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The meeting COP24 made progress on regulating the Paris agreement , but "carbon markets" remained blocked.
Mobilisations for governments to take more drastic action on climate change can make us forget that many countries are taking real steps to reduce greenhouse gases. Although international summits often fall short of expectations, climate agreements are gradually making headway. Here are the results of the last such summit: a small step, admittedly, but a step forward.
Plenary session of COP24, held in December in Katowice (Poland) [COP24].
article / Sandra Redondo
The climate summit (also known as COP: Conference of the Parties) is a global lecture prepared by the United Nations, where measures and actions related to climate policy are negotiated. The last one, dubbed COP24, took place from 2 to 14 December 2018, in the Polish city of Katowice. It was attended by around 3,000 delegates from 197 countries that are party to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change framework . Among them were politicians, representatives of non-governmental organisations, members of the academic community and the business sector.
The first COP took place in 1995, and since then these summits have led to the creation of the Kyotoprotocol (COP3, 1997) and the Parisagreement (COP21, 2015), among other mechanisms for international action. The main goal of the quotation in Katowice was to find a way to implement the 2015 Paris agreement , i.e. to implement cuts in pollutant emissions to avoid an increase in global warming. COP24 was the last summit before 2020, when the Paris agreement will enter into force.
goal The 2015 Paris Agreement agreement was signed by 194 countries with the aim of preventing pollutant emissions, which cause the greenhouse effect, from increasing the planet's temperature above two degrees Celsius Degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. Degrees The international community is calling for a concerted effort to ensure that the temperature increase does not exceed 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. The summit aimed to create a clear, concrete and common outline to be followed by all countries in order to make agreement a reality.
One of the challenges in achieving this goal lies in establishing a balance that allows all nations to participate in this struggle, but taking into account the reality of each one of them: the different technological and financial capacities, as well as the circumstances of vulnerability and historical contamination. As countries with great differences among them are involved, the task of reaching consensus is understandably difficult. This was one of the measures intended to be implemented from the Paris agreement , in which governments pledged to help countries at development to achieve greater and more permanent adaptation.
In the words of Patricia Espinosa, UN Climate Change Executive administrative assistant , in addition to measures to make the Paris agreement effective, it is important to "promote a cultural change in the ways our societies produce and consume in order to rethink our models of development".
Wang Yi, China's foreign minister, said that his country reaffirms that only a joint work among all countries will provide an effective solution in the fight against climate change.
At these summits, agreements must be accepted by all participating states, which can cause negotiations to drag on. This is what happened at COP24. Negotiations were scheduled to end on Friday, but dragged on until the final agreement was reached the following day. The final text, C by all countries in attendance, turned out to be less ambitious than expected, especially on reference letter on greenhouse gas emission cuts.
Despite the declarations of willingness of some countries, certain tensions were inevitable in the negotiations, especially when it came to the assumption that more ambition is needed in this fight. On the one side was the conservative side, with countries such as the United States (which is one of the countries that contributes the most CO2 per capita to global warming) and Saudi Arabia among others. On the other side were the European Union and other states, some of them island states, threatened by rising sea levels, which will continue to rise as a result of rising global temperatures.
Another cause of delay was a demand from Turkey at the last minute to improve financing conditions. With regard to financing, the final agreement acknowledges that more resources need to be devoted to this fight, particularly to the reduction of greenhouse gases.
report of the International Panel on Change
In addition to the measures and cuts that were agreed at this summit, a declaration was to be made with the conclusions of the experts'report group Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which would warn that the world does not have much time left to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
This report, which was one of the big battles of the summit, details what will happen if the global temperature rises 1.5 Degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels. Currently the temperature is one Degree above pre-industrial levels. Despite the fact that it should have been considered of great importance by all countries, given that these are facts that affect the world, there were countries such as Russia, Kuwait, the United States and Saudi Arabia, which tried to play down its importance and raised doubts about the veracity of the conclusions of the report, while other states defended the unquestionability of the conclusions. A common characteristic of these opposing countries is that they are the world's major oil producers.
The report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), presented at COP24, indicates that, if no change continues, between 2030 and 2050, these will be the consequences:
-Increase in flood risk from 100% (at 1.5°C) to 170% (at 2°C).
-If we exceed 1.5°C, more than 400 million people living in cities will be exposed to extreme droughts by the end of the century.
Arctic ice will decrease so much that there will be an ice-free summer at least once every 10 years.
-150 million deaths could be avoided by limiting this 1.5°C temperature rise.
-Nearly 50 million people could be affected by a sea level rise by 2100 if the temperature increase exceeds 1.5°C.
-Corals would be among the worst affected, as they would all be lost by 2100 if the 1.5°C rise is exceeded due to rising ocean acidity. Reaching 1.5°C would result in the loss of 70% of them.
According to calculations also made by the IPCC, CO2 emissions will have to fall by 45% by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5 Degrees. In addition, "carbon neutrality" must be achieved by 2050, i.e. to start having negative emissions, i.e. to stop emitting more CO2 than is removed from the atmosphere. The longer it takes to implement these measures, the less time we will have before the negative consequences affect us all, and may even become irreversible. With each passing year, not only are greenhouse gas emissions not being reduced, but they are increasing. That is why now is the time to act.
As a conclusion of the IPCC's report it should be clear that in order to avoid an increase above 1.5 Degrees it was necessary to cut current emissions by 45%. However, due to the disagreement of several states with this report, and the fear of the failure of the summit, these cuts were omitted from the final agreement . This delay in taking drastic action only reduces the time we have to save our planet, risking being too late to avoid the worst consequences.
At meeting in Katowice it was possible to reach consensus on the regulation of the Paris measures agreement , which is already a great achievement, but the agreement came at the cost of setting aside carbon markets, i.e. the set of carbon trading mechanisms that allow countries that emit more greenhouse gases to buy emission rights from those countries that do comply with the targets and emit gases below the established limit. This section blocked the negotiation of other issues for hours, as several countries that benefit from the current status, such as Brazil, opposed modifications. Finally, it was decided to postpone the negotiations until the COP25 meeting next year in Chile.
The common set of rules for all countries allows them to present their progress in the fight against climate change in the same way. We have to remember that the problem after agreement in Paris was that each country decided to present the data pledge cuts in a different way. For this reason, a agreement to unify rules and criteria in a common way is a breakthrough. These transparency rules are particularly important, as they will make it possible to analyse the progress of what has been proposed at each point in time, and this will make it possible to analyse the targets achieved and the need for further action. For example, among the data that all countries are required to include in their reports are the sectors included in their targets, gas emissions and the year of reference letter against which they will measure the process.
Although some are disappointed that they expected more results than were achieved, the mere fact that agreement was reached among all the participating countries must be considered a success.
We must bear in mind that some of the participating states that showed less interest and put less effort into the negotiations for this fight, and even raised obstacles in the negotiations, are very important countries in the international sphere, with great economic and political power. For this reason, we should consider the agreement reached as a further step towards raising awareness of the fight against climate change. A small step, but a step forward.
Melting ice has caused icebergs to break off and pose a risk to navigation, but in Antarctica, geopolitics is partially frozen.
Rising temperatures are opening up the Arctic to trade routes and to competition between countries for future control of its subsoil riches. In Antarctica, with lower temperatures and slower melting, what lies beneath the white mantle is not an ocean, but a continent far from shipping lanes and the direct interests of major powers. There are reasons why major international actors prefer to keep any claims about the South Pole on the fridge.
ARTICLE / Alona Sainetska [English version].
Antarctica is a continent with mountain ranges and lakes, surrounded by an ocean and with a total area of 14 million square kilometres. Because of its location at opposite poles, Antarctica is often compared to the ice mass of the Arctic Ocean, which is instead a sea ice surrounded by land. In those northern parts of Eurasia and America, north of the Arctic Circle parallel, about 4 million people live. In contrast, Antarctica, with its average temperature of -49°C, is absolutely uninhabitable and is today considered a natural sanctuary that attracts the attention of many countries in the international community.
Despite not presenting, at first sight, significant elements of conflict in the global system as a whole, the sovereignty of its territory has never been free of disputes and territorial claims by countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, France, Argentina and Chile. Although later left at Fail, the claims of these countries did not interfere with each other, except in the case of Argentina and Chile, whose claims were over land with higher concentrations of Antarctic shrimp or krill and which had already been claimed in whole or in part by England.
The interests of the aforementioned countries and also those of the non-claimant superpowers, such as the United States and the USSR, which showed little desire to turn both the continent and the maritime space into an object of political-military confrontation, coincided in a transcendental way on this issue. This fact greatly facilitated negotiations on the future legal status of "the frozen continent".
The first attempt to establish a special legal regime for Antarctica was made by the United States in 1948. However, this idea failed when confronted with the civil service examination of countries wishing to extend their sovereignty to Antarctic territories. It was only two years later that the continent again aroused the interest of the major powers when the USSR announced that it would not accept any agreement on Antarctica in which it was not represented.
Faced with the need to reach a consensus, and as a result of the enormous efforts of the world's academic community , a climate of cooperation and international dialogue on Antarctica was born, which allowed free access to the continent for scientists of any nationality, as well as the exchange of the results of their research. This new context led to the Antarctic Treaty (AT), which entered into force on 23 June 1961, signature on 1 December 1959. Any possible modification, by majority vote, was postponed until a lecture planned for 30 years after its entry into force; when 1991 arrived, not only were no changes implemented, but safeguards were added.
In the AT, the countries involved undertook to recognise a special legal regime for Antarctica, giving it the status of "terra nullius". It also provided for the demilitarisation of the Antarctic continent, which reserved the frozen space exclusively for peaceful purposes and prohibited the establishment of instructions military.
On the other hand, it proclaimed the freezing of all claims to territorial sovereignty over Antarctica, and during the period of validity of the treaty no new claims could be made or those previously made extended.
It also established the right to appoint observers to ensure compliance with the objectives of the treaty and provided for periodic meetings of the original signatory states to the AT, plus other states granted consultative status for carrying out important scientific missions in Antarctica.
Scientific and economic potential
In 1991, a further step was taken in the conservation of the frozen giant. goal With the aim of responding to issues such as climate change and the need to protect the special ecosystem that the continent represented, the so-called protocol "complementary" to the AT on environmental protection was signed in Madrid. The condition for its entrance entry into force was that it be ratified by all the consultative members of the Antarctic Treaty. It prohibited any subject exploitation of mineral resources other than for scientific purposes. This ban could only be lifted by a unanimous agreement and it kept the continent away from possible plundering of its vast natural resources. Antarctica thus became a unique place in the world for the coexistence of man and nature.
However, recent decades have introduced many strategic changes that have given rise to serious doubts and concerns about the effectiveness of the AT. Its scientific and economic potential, together with its enormous biodiversity and wealth of natural resources, have greatly increased Antarctica's importance. The increased interaction and interdependence of the different national, international and transnational actors that make up the global community has also multiplied the desire to influence and participate, in different ways, in the pursuit of particular interests in this part of the world.
Thus, alongside projects to guarantee environmental conditions, such as the discussion on the creation of a large natural preservation area in the Ross Sea, controversial initiatives are sometimes launched to make use of Antarctic resources, such as the one suggested by the United Arab Emirates to tow icebergs that break off the Antarctic ice mass to the Middle East in order to combat drought and meet the needs of its population (Antarctica contains 80% of the planet's freshwater reserves).
Such icebergs, on the other hand, can pose a threat to shipping and trade, especially if they are large, as may be the case with the Larsen C ice shelf, which is increasingly close to collapse, leaving a huge 5,800 square kilometre iceberg adrift.
Countries with different weights
Although a possible exploitation of Antarctica is not envisaged in the short or medium term deadline and remains hypothetical for the time being, thanks to the disadvantages resulting from the continent's remoteness and its harsh and unfavourable conditions, there is a risk of a future deployment of economic activity in the Antarctic region on a global scale. The latter will depend on international alignments that may emerge.
The alignments in relation to Antarctica take their cue from the management structure imposed by the Treaty, which includes three categories of membership:
The original signatories (Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States) which participate as of right in the consultative meetings of the TA where decisions are taken ( plenary session of the Executive Council ).
Those States wishing to join and which, having developed significant scientific activities, obtain consent to participate in the Consultative Meetings (e.g. Poland, Germany, India, Brazil, China and Uruguay).
States that join, but which, because they do not carry out significant scientific activity, cannot participate in decision-making (Czechoslovakia, Cuba, Hungary, Bulgaria, Peru, Italy, New Guinea, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Romania and Finland).
status A similar collision of interests on the part of international actors is taking place at the opposite pole of the Earth, the Arctic. Its climatic conditions are much warmer, allowing its sensitive ice sheet to thaw. Thus, global warming-induced thawing makes the Arctic's energy wealth increasingly accessible (it is estimated to hold 13 per cent of the world's remaining oil and 30 per cent of its remaining natural gas) and thus intensifies the battle for the rights to exploit it by countries such as Denmark, Canada, the United States, Norway and Russia. On the other side is China, for whom the thaw has multiple positive consequences, such as the opening of a new, much shorter inter-oceanic shipping route between northern Europe and Shanghai, or easy access to mining in areas such as Greenland.
The abundance of key minerals in technology, the opening of new shipping routes, and the fact that the land around the Arctic Circle is habitable, with benevolent conditions and increasingly easy access, make it highly likely that the Arctic will be integrated into the global economic structure sooner than the Antarctic.