Climate talks stall in Poland

Climate talks stall in Poland
Delegates enjoy the Polish Reception on December 12, but reports from the UN climate summit as it nears its conclusion show insufficient progress has been made.
By Wojciech Kosc in Katowice Poland December 13, 2018

Negotiations at the UN’s climate summit in Katowice, Poland, showed insufficient progress on December 12, as nearly 200 countries remained in disagreement on how to implement measures aimed at keeping global warming to a safe level.

The Polish presidency of the summit, known as COP24, urged parties late on December 11 to reduce differences in the draft outcome. The president of COP24, Polish Deputy Energy Minister Michal Kurtyka, said there was no time to dwell on minutiae and countries must focus on big outstanding issues first.

The UN secretary general Antonio Guterres also stepped in, saying inaction on climate change would be “suicidal”.

The sticking points are a mix of problems that have dogged the global climate talks for years with newer ones. Countries are divided along the developed and developing economies line on transparency and reporting on emissions reduction efforts.

There also is no consensus on how to check on progress in mitigating climate change in five years’ time. Finally, there is the old issue of compensating for loss and damage inflicted by climate change – such as by extreme typhoons – in poorer countries.

Once – and if – the differences are ironed out, the desired outcome of the negotiations will be the so-called “Katowice rulebook”, a set of implementation rules for the Paris Agreement of 2015.

The Paris Agreement was a landmark global political accord to keep the Earth’s warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100, relative to the pre-industrial era.

According to a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN-affiliated scientific body, the world is on the brink of a global catastrophe caused by rising temperatures.

The report said humanity must reduce heat-inducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by as much as 45% as soon as 2030 in order to avoid a likely catastrophic 2-degree Celsius rise of average global temperatures.

However, even those scientific findings did not enjoy unanimous support from all countries at Katowice, as disagreement over “welcoming” the report or merely “noting” it helped a negative mood set in at the summit.

With only two days until the formal closing of the Katowice meeting, chances are growing for it to go into overtime on Saturday or even Sunday.