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.