for ourselves,” she says. There are four priorities for this conference, she adds: finance, the construction of a mechanism that will allow vulnerable nations to respond to climate change, the path to pre-2020 ambition, and clarity over the new agreement for 2015.

Key figures at the UN climate talks open the ceremony

Key figures at the UN climate talks open the ceremony

0950 (1050 Poland) – Korolec is giving his opening speech. He highlights the startling difference between the developed and the developing world, referencing the devastating typhoon that swept through the Philippines, which Yeb Sano says has left their delegation in shock. Transparency is one of his priorities for the conference he says. “I will spare no efforts to find a consensus – it is a party driven process, but it needs a facilitator.”

0944 (1044 Poland) – Marcin Korolec, Poland’s Environment Minister, is officially declared the President of this year’s UN climate talks. Korolec writes of his hopes for the conference here on RTCC. “We will do our utmost to ensure that this year’s summit is successful both in terms of content and organisation,” he writes.

0943 (1043 Poland) – His Excellency Mr. Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, president of last year’s conference, is giving his farewell speech in Arabic. He congratulates all the countries that have ratified the second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol and says he would like to “urge other countries to do the same”. One of the key achievements of his Doha summit, he says, was the movement made on loss and damage, which he says was a “great gain for developing countries”. This is an issue that is likely to play a key part in this year’s Warsaw talks, as poorer nations push for compensation from richer countries.

0926 (1026 Poland) – While we wait: what is this whole Warsaw business about anyway, and why should you care? Luckily, the RTCC team has assembled a list of 10 very good reasons why climate change should be top of everyone’s agenda.This conference, held annually by the UN, is an attempt to figure out how the world can cut its emissions and prepare for climate impacts. While no one is holding their breath for an answer at this particular summit, it will pave the way for some sort of legally binding deal at the 2015 conference in Paris.

0915 (1015 Poland) – As we wait for the panel to assemble, here is a quick overview of the line up. Christiana Figueres will of course be attending – she is the head of the UN’s climate body. Marcin Korolec, Poland’s Environment Minister and the President of this year’s climate talks, will also be here, along with Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, who was last year’s president. IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri – a no doubt experienced panellist after September’s climate science frenzy – is also scheduled to be at the ceremony. The delightfully named Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Mayor of Warsaw, will also be here to mark the opening session. The muzak continues…

0855 (0955 Poland) – Welcome to RTCC’s coverage of the opening session at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. I’m Sophie Yeo, and this morning I’ll be liveblogging the most important elements of the summit’s “opening ceremony”. I can’t promise it’ll be an Olympic-style spectacle (maybe Danny Boyle was busy?) but it should be a good indication of some of the main issues that will arise over the next two weeks.

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