The ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP24, in Poland is experiencing several roadblocks over implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Due to the deadlock, United Nations Secretary General António Guterres returned to Poland on Wednesday, and challenged government leaders gathered in Katowice to come to a consensus and “finish the job”.
Since December 2, the conference has brought together a number of climate change decision-makers, advocates, and activists, with a primary objective to adopt global guidelines for the 197 parties of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
With only three days left for negotiations, Guterres regretted that “despite progress in the negotiating texts, much remains to be done”.
“Key political issues remain unresolved,” Guterres said in a statement. “This is not surprising—we recognize the complexity of this work. But we are running out of time,” he warned, referring to the alarming special report on global warming issued in October by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Guterres urged negotiators to boost their ambition, with regards to “predictable and accessible financial flows for the economic transition towards a low-emission and climate-resilient world.”
The UN climate summit comes at a crucial juncture in our response to global warming. The smaller, poorer nations are calling on richer states to fully implement the promises made in the 2015 Paris agreement.
Why is it so difficult to reach an agreement?
The year 2018 was chosen by the parties themselves as the deadline for the adoption of implementation guidelines, or a “work programme” mentioned in the Paris Agreement. The 197 parties of the UN Climate Chance Convention (UNFCCC) gathered to agree on how they will achieve the Paris commitments collectively, build trust among each nation, and implement the 2015 agreements.
As 197 members have to come to a consensus, there are bound to be some disagreements. The first point of tension can be that some countries feel the need to act on climate change more acutely than others. Additionally, industrialized countries have benefitted from an economy that had no limits on greenhouse gas emissions, which means that they should shoulder a bigger onus when it comes to reversing climate change.
Furthermore, climate action requires new technology, infrastructure, and skills – this represents a cost that some nations are unable to carry alone. In Paris, donor nations committed to mobilising $100 billion every year to fund climate action in developing countries, beginning in 2020. Moreover, a lack of clarity of what constitutes “climate finance” has rendered some financial contributions ineffective.
Important agreements at COP24
As world leaders prepare to reach a consensus on the Paris Agreement at COP24, here are some important agreements that were finalised at the summit.
Investors want tougher policies
Institutional investors who are concerned about climate change have teamed up to ask governments to set tougher policies.
A group of 415 investors overseeing $32 trillion in assets has signed a letter asking governments to phase out thermal coal, set a price on carbon emissions, and end fossil-fuel subsidies. The signatories, including Allianz SE, HSBC Global Asset Management, and Schroders Plc, have presented the agreement in conjunction with the COP24 global-climate conference in Poland.
The fund managers said climate change could cause economic damage that could have a major impact on their holdings, and that government policy was key in reducing risk.
Guidelines to help migrants
The nations at the conference agreed to consider new policies on climate migration, and approved a set of guidelines aimed at helping migrants who are driven from their homes due to climate change.
The guidelines were developed by the UN’s Task Force on Displacement, which includes 13 representatives from both rich and poor countries. The panel was established as part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, and was aimed at specifically exploring ways to “avert, minimize, and address” human displacement due to climate change.
Sports industry to tackle climate change
The COP24 saw the launch of The Sports for Climate Action Framework in an effort to garner support from sports organizations, athletes, and fans in raising awareness as well as pushing for climate-resilient action.
The framework was launched with an aim to reduce emissions generated by the sports industry and raise awareness among sports fans. Through the framework, sports organisations recognize the need to achieve net-zero emissions, and meet Paris Agreement goals.
The event’s founding signatories include the International Olympic Committee (IOC), FIFA, International Sailing Federation, World Surfing League, Forest Green Rovers Football Club, the French Tennis Federation (Roland Garros), Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, and Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.
The IOC also released ‘Carbon Footprint Methodology for the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games’, which can help organising committees in measuring the carbon footprint of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
US, Russia, Saudi Arabia criticised as “climate villains”
The US and Russia threw climate talks into disarray by allying with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to water down approval of a landmark report on the need to keep global warming below 1.5 degree Celsius.
Experts were quick to condemn the four nations as “climate villains” after their efforts plunged talks into chaos at the COP24. The four nations blocked the full endorsement of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s report, which was commissioned at a previous COP meeting.
The move has raised fears among scientists that US president, Donald Trump, is transitioning from passively withdrawing from climate talks to actively rejecting them along with other climate change deniers.
What India said at COP24?
Speaking at the COP24, India on the night of December 12 said the Paris climate agreement was ‘non-negotiable’ and that there should not be any compromise on the basic principles such as equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR-RC), PTI reported.
“We all agree that the Paris Agreement is non-negotiable. Therefore, the delicate balance reached between developed and developing countries must be retained, and the principles such as equity and Common but Differentiated Responsibility and Respective Capabilities must be given its due,” India said at the ministerial session of the environmental summit, as per an India Today report.
Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, on Monday, expressed confidence that India will achieve all its targets to tackle climate change ahead of the deadlines it had set for itself, as reported by the Indian Express.
“We will achieve all our targets ahead of our schedule,” Vardhan said. “There is no question about that. We are doing much more than we were expected to do,” as per the Indian Express report.
One of India’s commitments was that by the year 2030, about 40 percent of its installed energy capacity would be ‘non-fossil fuel’.
Anand Kumar, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), said that the country today has 73 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, with another 22 gigawatts in the pipeline. Another 25 gigawatts will be auctioned out soon.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius