The 19th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 19) is underway in Warsaw, Poland. In the context of the ongoing climate change negotiations, LDC Watch released its calls to action on 16 November entitled "Climate Change Crisis is a Survival Emergency for the LDCs: LDC Civil Society Calls on COP19 to Deliver " highlighting crucial LDC-specific issues of mitigation, loss and damage and adaptation finance.


11-22 November 2013, Warsaw, Poland

 Climate change an issue of survival for LDCs

The escalating climate change crisis is an issue of survival for the 49 UN-defined Least Developed Countries (LDCs), given with their characteristic geographical and environmental vulnerabilities. Seventeen are landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), ten are small island developing states (SIDS) and 20 are mountainous countries. The vast majority of the 34 African LDCs lie within the Sub-Saharan region. The 2012 Triennial Review of the criteria for identification and graduation of LDCs recognises the extreme vulnerability of LDCs to climate change, and has underscored this with the addition of a new component “share of population living in low elevated coastal zones” under the third criterion of Economic Vulnerability Index.Everyday LDC people experience increasing desertification, heat stress, drought, glacial lake outburst floods, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, erratic precipitation, cyclones, storms, earthquakes and other extreme weather conditions. Their lives and livelihoods are under constant threat, as over 70% live in rural areas and depend on climate-sensitive subsistence agriculture and fishing. In addition, LDCs’ diverse ecosystems and biodiversity are in danger. While not an LDC, the Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan is the clearest indication yet of the terrible effects of climate change.

An unjust situation

The situation is totally unjust. LDCs, which are home to 12% of the global population, experienced 66% of all deaths related to climate disasters in the period 1980-2011. People living in LDCs are five times more likely to die from the climate catastrophe than those living in other parts of the world. In addition, the number of people in LDCs affected by extreme weather events have almost doubled, from 100 million between 1970 and 1979 to 193 million from 2000 to 2010, making climate-induced migration a reality.

The intensifying vulnerability of LDCs to climate change is a further injustice given that LDC greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) per capita are only a negligible 0.2%. LDCs have contributed less to the climate-change crisis but suffer disproportionately from the effects. Moreover, given their special needs and special situations that have resulted in low levels of socio-economic development, LDCs do not have the same capacity to adapt to climate change as richer countries. This then is the significance of the principles of “historical responsibility”, “equity”, and “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” enshrined in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

LDC Watch calls for immediate implementation of Article 4, Paragraph 9

As the nineteenth session of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP19) is underway in Warsaw, Poland, LDC Watch calls for the immediate implementation of Article 4, Paragraph 9 of the UNFCCC that “the Parties shall take full account of the specific needs and special situations of the least developed countries in their actions with regard to funding and transfer of technology” and further demands the following imperative calls to action to COP19:

Mitigation: The developed countries/Annex1 Parties can no longer escape from their mitigation responsibility at the expense of the LDCs and developing countries. The UNFCCC fully recognises the developed countries’ historical overconsumption of the carbon budget and has set in place, the principles of “equity”, “historical responsibility” and “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities”. 

Current emission trajectories still point to a 6oC level of warming which is likely to trigger a planetary emergency. The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol with less than 12% emissions reduction (2.5 Gigatonnes) agreed at the COP18 in Doha lack ambition and is inadequate compared to scientific evidence that calls for a domestic 50% emissions’ reduction (9Gt). 

We call for immediate, drastic cut in emissions and demand that all developed countries increase their mitigation targets in aggregate to at least 9Gt per year from 2.5Gt with common accounting of their targets in order to limit warming below 1.5oC.

Loss and Damage:  The most urgent LDC-specific issue of “loss and damage” caused by both slow-onset events as well as extreme events is not only about economic losses (infrastructure, livelihoods, crop loss etc.). It is also about non-economic losses (human life, cultural loss, displacement, loss of ecosystems & biodiversity etc). 

Economic and non-economic losses spell out lost development opportunities and further jeopardise the right to development especially in the context of the most marginalised and vulnerable communities in the LDCs. LDCs are already experiencing frequent “loss and damage” and we decry the fact that the developed countries continually demand ‘more evidence’ when this is raised in the negotiations. The COP18 agreed that it was a priority to establish a loss and damage institutional mechanism at the COP19. 

We demand that the Parties adhere to their pledge and additionally, based on the Precautionary Principle, that the COP19 sets up an institutional mechanism to address the issue of loss and damage. 

Adaptation: The issue of adaptation for the LDCs is all about finance, transfer of technology and capacity-sharing commitments by developed countries to ensure a just transition. It is premised on the principle of “historical responsibility” and hence, our rallying cry is that polluters pay for climate justice.

Furthermore, in the context of the ongoing negotiations, we demand the following calls to action to COP19:

  • An immediate decision must be taken to provide the remaining US$2.4 billion, in order to implement the LDC National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) to address the urgent needs of the LDCs 
  • Expedite the modalities of “direct access” to the LDC Fund (LDCF) that have already been agreed for the speedy NAPA implementation.
  • Ensure the adaptation funds are new and additional, predictable, sustainable, publicly-funded and in the form of grants NOT loans.
  • Developed countries fulfill their pledge to urgently mobilise the Green Climate Fund - which is still an empty shell –and ensure it is LDC-responsive, democratic and accountable, and upholds the principles of equitable and direct access.
  • GCF should capitalise 50% of $100 billion towards adaptation, of which 70% of the fund should be dedicated to LDCs.
  • Before 2020, establish a source dedicated to fund adaptation apart from CDM revenues that are diminishing and cover the large sums of money required than already pledged so far for adaptation.
  • Set up a special trust fund for loss and damage established through financial support from developed countries on the basis of Climate Justice.
  • Eradicate intellectual property barriers to technology sharing.
  • The new 2015 agreement, which comes into force in 2020, must have a clear roadmap by 2014 and must be legally-binding.
  • The UNFCCC process should be gender balanced in order to ensure awareness of gender-related concerns and issues associated with climate change.
  • Put the interests of people before profits, particularly given the corporate capture of the ongoing negotiations