UNFCCC Climate Talks Begin in Warsaw

At the opening plenary session of the UNFCCC COP19 at the National Stadium in Warsaw this morning, the buzz generated by another high-profile climate conference was palpable among delegates, observers and the press.

The cameras were flashing as the incoming COP19 president, Polish Environment Minister Marcin Korolec, took the stage and pledged to spare no effort to find a consensus on climate change.    

He was followed by UNFCCC secretary general Christiana Figueres, and IPCC Chairperson Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, who both delivered exacting speeches that framed the problem we collectively face and urged negotiators to make progress over the next two weeks by committing to strong measures that would limit global warming to 2° C above preindustrial levels.

Many of those who travelled to Warsaw are high on confidence because of a large body of scientific evidence coming from diverse quarters such as the IPCC, United Nations agencies, think tanks and universities that all demonstrate the magnitude of climate change as a threat to human populations.

However, there is also a peripheral skepticism that the UNFCCC process is slow moving, and perhaps lacking sufficient weight to influence policy makers and governments.

In a moment of impressive oratory, Christiana Figueres articulated the opportunity of this COP when she rightly stated that political will and public support worldwide favor action now. This inconvertible truth, more than anything else, is encouraging for positive outcomes in the coming days, and in 2015 when an ambitious international climate agreement is being sought.