Friday, 18 January, 2019

COP24 agreement sidesteps financial issues

India Expresses Officials Agree On Universal Rules To Curb Global Warming At Katowice, Poland Conference
Theresa Hayes | 18 December, 2018, 14:56

Almost 200 countries overcame political divisions to agree on rules for implementing a landmark global climate deal, but critics say it is not ambitious enough to prevent the unsafe effects of global warming.

Anticipating the need for more debate, organizers prepared to extend the meeting, which was supposed to end Friday, until Sunday.

Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), hailed the achievement at the Katowice conference.

"In Katowice, countries made important progress toward realizing the promise of the Paris Agreement - in particular by adopting strong rules requiring countries to transparently report their greenhouse gas emissions and progress toward meeting their national commitments", read a statement from Nathaniel Keohane, vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund. The guidelines agreed at COP 24 include key agreements on programmes financing for projects aimed at keeping global warming below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.

"We will all have to give in order to gain", he said.

"If necessary, we will rebel against the negotiations", Nasheed told reporters.

Among the key pitfalls to emerge overnight was the question of how to establish a functioning worldwide market in carbon credits and whether some countries should get money for damage already caused by climate change.

Dubbed the "Zombie of Kyoto" by some, it pits emerging economies such as Brazil, which amassed large piles of carbon credits under the 1997 treaty's rules, against industrialized blocs like the European Union, which believe the older credits aren't worth the paper they were printed on. Economists believe that an worldwide trading system could be an effective way to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and raise large amounts of money for measures to curb global warming.

"We need to avoid straying from the principles and spirit of the Paris Agreement".

When it came to closing potential loopholes that could allow countries to dodge their commitments to cut emissions, "the USA pushed harder than almost anyone else for transparency rules that put all countries under the same system, and it's largely succeeded". But it's less clear on how a pledge of €90 billion to poorer countries will be financed - or on how a carbon credit scheme might work.

Poor countries also secured assurances on getting greater predictability about financial support to help them cut emissions, adapt to inevitable changes - such as sea level rises - and pay for damages that have already happened.

Before the talks started, many expected that the deal would not be as robust as is needed as the unity which underpinned the Paris talks has fragmented and one of the worlds biggest emitters, the United States, still intends to leave the pact when it can formally do so in 2020.

Delegates at the COP24 said China has been at the forefront of the challenging negotiations, working hard with various parties to untangle some of the key points of contention.

Johan Rockstrom, a scientist who helps to lead the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, called the agreement "a relief". "But I do not know how it will be this time".

"Parties have also agreed to initiate the work on setting up the new collective finance goals post-2020 from the floor of United States dollars 100 billion", it said.

One veteran observer told AFP that 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.

"This is morally unacceptable and they must now carry with them the outrage of people and come to the UN Secretary General's summit in 2019 with higher climate action targets", the Greenpeace director added.