Close  

Nations agree milestone rulebook for Paris climate treaty

/ 06:39 AM December 16, 2018
20181216 Poland Cop24 Climate Change

Iran’s head of delegation Majid Shafiepour Motlagh (left), China’s top climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua (center) and COP24 president Michal Kurtyka (right) shake hands together at the end of the final session of the COP24 summit on climate change in Katowice, southern Poland, on December 15, 2018. AFP

KATOWICE, Poland – Nations on Sunday struck a deal to breathe life into the landmark 2015 Paris climate treaty after marathon UN talks that failed to match the ambition the world’s most vulnerable countries need to avert dangerous global warming.

Delegates from nearly 200 states finalized a common rulebook designed to deliver the Paris goals of limiting global temperature rises to well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).

ADVERTISEMENT

“Putting together the Paris agreement work program is a big responsibility,” said COP24 president Michal Kurtyka as he gaveled through the deal after talks in Poland that ran deep into overtime.

“It has been a long road. We did our best to leave no one behind.”

FEATURED STORIES

But states already dealing with devastating floods, droughts and extreme weather made worse by climate change said the package agreed in the mining city of Katowice lacked the bold ambition to cut emissions the world needed.

Egyptian ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, chair of a the G77 & China negotiating bloc, said the rule book saw the “urgent adaptation needs of developing countries relegated to a second-class status.”

Executive director of Greenpeace Jennifer Morgan said: “We continue to witness an irresponsible divide between the vulnerable island states and impoverished countries pitted against those who would block climate action or who are immorally failing to act fast enough.”

The final decision text was repeatedly delayed as negotiators sought guidelines that could ward off the worst threats posed by our heating planet while protecting the economies of rich and poor nations alike.

“Without a clear rulebook, we won’t see how countries are tracking, whether they are actually doing what they say they are doing,” Canada’s Environment Minister Catherine McKenna told AFP.

At their heart, negotiations were about how each nation funds action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as how those actions are reported.

Report controversy

Developing nations wanted more clarity from richer ones over how the future climate fight will be funded and pushed for so-called “loss and damage” measures.

ADVERTISEMENT

This would see richer countries giving money now to help deal with the effects of climate change many vulnerable states are already experiencing.

Another contentious issue was the integrity of carbon markets, looking ahead to the day when the patchwork of distinct exchanges — in China, the Europe Union, parts of the United States — may be joined up in a global system.

The Paris Agreement calls for setting up a mechanism to guard against practices, such as double counting emissions savings, that could undermine such a market.

A major sticking point, delegates eventually agreed Saturday to kick the issue down the road until next year.

One veteran observer told AFP Poland’s presidency at COP24 had left many countries out of the process and presented at-risk nations with a “take it or leave it” deal.

Progress had “been held up by Brazil, when it should have been held up by the small islands. It’s tragic.”

One of the largest disappointments for countries of all wealths and sizes was the lack of ambition to reduce emissions shown in the final COP24 text.

Most nations wanted the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to form a key part of future planning.

‘The system must change’

It highlighted the need to slash carbon pollution by nearly half before 2030 in order to hit the 1.5C target.

But the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait objected, leading to watered-down wording.

The final statement from the Polish COP24 presidency welcomed “the timely conclusion” of the report and invited “parties to make use of it” — hardly the ringing endorsement many nations had called for.

“There’s been a shocking lack of response to the 1.5 report,” Greenpeace’s Morgan, told AFP. “You can’t come together and say you can’t do more!”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who made three trips to Katowice over the course of the talks, said the world’s climate fight was just beginning.

“From now on my five priorities will be: Ambition, ambition, ambition, ambition, ambition,” he said in a message read out by UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa.

With the political climate process well into its third decade sputtering on as emissions rise remorselessly, activists have stepped up grassroots campaigns of civil disobedience to speed up action.

“We are not a one-off protest, we are a rebellion,” a spokesman for the Extinction Rebellion movement, which disrupted at least one ministerial event at the COP, told AFP.

“We are organizing for repeated disruption, and we are targeting our governments, calling for the system change needed to deal with the crisis that we are facing.” /cbb

Read Next
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Climate Change, coal, Global warming, news, Paris agreement, Poland, rulebook, UN talks
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.


© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.