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Photo caption: Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, right, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, pose with bamboo bicycles from Ghana at the climate summit in Warsaw on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. Taiwan’s Caribbean allies have called for the nation’s inclusion in the talks. (IWN photo)
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, right, and UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, pose with bamboo bicycles from Ghana at the climate summit in Warsaw on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013. (IWN photo)

Warsaw, Poland — The UN climate change conference ended Saturday with Christiana Figueres, executive-secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) saying that every country — rich and poor — has to contribute to climate financing.

At a press conference at the end of the talks, Figueres was asked to comment on the outcome document, which says countries every country has to contribution.

The old text spoke of commitments for the rich and action for the poor.

Figueres told the press conference at 8:30 p.m. local time, 26 hours after the conference was scheduled to end, that the change was made on Saturday in order to be able to adopt the text.

“This can be interpreted in many ways. What is important is to realise what remains unchanged is the fact that industrialised countries, with a larger historical responsibility, must take the lead.

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“But that does not mean that everybody else is off the hook. Every country, small or large, sector or city has to contribute, otherwise we won’t be able to change the trajectory of greenhouse gases,” Figueres said.

She said what is important is “the principle of applicable to all”, which, in the Durban outcome document, applies to all parties, but “can be interpreted in a broader fashion.

“Everyone must contribute — certainly in differentiated fashion and differentiated levels and timing,” she further said, adding, “But it is very clear that everybody has to contribute if we are going to get to zero emissions by the second half of the century.”

The UNFCCC said the Conference in Warsaw keeps governments on a track towards a 2015 climate agreement, to be signed in Paris, and includes significant new decisions that will cut emissions from deforestation and the loss and damage that results from climate change.

And, Marcin Korolec, president of the 19th Conference of Parties (COP19), said, “Warsaw has set a pathway for governments to work on a draft text of a new universal climate agreement so it appears on the table at the next UN Climate change conference in Peru. This is an essential step to reach a final agreement in Paris, in 2015.”

In Warsaw, a milestone was passed after 48 of the poorest countries of the world finalized a comprehensive set of plans to deal with the inevitable impacts of climate change. With these plans, the countries can better assess the immediate impacts of climate change and what they need in the way of support to become more resilient.

Developed countries, including Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland have also paid or pledged over US$100 million to add to the Adaptation Fund, which has now started to fund national projects.

Governments completed work on the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) so that it can immediately respond to requests from developing countries for advice and assistance on the transfer of technology. The CTCN is open for business and is encouraging developing countries to set up focal points to accelerate the transfer of technology.

Korolec told the press conference that he was “tired” but “extremely happy” with the outcome of the conference.

Korolec, who was removed from his post as Poland’s Minister of the Environment during the conference, said Parties managed to agree to a loss and damage mechanism, “another great achievement of this conference”.

He further said that parties agreed a decision on Durban Platform for Enhanced Action and a pathway to COP20 in Lima, and COP21 in Paris.

He said that Warsaw talks also agreed to the rules and procedures for the Climate Fund, received $100 million for the Adaptation Fund and pledges of over US$6 billion for climate financing.

Some 40 other decisions were taken at the conference.

“That was quite intensive. I think we are all exhausted,” Korolec said, adding that the two-week conference ended after 40 hours of constant negotiations.

Meanwhile, Figueres told the press conference that three major issues had to be delivered in Warsaw: climate finance, a much more clearer path toward the 2014 and 15 COPs, and a mechanism on loss and damage

She said the Warsaw talks have managed to deliver on all three, in addition to other agreements.

Figueres further said it is important to underscore that as successful as the COP was — because it exceeded many expectation — it is not possible to solve climate change with one COP.

“It is imperative that every single one of these climate talks is a very firm step forward in the right direction,” she said, adding that that has been the case over the past few years.

She said the Warsaw conference is “definitely a firm step forward towards Lima and Paris” and keeps Parties on track for the 2015 agreement.

She reminded Parties of the importance of staying the course, adding that while they are exhausted, “tomorrow the next step starts” and noted that countries are not on the path to ensuring that global temperatures do no increase more than 2 degrees Celsius.

The talks also produced the “Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage”, which Lorolec said is the first immediate action for the tragedy in Asia in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan earlier this month.

He said the precise scope will be decided by parties in the coming weeks and month.

Additionally, in the context of 2015, countries decided to initiate or intensify domestic preparation for their intended national contributions towards that agreement, which will come into force from 2020.

Parties ready to do this will submit clear and transparent plans well in advance of COP 21, in Paris, and by the first quarter of 2015.

Countries also resolved to close the pre-2020 ambition gap by intensifying technical work and more frequent engagement of ministers.

The conference also decided to establish an international mechanism to provide most vulnerable populations with better protection against loss and damage caused by extreme weather events and slow onset events such as rising sea levels.

Detailed work on the “Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage” will begin next year.

“We have seen essential progress. But let us again be clear that we are witnessing ever more frequent, extreme weather events, and the poor and vulnerable are already paying the price,” Figueres said.

“Now governments, and especially developed nations, must go back to do their homework so they can put their plans on the table ahead of the Paris conference,” she further stated.

In addition, governments provided more clarity on mobilizing finance to support developing country actions to curb emissions and adapt to climate change.

This includes requesting developed countries to prepare biennial submissions on their updated strategies and approaches for scaling up finance between 2014 and 2020.

The Warsaw meeting also resulted in concrete announcements of forthcoming contributions of public climate finance to support developing nation action, including from Norway, the UK, EU, US, Republic of Korea, Japan, Sweden, Germany and Finland.

Meanwhile, the Green Climate Fund Board is to commence its initial resource mobilization process as soon as possible and developed countries were asked for ambitious, timely contributions by COP20, in December, next year, to enable an effective operationalization.

Saturday’s agreements included a significant set of decisions on ways to help developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and the degradation of forests, which account for around one-fifth of all human-generated emissions.

The Warsaw Framework for REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) is backed by pledges of US$280 million financing from the United States, Norway and the United Kingdom.

“I am proud of this concrete accomplishment. We are all aware of the central role that forests play as carbon sinks, climate stabilizers and biodiversity havens. Through our negotiations we have made a significant contribution to forest preservation and sustainable use which will benefit the people who live in and around them and humanity and the planet as a whole. And I am proud that this instrument was named the Warsaw Framework for REDD+,” Korolec said.