Guest Article #102

Universality and Fairness of Commitments are the Key to Success

This November, we will host in Warsaw the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 19). The negotiations of the new agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, which is to enter into force in 2020, will be one of the key issues to be discussed at COP 19.

The first round of talks preparing the ground for COP 19 has already concluded. I hope that during the November summit in Warsaw discussions will be as constructive as they have been during the PreCOP event.

In October in Warsaw, we held informal high-level consultations in order to pave the way to COP 19 discussions on the future of global climate policy. On this occasion, we convened ministers and negotiators from approximately 40 countries. This meeting is widely known as the PreCOP, since it serves the purpose of preparing the ground for the annual session of the COP. Participants found this year's PreCOP particularly fruitful. We agreed that the key deliverable of the new climate agreement in 2015 is to ensure universal participation in the new regime. Global problems, such as climate change, require truly global solutions.

Furthermore, we concluded that the new agreement should accommodate national mitigation actions and development policies, encouraging every Party to strive for the highest possible ambition of action. The challenge now is to design such transformative agreement under a very tight deadline.

Poland is the first of the three Presidencies, ahead of Peru in 2014 and France in 2015, to steer the climate negotiations process towards the new climate agreement. Therefore, Warsaw will be the place to lay foundations for the future regime. At COP 19 we should identify the priority elements for the core agreement, define the roadmap to 2015 and increase confidence in the process. Decision on the elements of the agreement, including the structure of the 2015 package - the core text and subsequent implementing decisions - is necessary to identify the priorities for the upcoming months. Setting the timeline for finalization of the text of the agreement in 2015 is a prerequisite to efficiently structure the negotiations process. I will be much more confident about achieving a successful outcome at COP 21 in Paris if we manage to secure such outcomes in Warsaw.

That said, we should not forget that climate negotiations are not confined to the discussions on the new agreement. My priority as COP 19 President is to ensure progress under the implementation agenda. The full implementation of adopted decisions is a prerequisite to effectively address the challenges of climate change. In particular, we will continue discussions on climate finance, and on loss and damage caused by climate change. There are other major outstanding issues that need further attention. We must strengthen trust in process, especially among the countries most vulnerable to climate change, but also among the wider public. I hope that delivering on implementation in Warsaw will create the confidence needed for a constructive debate on the new agreement. A confidence in that in this process, things get done.

One of the innovations of the Polish Presidency is opening up the negotiations process to major climate policy stakeholders – the business community and cities. The business-ministerial debate, organised for the first time in the realm of climate negotiations was a very productive element of the PreCOP and was warmly welcomed by all participants. Entrepreneurs voiced their interest for clear and stable long term policies. They also expressed their concern about the possible impact of climate policy on competitiveness. On the whole, it is this sector that has the greatest reduction capacities, which is why we were so keen on having the industry taking the floor and engaging with governments during the PreCOP. A discussion with business will continue at COP 19 and beyond.

Drawing on the experience of COP 16 in Cancun, we are also planning on a debate with cities during the so-called Cities Day. With the majority of humanity becoming urban dwellers, cities have the highest potential for shaping and implementing climate policies at the sub-national level. Dialogue, knowledge and experience exchange will certainly be a valuable contribution to our discussion. Our ambition is to initiate better information exchange, involvement and mutual understanding between cities, entrepreneurs, politicians and representatives of the civil society through a stronger dialogue between individual entities and interested parties in the area of climate action.

Polish involvement in the process towards reaching the new climate agreement will not end at the summit in Warsaw. Over the next year, until the COP 20 in Lima, we will have the honour to actively act as the Presidency of the global climate change process, facilitating multilateral consultations and cooperating on our common agenda within the Trio of Presidencies – Poland, Peru and France. We are committed to guide the process by closely following the principles of transparency, ensuring full participation of all Parties, respecting legal procedures, and giving due consideration to diversified interests and opinions represented by the Parties to the Convention.

I trust that under these conditions we will significantly contribute to securing the new agreement in 2015.