COP 24: Limited progress but there is still hope in the fight against climate change

Published 19th December 2018 by Rachel Hunter

After last-minute discussions saw the extension of negotiations in Katowice, Poland, COP24 finally came to a close before the Christmas break. Three years after the signing of the Paris Agreement, which was a turning point in the fight against climate change and provided hope for climate action, COP 24 was supposed to be the pivotal conference for hammering out the details of how the Paris Agreement is to be delivered: the “rulebook”. Instead, COP 24 has been a disappointment both in terms of the detail of the rulebook and the failure by some nations to agree to welcome the findings of the IPCC report.

Let’s begin with the positive. COP 24 saw progress made on three important areas:

  • Work was done on the definition of common reporting rules, the establishment of registers to submit national contributions and adaptation action
  • There was also progress made on the establishment of expert groups, consultation on a fair transition and job creation
  • Progress was also made on assistance to developing countries through the process of updating contributions of the Green Fund by 2020

There were of course areas that needed more progress than was made at the COP. These include:

  • The failure to work out the details of cooperation mechanisms and carbon markets under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Required at this COP was a definition of a “market mechanisms” which has been postponed to the next COP. What was agreed on this issue lacks clarity and seems to be unambitious.
  • Four nations (USA, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia), were unwilling to accept the findings of the IPCC report published earlier this year which provides the scientific analysis and insight on the reality of climate change. These nations blocked acceptance of the findings and there the IPCC report was officially acknowledged only for its timely submission. With global emissions up 2-3% and the world on an ever increasing warming trajectory, this looks like the objective of the Paris Agreement is moving further away.

It’s difficult to say that COP 24 has delivered the rulebook for the Paris Agreement. There have been a number of developments on specific points of the Paris Agreement, but not the creation of a complete rulebook.

Although it may be too much to hope for global political leadership on climate action in the current international political context, it’s essential and this was something lacking from this year’s Conference of Parties.

Given this, we know that it’s more important than ever that businesses, communities and citizens take responsibility for the delivery of effective change in the short and long term. We cannot wait for states to be bold and take leadership – we must collectively act now.


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