11 November 2013, UNFCCC COP 19, Warsaw Poland - Sobering messages were delivered at the opening of the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework to Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland today.
Findings of the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were presented by the Chairman of the IPCC, Dr. Rachendra Pachauri, strengthening the call for urgent action.
According to the overview, each of the three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850 and it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
Since the early 1970's, glacier mass loss and ocean thermal expansion from warming together explain about 75% of the observed global mean sea level rise.
"Mahatma Gandhi said A technological society has two choices. First, it can wait until catastrophic failures expose systematic deficiencies, distortion, and self-deceptions...secondly, a culture can provide social checks and balances to correct for systematic distortions prior to catastrophic failures" said Dr. Pachauri.
"I hope this would be the kind of direction in which our discussions would take place supported by the science and findings that we have brought up in the report of the IPCC."
On the 95th anniversary of independence for Poland the President of the UNFCCC COP 19 called for the world to close ranks and act together, referring to the typhoon tragedy in the Philippines as an 'awakening'.
"I say awakening because it is yet another proof that we are losing this unequal struggle between man and nature. It got the better of us yet again, and will continue to do so in the future if we do not close ranks and act together to strike back. Climate is a global issue, global problem and global opportunity at the same time," said His Excellency, Mr. Marcin Korolec during his opening statement.
"It is a problem if we cannot concert our efforts. It becomes an opportunity where we can act together. One country or group cannot make a difference but acting together, united as we are here, we can do it."
All 14 Pacific Island Countries that are members of the UNFCCC are represented at the global conference on climate change, as well as delegates from Tokelau who are attending as part of the New Zealand delegation.
Although they contribute to less than 1% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions, the Pacific islands are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
It's here in Warsaw, Poland that the Pacific region is hopeful their voice will be heard and action is taken to help lower global temperatures.
Ms. Christiana Figueres the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC called for a level playing field in the face of climate change.
"There is no doubt that climate change has created an unlevel playing field for future generations. Previous generations unknowingly had an advantage; and now we know that future generations face a monumental uphill struggle. We must urgently level the playing field."
The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992, which sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has 195 parties.
This year the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention to Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 19) is hosted by Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 22 November.
To access the opening statements of the COP 19 please visit: http://unfccc.int/meetings/warsaw_nov_2013/statements/items/7948.php