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12/04/2018

COP24, a climate summit in Europe's coal capital

Governments, companies and other actors are meeting in Katowice to advance in the fight against climate change.

COP24, a climate summit in Europe's coal capital

 

The emissions reduction flag has reached Poland, where coal is known as "black gold". Poland, which is hosting the climate summit on 3-14 December, produces 80 % of its electricity from coal. Three years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, the city of Katowice plays host to representatives of nearly 200 countries, companies and civil society in an effort to advance in combating climate change.carbon poland katowice cop24

This summit, COP24, will be shaped in particular by two developments in recent months that will guide and drive the negotiations.

One is the European Commission's strategy to achieve carbon neutrality (i.e. net zero carbon emissions) by 2050. The other is the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It sets out the risks and impact of a 1.5°C increase in temperature, and concludes that limiting global warming to 1.5°C requires that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions be reduced by approximately 45 % from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching carbon neutrality around 2050.

In fact, all the efforts of the countries, as set out in their climate plans (NDCs) that they delivered when ratifying the Paris Agreement (184 to date), will not be sufficient to achieve the Agreement's main goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C (…) and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C. With this sense of urgency in the air, the following can be expected from COP24:

Setting the ground rules

As indicated in the Paris Agreement, all countries must decide on the ground rules, what is known as the Paris Rulebook, for implementing the Agreement. This work, which started in 2015, must be concluded at this summit, producing clear, robust rules that enable countries to advance in this collective ambition.

It is important to standardise procedures for measuring, assessing scopes and, above all, guiding the countries, particularly those that did not implement the Kyoto Protocol's reporting structures.

More ambitious goals

Through the Talanoa Dialogue conducted over the last twelve months and concluding at this summit, more ambitious goals are expected to be adopted to step up the process of decarbonising the economy. This process is important in order to lead to enhanced national climate commitments (NDCs) in 2020.

Maintain the momentum of the Paris Agreement

Despite the announcement by the US that it would abandon the Agreement, which has not yet taken effect, the countries must act in coordination to evidence a firm commitment and maintain the momentum in the fight against climate change. Oversight of the negotiations by non-governmental actors will be particularly interesting, as will the drive towards climate action shown in public announcements by companies, NGOs, etc.

The expectations for this summit are high; the most technical part of the rules under the Agreement will be resolved, and this will be decisive for compliance and, therefore, for limiting global warming. We know that the efforts by the countries to date are insufficient; at this summit, we will see whether they are able to go one step further and accelerate climate action. As the IPCC noted in its the latest report, limiting global warming to 1.5° C will require unprecedented changes; science has shown the way; now it is the turn of the countries to take action.

 

Header image: "© cop24.gov.pl"

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