After two weeks of intense negotiations at the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, officials from almost 200 countries reached a consensus on universal, transparent rules that will govern efforts to reduce emissions and curb global warming. In other words, the countries have reached a consensus over a rulebook to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement goals.
The deal was reached on Saturday and it enables countries to put into action the principles in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
However, even though a deal was reached, environmental activists and some countries who were urging more ambitious climate goals, have expressed dissatisfaction as negotiators delayed decisions on two key issues until next year in an effort to secure a deal on them.
Over the last two weeks, delegates from nearly 200 countries were busy developing a set of rules to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, wherein they agreed to limit the rise in global warming to well under 2°C over pre-industrial levels by 2100.
“We have been working on this package for three years. When we have to deal with positions of almost 200 Parties, it is not easy to find an agreement concerning a multi-aspect and technical deal. Under these circumstances, each step forward was a great achievement. And I thank you for that. We can be proud of ourselves,” COP24 President Michał Kurtyka said during the plenary session.
Kurtyka added, “Our common efforts didn’t consist solely of producing texts or defending national interests. We were conscious of our responsibility to people and commitment for the fate of Earth, which is our home and the home of future generations who will come after us.”
What was agreed upon?
The Paris rulebook was at the centre of talks at COP24. The rulebook basically details an “operating manual” that is needed for the Paris Agreement to enter into force in 2020. During its formation in 2015, it was mandated that the Agreement had to be finalised by the end of the 2018 climate summit.
The rulebook covers several questions, such as how countries should report their greenhouse gas emissions or contributions to climate finance, as well as what rules should apply to voluntary market mechanisms, such as carbon trading.
Countries settled on mostof the tricky elements of the “rulebook” for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement. This includes how governments will measure, report on, and verify their emissions-cutting efforts. This is a key element as it ensures that all countries are held to proper standards and will find it difficult to turn away from their commitments.
Governments at the COP24 also agreed to the ‘Katowice Climate Package’—a set of guidelines designed to operationalise the climate change regime contained in the Paris Agreement. The Katowice package includes guidelines that will operationalise the transparency framework. It outlines the way in which countries will provide information about their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that describe their domestic climate actions. This information includes mitigation and adaptation measures as well as details of financial support for climate action in developing countries.
What have activists said?
Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna and some environmental activists have been highlighting that more action is needed to combat climate change despite Saturday’s deal.
Furthermore, some environmental groups and certain countries expressed frustration that more ambitious climate goals were not achieved during negotiations.
“The majority of the rulebook for the Paris agreement has been created, which is something to be thankful for,” Mohamed Adow, a climate policy expert at Christian Aid, told CBC.
McKenna, who was in Katowice attending the COP24 along with other Canadian negotiators, said in a statement on Saturday that, though she is pleased with the outcome, “more work remains over the next year,” as per the CBC report.
Despite a deal being reached, negotiators delayed decisions on two key issues until next year. These include a decision on the mechanics of an emissions trading system, and the issue of setting more ambitious targets due to recent data showing a worsening trend in climate change.
What is India’s stance?
The most critical of the 27 Articles in the Paris Agreement is finance. India seems satisfied with what the rulebook says with regards to this.
Now, there are two broad aspects to the aspect of finance. One, where the developed countries shall provide clarity on the quantum of funds that would be made available to developing countries’ efforts to fight climate change (under Article 9.5). India is satisfied with this level of detailing in the report, an Indian negotiator said.
The second aspect is where developed countries are to state,under Article 9.7, how much funding they have provided. India seems satisfiedwith this aspect as well, but some independent observers, such as Harjeet Singh, from the NGO ActionAid, noted that India should have bargained more.
“Rich countries have a moral and legal responsibility to provide money and technology to developing countries to make their economies greener. Instead of taking this seriously, they pushed through a rulebook riddled with loopholes allowing them to avoid this responsibility,” Singh said, BusinessLine reported.
India seems satisfied with the rulebook. However, some independent observers remain unhappy that there’s inadequate emphasis on the adaptation finance needed for developing countries to cope with effects of climate change and ‘loss and damage.’
The UN will meet again in 2019 in Chile to finalise the final elements of the Paris rulebook and begin work on future emissions targets.
But 2020 is where the key conference will happen, wherein countries must meet the deadline for their current emissions commitments and produce new targets for 2030 and beyond which are driven towards meeting scientific advice.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius