COP24: Climate change is contested, not tested.
After the UN climate conference held in Katowice, known as COP24, we can see what the state of health of the Paris Agreement is and what the new challenges will be for the next decade.
Ambition? What governments lacked in the face of pressure from experts gathered in the Silesian capital these days. The pressures of the group of more conservative and skeptical countries led by the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia dynamited the negotiations led by the European Union and the group of developing countries and small island states threatened by rising sea levels.
Returning to the starting point of COP24, it was intended to continue with the Paris Agreement of 2015 whose main objective was that the average temperature of the planet did not exceed 2°C and that it was even tried to be below 1.5°C. Limiting heating to 1.5°C instead of 2°C is even more advantageous because it limits the exposure of 420 million fewer people to deadly heat waves and it could save some tropical coral reefs and reduce the disappearance of species of flora and fauna in numerous forests and wetlands.
However, climate change according to the report of experts of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is already here only with the increase of 1°C: The meteorological conditions are more extreme, the sea level has increased and they have been reduced the glacial ice caps of the Arctic.
Countries have to present plans to cut their greenhouse gas emissions immediately. 45% next decade and 100% in 2055-2060.
The great noteworthy failure of the COP24 has been that despite the IPCC reports warning that we only have 12 years left to save the planet and not exceed 1.5°C, the agreement ended without any clear promise of climate action and only the lines were settled in procedural matters.
These summits need a unanimous agreement of almost 200 countries, something very complex and that restrains the positions of blocs, or rather blockages coming from the deniers. However, the only positive thing has been the clear determination by multilateralism as a solution to climate change. The rules book is the roadmap to comply with Paris in which binding common standards for transparency and review are set, fundamental for the fight against climate change and which had not yet been officially approved. The commitment to adapt the mechanisms for periodic review (Global Stocktake), and funding for climate action in developing countries are great advances, but insufficient because we are late.
According to Jennifer Morgan, Director of Greenpeace International "A year of climatic disasters and a dire warning from the world’s top scientists should have led to much more here in Katowice. Instead, goverments let people down again as they ignored the science and the plight of the vulnerable people."
There are many gaps left in this Katowice summit. For example, a clear collective commitment for NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) has not been agreed upon.
Negotiations of carbon market quotas (exchange of greenhouse gas emission quotas) were also blocked, especially due to pressures from Brazil. It was decided that this fundamental issue will be dealt with next year, closing the COP24 without any commitment in this matter.
In the final statement, the US-led group denied the conclusions of the IPCC experts, who wanted to downplay it, in the face of the group of more convinced countries that wanted all this consensus scientific information to be at the center of the negotiations and the latest agreement.
Finally, the conclusions of the IPCC are present since it is recognized that all this scientific base must serve so that countries take their own lines of action.
Lack of coordination, lack of confidence and lack of ambition. The Paris Agreement was the basis, Katowice is still the basis and it seems that our governments under pressure from coal and oil lobbies are not able to pass from good words to deeds. We don’t need to debate about climate change but to fight climate change from now on.