After two weeks of negotiation, delegates at the UN talks on climate change have agreed upon the rules and guidelines for the implementation of the Paris Climate Accord. The agreement commits the world to keeping global warming “well below” 2°C relative to pre-industrial times, and preferably within 1.5°C.
Officials from nearly 200 countries were present for the talks, which began on December 2 in the Polish town of Katowice. The talks, also known as ‘Conference of Parties 24’ or ‘COP24’ were due to conclude on December 14, but were met with a 30-hour delay after Brazil objected to proposed changes to the accounting system for monitoring of carbon credits. The South American nation wanted to keep the carbon credits it had amassed under an old scheme, that some nations have claimed was not credible or transparent. These discussions have now been deferred until next year.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report also resulted in a delay in negotiations. The report, commissioned at the 2015 conference, was initially set to be “welcomed” by the conference but was met with contention from oil exporting countries the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who objected to the use of the word “welcome” in relation to the reports findings. Under UN rules as no consensus was reached the passage was not included.
COP24 did see developing nations receive re-assurances that richer countries would help pay for their effort to curb their greenhouse-gas emissions, as well as assist them to adapt to the impacts of climate change, including shifting weather patterns that impacts on food supply and rising sea levels. The new regulations are also “flexible” for developing nations, meaning they can sign up to the rules as a later time.
However, the talks were not able to achieve agreement on the key issues of the mechanics of an emissions trading system and the issue of raising ambitions on climate change, which have also been postponed until talks next year.
Despite the deferring of discussions on key topics, the talks have been viewed as a success, as a key aim of the conference was achieved. “Through this package, you have made a thousand little steps forward together,”said Michal Kurtyka, the president of the talks. “We have taken a big step towards achieving the ambitions set in the Paris Agreement. Ambitions thanks to which our children will look back at some point and consider that their parents made the right decisions in an important historical moment.”