Photo by Khawla Alazabi, UNFCCC

Ratcheting up the pressure

Tension is rising at COP24 as the clock ticks down on the time available to complete the Paris Agreement Work Programme—which is supposed to guide countries as they implement the agreement.  UN Secretary-General António Guterres told the meeting that “it is a moment of truth” and that “Katowice must be the dawn of a new determination to unleash the promise of the Paris Agreement.”

Countries offered measured levels of optimism.  Representatives of Brazil, China, India and South Africa said there was progress on some issues and expressed confidence that the COP could be a success. They stressed that the future of multilateralism was at stake and that the Paris Agreement, as a well-balanced agreement, should be precisely implemented. “There should be not backsliding.” Going forward in the negotiations, they said they were exercising maximum flexibility. Among their concerns were the need to differentiate responsibilities according to the circumstances of countries, such as for reporting; they “welcome” the IPCC 1.5°C report, progress on loss and damage to protect the most vulnerable people in the most vulnerable places, and that more climate finance was needed for developing countries, in accordance with the Paris Agreement.

A Farewell to Talanoa

The year-long Talanoa Dialogue, a process for facilitating dialogue between people in more informal setting, concluded today with a call for action to all governments and people. The Dialogue, started by Fiji as it helped the COP 23 Presidency, held 21 sessions during the year and included 138 parties. Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said the Dialogue offered “a new way to engage with each other” that could lead to new action on the ground.

Closing the Emissions Gap

Global CO2 emissions increased in 2017, after a three-year period of stabilization and still show no signs of peaking, according to the UN Environment’s latest Emissions Gap Report.

What’s driving the increase? It’s a combination of factors, says Anne Olhoff of UN Environment, including higher economic growth and slower decline in carbon and energy intensity.

Global peaking of emissions by 2020 is crucial for achieving the temperature targets of the Paris Agreement, and Olhoff says nations must raise their ambition by three times to meet 2°C and five times to meet 1.5°C.

Non-state actors, in this regard, has a big role in pushing the climate agenda forward, she stressed, noting that “they can drive new policies, support governments and make them believe that taking climate action is essential.”