At COP24, world nations agree on a concrete way forward to bring the Paris climate deal to life
COP24 closing plenary meeting in Katowice, Poland, 16 December 2018.
15 December 2018
After two weeks of crunch negotiations – with overtime – the almost 200 parties gathered in Katowice, Poland, for the
United Nations COP24
two-week climate change conference, adopted
on Saturday a “robust” set of implementing guidelines for the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement
, aimed at keeping global warming well below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.
Following several sleepless nights, cheers and applause welcomed the COP24
President, Michal Kurtyka, as he opened the conference’s closing plenary meeting, which had been postponed close to a
dozen times. He thanked the hundreds of delegates in the room for their “patience”, noting that the last night “was a
long night”. General laughter followed when the room’s big screens showed a delegate yawning whole-heartedly.
“Katowice has shown once more the resilience of the Paris Agreement
– our solid roadmap for climate action,” said Patricia Espinosa, who heads the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC
) secretariat and who was speaking on behalf of António Guterres, the UN chief.
Mr. Guterres, who has made addressing the impacts of climate change one of the top priorities of his term as UN
Secretary-General, came three times to Katowice in the past two weeks to support the negotiations but, given the
repeated delays, was forced to leave before the closing plenary, due to prior engagements.
The adopted guidelines package, called the “rulebook” by some, is designed to encourage greater climate action ambition
and benefit people from all walks of life, especially the most vulnerable.
Trust and climate action financing
One of the key components of the ‘Katowice package’ is a detailed transparency framework, meant to promote trust among
nations regarding the fact that they are all doing their part in addressing climate change. It sets out how countries
will provide information about their national action plans, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as well
as mitigation and adaptation measures.
An agreement was reached on how to uniformly count greenhouse gas emissions and if poorer countries feel they cannot
meet the standards set, they can explain why and present a plan to build up their capacity in that regard.
On the thorny question of financing from developed countries in support of climate action in developing countries, the
document sets a way to decide on new, more ambitious targets from 2025 onwards, from the current commitment to mobilize
US$100 billion per year as of 2020.
Another notable achievement of these negotiations is that nations agreed on how to collectively assess the effectiveness
of climate action in 2023, and how to monitor and report progress on the development and transfer of technology.
“The guidelines that delegations have been working on day and night are balanced and clearly reflect how
responsibilities are distributed amongst the world’s nations,” said Ms. Espinosa in a press statement. “They incorporate
the fact that countries have different capabilities and economic and social realities at home, while providing the
foundation for ever increasing ambition.”
“While some details will need to be finalised and improved over time, the system is to the largest part place,” she
Article 6: the one major matter nations couldn’t find consensus on
Ultimately, the negotiations tripped on one key issue which will be back on the table at the next UN climate change
conference, COP25, set to take place in Chile. This is the matter known in specialized circles as “Article 6,” regarding
the so-called “market mechanisms” which allow countries to meet a part of their domestic mitigation goals.
This is done for example through “carbon markets” – or “carbon trading”, which enables countries to trade their
emissions allowances. The Paris Agreement recognizes the need for global rules on this matter to safeguard the integrity
of all countries’ efforts and ensure that each tonne of emissions released into the atmosphere is accounted for.
From now on, my five priorities will be: ambition, ambition, ambition, ambition and ambition - UN chief António Guterres
“From the beginning of the COP, it very quickly became clear that this was one area that still required much work and
that the details to operationalize this part of the Paris Agreement had not yet been sufficiently explored”, explained
Ms. Espinosa, noting that the majority of countries were willing to agree and include the guidelines on market
mechanisms but that “unfortunately, in the end, the differences could not be overcome”.
Other key COP24 achievements
In addition to the political negotiations among Member States on the Paris guidelines, over the past two weeks, the
hallways of COP24 buzzed with close to 28,000 participants having lively exchanges, sharing innovative ideas, attending
cultural events, and building partnerships for cross-sectoral and collaborative efforts.
Many encouraging announcements, especially on financial commitments for climate action, were made: Germany and Norway
pledged that they would double their contributions to the Green Climate Fund, established to enable developing countries
to act; the World Bank also announced it would increase its commitment to climate action after 2021 to $200 billion; the
climate Adaptation Fund received a total of $129 million.
The private sector overall, showed strong engagement. Among the highlights of this COP, two major industries – the
sports and the fashion worlds – joined the movement to align their business practices with the goals of the Paris
Agreement, through the launch of the Sports for Climate Action Framework, and the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate
Many more commitments were made, and concrete, inspiring actions were taken.
“From now on, my five priorities will be: ambition, ambition, ambition, ambition and ambition,” said Patricia Espinosa
on behalf of UN chief António Guterres at the closing planery. “Ambition in mitigation. Ambition in adaptation. Ambition
in finance. Ambition in technical cooperation and capacity building. Ambition in technological innovation.”
To achieve this, the UN Secretary-General is convening a Climate Summit on 23 September, at UN headquarters in New York,
to engage Governments at the highest levels.