The 24th annual UNFCCC conference kicks off on Monday. It is the turn of a wintry Poland to play host to what will be the most significant meeting yet for the 192 states involved in the Paris Agreement. The fate of our climate will be in the hands of these parties next week as we hope for clarity, consensus and an adequately ambitious outcome. Indeed, in the year of the IPCC’s 1.5-degree report and a slew of extreme weather events, an outcome that is not ambitious, will call into serious question our ability to collaborate successfully as a global community to avert the dire consequences of climate change.
The stakes are high and as we see it, there are two major tasks faced by the parties: to produce the Rulebook of the Paris Agreement and to further develop the facilitative Dialogue, named the Talanoa Dialogue. Let’s break down these two tasks and summarise the outcomes we’re anticipating.
Writing the Rulebook
The year 2020 is when the Paris Agreement must come into force. The purpose of the rulebook is to define a set of applicable and detailed rules for its implementation in little over a year’s time. To meet the ambitions of the agreement, rules will need to be set out to provide clarity and ensure that climate action is adequately anchored into the real economy and national governance.
Many decisions are expected to be made at COP24. So far the Paris Agreement provides only general principles and objectives for each of its chapters. It doesn’t yet tell us in any detail what, when and how. This is ultimately, what we are hoping to get next week.
In order to do this, the parties will also need to:
- Harmonise the content and the timings of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of each signatory state according to specific emissions sources e.g greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from Agriculture & Forestry (LULUCF)
- Organise the global 5-year stocktake of GHG emission to monitor reduction efforts
- Establish the transparency framework
- Structure international cooperation mechanisms for the mobilisation of the allocated US$100 billion, technology transfers and capacity building between developed and developing countries.
This will be a lot of work, and no doubt significant negotiation, between so many international states. Consequently, it is unlikely that all the elements will be decided and set out in full at COP24. We’d expect the terms to continue to be developed over the course of the 2019 programme of work. However, these technical points must be decided, and the rulebook written, before the end of next year to make the Paris Agreement effectively operational in 2020.
The Talanoa Dialogue
At COP23, countries agreed to launch in 2018 a “facilitative dialogue” to assess the way forward to achieve carbon neutrality as stipulated in the Paris Agreement. This is called the Talanoa Dialogue.
The aim of it is to facilitate an inclusive, participative, transparent and solution-orientated process in order to answer 3 questions:
- Where are we?
- Where do we want to go?
- How can we do it?
Next week the dialogue will move from its preparatory phase to its political phase, when parties will take stock of contributions from stakeholders this year. It is from this we hope to gain more clarity on those three important questions.
We stand before a monumental task but one that is possible. All hopes are pinned on next week to solidify our collective efforts to write the rule book on global climate action and to save our planet.