By Wellington Sibanda
This year The 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded late on 14th December in Katowice, Poland, after two weeks of tension –filled talks. Nearly 23,000 delegates were part of the conference. Part of the items that were agreed on was starting a new international climate regime under which all countries will have to report their emissions –and progress in cutting them every two years from 2024. Despite settling on large parts of the Paris rule book, countries failed to agree on the rules for voluntary market mechanism, pushing part of the process on to next year‘s COP25 in Chile.
The UNFCCC opened on 2 December with countries set to take a big step on the way to turning the Paris Agreement into reality. Most negotiations took place in ministerial or presidency-led consultations held throughout the day on many issues related to Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP), including Talanoa Dialogue and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5C, mitigation, National Determined Contributions (NDCs), adaptation, transparency, and loss and damage.
As COP24 focused on how to advance climate efforts in light of new science, the Talanoa Dialogues and submission held through our the year took account of the progress to date in addressing climate change –and the difficult challenges ahead in delivering the Paris goal of limiting warming to 2C,with efforts to pursue 1.5C. The Paris Rulebook will set a foundation for enhancing ambition, particularly in the area of international cooperation through market approaches. Calls have been made that COP24 should finalise and adopt the Paris Agreement Rulebook, building on the outcomes from the previous meetings and bringing to a close the process started right after the adoption of the Paris Agreement.
While the Paris Agreement defined a new trend in climate thinking, Katowice Rulebook is expected to develop tools to implement its finding said COP24 President, Michal Kurtyka. He further mentioned that we need rules, transparent, implementable and the system of support for the road they asked to take. Just like the global community needs the right global policy environment to move forward with its climate action. Act Alliance held a stunt during lunch time near the entrance to zone B as we shared our call to stop the earth’s temperature from rising by asking passers by to “Act now for climate justice”. We urgently need action to keep global temperature below 1.5C, and create a just and safe earth for all. Delegates were invited to read the following text; Increase a safe and just earth for all we need.
- Climate finance that is based on principles of transparency, fairness and solidarity.
- Climate finance that is new, not re-branded developmental aid.
- That doesn’t create a climate debt.
- Climate finance to be provided immediately.
- Gender Justice to be at the heart of climate discussion and applied at the local, national, regional, global levels.
- For adaptation to remain the key pillar for climate action.
- National Adaption Plans that are rights-based.
- New forms of Climate to address the needs of Loss and Damage.
- A rule book with the ambition to keep Global warming below 1.5 degree.
- A rule book that enhances transparency and accountability particularly of finance and mitigation action.
- A rule book that builds trust and confidence among countries. The poorest and most vulnerable countries must be provided with financial support to develop and implement strategies, including technological transfer and cooperation.
The just concluded COP24 confirms the vast disconnect between ambition, urgency for action on climate change, and political will of key governments. COP24 failed to deliver the best possible outcome to the most vulnerable people in the world. One has to note that that loss and damage is included in the document to guide the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
In the largest civil society demonstration at COP24, Hundreds of people gather on the steps, asking delegates which side are you on and saying that they stand with people not polluters. I joined the ecumenical family and civil society as thousands of activist marched on December 8 through the streets of Katowice, calling for climate justice. In an Open letter to the UNFCC Executive secretariat and the UN Secretary General by the Chair of the Least Developed Countries Group in the UNFCCC stated that:
“Science is not up for negotiation. The IPCC’s special report on 1.5 is one of the most robust pieces of scientific literature on the issue of climate change. Informed by more that 42 0000 expert and government comments. We are in a planetary emergency and the longer we waste time in negotiation room not acknowledging this fact, we do so at the cost of our people and communities. Yet the IPCC special report also confirms that there is still hope to achieve the 1.5 c goal with rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society and indicates paths forward to achieve this”
In the end of the adoption of the Paris Rule Book was welcomed but global climate action is still inadequate. Paris Rule book was renamed Katowice Rule Book. Which serves as the operating manual needed when the global deal enters into force in 2020. The special report on the impact of 1.5 C global warming, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2018, became a major source of tension at the talks, at the end of the first week, four countries the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait delayed the conclusion of a technical plenary by refusing to welcome the report instead only wanted to note it, which triggered a clause which means the resolution has been postponed until the next Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) session in 2019.
The IPCC 1.5 report had been originally formally requested by counteract the 2015 climate talks in Paris, and despite the majority of counties speaking in favour of the report. Now that COP24 is over, a key moment next year will be the UN Climate Summit set to take place in September in New York. COP25 is due to take Chile next November. If there is one takeaway from COP24 is that we have to push our governments harder to make the transition to a 1.5 C world. We can’t get complacent.