If the 2015 Paris Agreement was about making new resolutions in the fight against climate change, this year’s gathering in Katowice, Poland, is about making sure they stick.
“Without Katowice there is no Paris,” said Michał Kurtyka, president of COP24 and a Polish deputy energy minister.
On Sunday, negotiators from 197 countries will meet in the southern Polish city to hash out the rules that will govern the global effort to rein in greenhouse gases in the coming decades.
The expected outcome of the two-week COP24 climate summit is a “rule book” detailing how to make sure countries are sticking to the promises they made in Paris three years ago.
On paper, that might be easy. In practice, it’s far less simple.
Here are five factors that will make or break climate negotiations in Katowice.
1. Added urgency
Hanging over the negotiations is a U.N. scientific report urging countries to do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions or face increased risks of flooding, Arctic ice melting, sea level rise, species extinction and droughts.
Keeping global warming to the ambitious threshold of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels will require “rapid and far-reaching transitions” in energy, land, industry and infrastructure, the scientists said. The world would have to achieve “net-zero” carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, meaning as much CO2 would have to be absorbed as is emitted.
For now, the trend is headed in the opposite direction. A U.N. Environment report out Tuesday says emissions rose again in 2017, and that if countries stick with their current pledges, the globe will eventually warm by 3.2 degrees.
Countries would have to triple their current greenhouse gas reductions to keep the global rise in temperatures to below 2 degrees. For the more ambitious 1.5-degree target, these cuts need to grow fivefold, the report says.
“The Paris Agreement alone without actions at national level is paper,” said Elina Bardram, head of the EU negotiating team.
2. European divisions
The EU is bringing to Katowice a radical long-term vision. On Wednesday, the European Commission proposed achieving climate neutrality by 2050 — meaning as many greenhouse gases are emitted as are absorbed. This would make it the first large economy to embrace this goal.
“I think it’s very positive for the EU to be a first mover,” said Miguel Arias Cañete, the European commissioner in charge of energy and climate action.
The proposal will be the Commission’s contribution to a dialogue between countries on what has been done since Paris and what needs to happen going forward, scheduled for the second week of talks.
“We of course need the rules, but we also need a bit of a stress test to the credibility of this regime in terms of actual action,” said Bardram.
But EU countries are divided. A more ambitious camp — composed of France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, Italy and Spain — has expressed support for the Commission’s long-term vision, but the rest of the bloc is reluctant to sign up to more ambitious targets.
“We don’t think it is useful for the EU to constantly increase this commitment,” said one EU diplomat. “It gives the false impression to others that the situation is under control, and it is not.”
3. Economic pushback
EU governments are having a hard time selling climate protection to their electorates.
French President Emmanuel Macron is facing popular backlash over a proposed fuel price hike.
The Spanish government’s plan to ban the sale of gasoline and diesel cars after 2040 has run into opposition from the country’s automotive industry, which said that the transition away from fossil fuels should be “orderly, fair and profitable, from the social and economic point of view.”
Resistance from Germany’s powerful car industry and the country’s continued reliance on coal has shifted Berlin from a climate policy leader to a member of the go-slow brigade.
Poland is afraid that taking a tough stance on climate will hurt its economy. Coal mining and coal power plants employ 112,500, or 49 percent of all coal-related employment in the EU according to the European Commission. That’s why Warsaw is putting the accent on the need for a “just transition” to shift away from fossil fuels while not hurting jobs or the economy.
Polish President Andrzej Duda on Monday, December 3, will invite global leaders to sign a declaration calling on governments to “ensure a decent future” for workers, which is “crucial to ensure public support” for decarbonization, according to a draft declaration.
“What we want to achieve in Katowice is to demonstrate that inclusive growth … can be really beneficial for the entire planet,” said Kurtyka.
4. Rich vs. poor
The negotiations at the heart of the Katowice talks — over rules to monitor, report and compare national climate efforts — have reopened old divisions between rich and poorer countries.
While developing countries are wary of outsiders scrutinizing their efforts, the EU and other wealthy nations have long insisted on a common transparency and accountability system. This would make it possible for efforts to be tracked over time, while allowing poor countries more flexibility to comply.
It’s about ensuring that “you can trust a ton of carbon dioxide reduced in the EU to be the same as a ton of CO2 reduced in China, or Brazil or Australia,” said the EU’s climate negotiator Bardram.
Developing countries don’t want to let traditionally wealthy countries off the hook given they’ve largely caused manmade climate change over the past century.
Climate finance will be another battleground. Developing nations want advance information on the financial support they’ll get from rich countries to help them tackle climate change. But developed countries have been reluctant to tie themselves to strict reporting rules, citing unpredictable budget cycles. That’s made even more difficult by the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of most forms of climate finance.
Developed countries promised to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020; a new U.N. report finds that public and private finance from rich countries came to $70 billion in 2016.
Still, developing nations are “very dissatisfied” with the current level of information on financial support, and are afraid that some rich countries want to “backslide” on their commitments, said Reinaldo Salgado, head of the Brazilian negotiating team. This “doesn’t contribute to an atmosphere of trust,” he said.
The EU is also keen to broaden responsibility for contributing to the pot of climate finance and cutting emissions beyond the traditional club of rich nations to include emerging powerhouses such as China as well as other G20 nations generating a growing share of global pollution.
But developing countries (even relatively rich ones) don’t want to let traditionally wealthy countries off the hook given they’ve largely caused manmade climate change over the past century.
5. Lack of leadership
This is not the first time the international community has struggled to bridge the gap between what needs to be done and the political will to do it.
For years, a handful of rich countries led by the United States refused to join the global effort against climate change, on the grounds that developing countries like China weren’t being held to the same standards.
The breakthrough that paved the way to the Paris Agreement was a deal between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to reduce their countries’ greenhouse gas output.
This year, the U.S. is back on the outside, after U.S. President Donald Trump declared he plans to pull out of the Paris deal.
The EU’s climate leadership suffers from divisions among and within countries, which undercuts its international diplomatic heft.
“Who are the political leaders who will move [ahead]? I think that’s everybody’s question,” said Rachel Kyte, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for improving energy access for the poor. “We’re in desperate need of volunteers.”
The most obvious country to step into Washington’s shoes is China, but the country is just feeling out its role in the world after the current U.S. retreat, and it has neither the diplomatic capacity, nor the international trust to easily take on that challenge.
“Americans are the natural leader, Europe is too fractious, and China is not ready,” said Kyte. However, despite those issues, “It’s difficult to imagine how to move forward on any major issue without the Chinese.”
سایت تابناک از انتشار نظرات حاوی توهین و افترا و نوشته شده با حروف لاتین (فینگیلیش) معذور است.