Minister Mansveld: a step closer to a new climate agreement

Minister Wilma Mansveld of Environment is “relatively positive” about the results of the UN Climate Summit in Warsaw. "We are a step closer to a new climate agreement. We now have a timetable with agreements to enable a new agreement to be concluded in 2015 that will go into effect after 2020. This means that the foundations have started to be laid. As far as the Netherlands is concerned, these foundations need to become more solid," Ms Mansveld said after the close of the conference.

Establishing a basis for the new agreement was the primary goal of the COP 19 climate summit in Warsaw. The negotiations did not run smoothly, however, mainly because of the different opinions held by developing countries and developed countries on various subjects. Ultimately, all countries agreed on paving the way for the new agreement that will take effect after 2020 when the  Kyoto Protocol lapses.

Apart from a timetable with agreements aimed at arriving at a new climate agreement in 2015, understanding was also reached on several other matters. The parties agreed rules under which developing countries will be financially rewarded for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by not cutting down forests or by reducing deforestation.

Intentions

Ms Mansveld would have liked countries to have demonstrated their intentions by indicating as early as next year how they will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions after 2020. "Unfortunately, several countries are unable or unwilling to do this at the moment," is her conclusion. The agreement now is that all countries will make their contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions known in 2015. They should do this well in advance of the UN Climate Summit in Paris in December of that year. Countries will be invited to submit their statement in the first quarter of 2015 if they are able to do so.

Mitigation and adaptation

At the summit, in addition to mitigation (prevention), a great deal of attention was paid to adapting to climate change. This is evidenced by the injection of an additional 100 million dollars in adaptation funding for developing countries. For some time now, the Netherlands has been assisting other countries financially or with knowledge provided by the business community so that the society in those countries can be made more resilient to the consequences of climate change.

The Netherlands attaches great importance to adaptation and therefore organised three meetings that focused on this theme. According to Minister Mansveld, there is growing awareness worldwide that it pays, both tangibly and intangibly, to take measures that increase a country’s resilience. "Investing today is less expensive than making repairs afterwards,” according to Ms Mansveld. She is therefore continuing to advocate for giving adaptation ample room in the new climate agreement.

Developing countries

A process for dealing with loss and damage will aid developing countries that are facing the consequences of climate change. Agricultural land, for example, can be lost due to salinisation, drought or, on the other hand, extreme rainfall. Rising sea levels can cause irreparable damage. Developing countries will also receive more aid in the form of knowledge sharing. Moreover, cooperation between organisations active in this field will be improved.

Furthermore, it was agreed that the Green Climate Fund will be launched next year. This fund will provide financial assistance to developing countries for taking climate action. They can submit projects for funding as of the end of 2014. Developed countries will gradually increase their contribution to the fund.

Additional negotiations

To keep up political pressure, next year the countries will hold additional negotiations in the spring, summer and autumn. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will host the autumn round of negotiations.

Young Dutch people were present at the summit as UN delegates for sustainable development. Together with young people from other countries, they succeeded in having the importance of climate action for future generations included in the final text.

For Minister Mansveld, these young people are “extra eyes and ears”. She hears from them the ideas that young people have about the climate and climate change.