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Last month I found myself spending some quality time in Warsaw’s national stadium. I wasn’t enjoying some Polish football but attending the latest round of the international climate change negotiations. I was there to gather information for the Society’s project on human resilience to climate change. I was particularly interested in finding out how adaptation fits into the climate change negotiation process and how it will be dealt with in the new global agreement currently being negotiated.

Country negotiators are currently working on developing the next international agreement on climate change, which will kick in post-2020. This new agreement will include mitigation actions for developed countries, nationally appropriate mitigation actions from developing countries, financial arrangements, adaptation, technology transfer and a system for monitoring, reporting and verification. Parties will need to have agreed upon all of this by the December 2015 meeting, to be held in Paris.

The negotiations leading up to 2015 are all focused on delivering the future agreement. It was important that Warsaw delivered sufficient progress to ensure that countries will make their 2015 deadline. So what did negotiators deliver?

As a stepping stone to the delivery of a new agreement, the Warsaw meeting was focused more on operational issues than big headlines. A few key developments were made:

  1. A timeline for Parties to deliver the new climate agreement – they must submit their national ‘contributions’ to global greenhouse gas emissions reductions by the first quarter of 2015.
  2. Loss and damage – the term refers to the negative impacts caused by climate change that remain after mitigation and adaptation measures have been implemented. All three can essentially be thought of as all part of the same continuum. The more you mitigate climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the less you will have to adapt. The more you adapt to the impacts of climate change the less loss and damage you’ll experience. The latest negotiations produced the aptly named ‘Warsaw international mechanism for loss and damage’ which will be the main mechanism for promoting implementation different solutions and sharing information.
  3. Finance – At the start of the two-week meeting there were concerns about the level of funds available to the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund was essentially empty, despite agreement in 2009 that developed countries would provide new and additional funds of USD100 billion per year by 2020. Developing countries in particular were keen to see these issues addressed. Warsaw saw some increased clarity on mobilising finance including some announcements of forthcoming contributions and requests for biennial updates from developed countries on their strategies for increasing the level of finance available between 2014 and 2020.

Despite these steps, it looks like the next year will be a busy one for country negotiators – there is still a lot to be done before Paris.