chineAuthor: Ilaria Urbani – 16/12/2018
Governors in Poland have finally reached an agreement on a range of measures that will make the Paris climate pact operational in 2020. Even though last-minute disputes over carbon markets delayed the two-week summit by a day. However, the ‘Katowice Climate Package’ has been agreed and it is designed to operationalize the climate change regime contained in the Paris Agreement. It includes guidelines on the process for establishing new targets on finance from 2025 to support developing countries. It also explains how to assess progress on the development and transfer of technology and finally, it strengthens the transparency framework setting out how 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.
However, countries did not agree on everything and power positions stood out. Indeed, after a standoff between Brazil and a coalition of European and climate-vulnerable countries, a package of rules on trading carbon credits across borders was deferred to 2019. Brazil was pushing for unconstrained rules to benefit its carbon offset industry, which the latter group said undermined the environmental integrity of the Paris Agreement. Since Jair Bolsonaro, incoming president of Brazil, tends to favour business interests over environmental protection, it may be questioned how they will find a common solution next year.
Brazil was not the only country to challenge the negotiations. Indeed, Donald Trump’s shadow looms large over the conference when US aligned with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia to question the importance of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s scientific findings and blocked its full endorsement.
The just released IPCC report revealed the unprecedented global action required to stop global warming exceeding 1.5C and avoid the worst effects of climate change. When its conclusions were formally presented during the conference, the group of oil producers disagreed with the meeting “welcoming” the report and they opted for the weaker pledge to “take note” of the IPCC’s findings. As no consensus could be reached, the text ultimately had to be dropped. Despite the coalition of oil producers held back from making stronger pledges to cut fossil fuels and emissions – a crucial step to limiting warming to 1.5C as the IPCC report recommends, a group of nations including the EU formed a high ambition coalition pledging to further cut emissions and help poorer countries achieve their own climate targets.
Besides the expected US hostility towards climate action, an unexpected move has been made by Chinese government. Indeed, China agreed to applying “uniform” climate change rules across developing and developed countries. It marked a clear shift towards the EU’ big ask for a system that gives poorer countries time to comply with the rules, with a firm end date. Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative on climate change affirmed that ¨developing countries have varied levels of capabilities, some might need greater flexibilities, while others could voluntarily do more and accept uniform standards. With more support given to them and enhanced capabilities for these developing countries, they will be able to meet their requirements earlier and faster.”
To conclude, many developed countries pledged their financial support to enable developing countries to act and that is why the Katowice Climate Package has been considered as a victory for multilateralism. However, it is worth stressing COP24 did not match the expectations of all since some countries still put their national wellbeing in front of the global one and until they do not put efforts to make a real shift of the paradigm there will not be any COP with an outstanding and effective outcome.