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COP24 ends without firm promises to raise climate action and ambition
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod

Just two months after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned we have 12 years left to save the world, COP24 ended with no clear promise of enhanced climate action.

COP24 led to an approved Paris Agreement rulebook, but no clear, collective commitment to enhance climate action targets – Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – was reached, despite expectations that Katowice would deliver step-change.

‘A year of climate disasters and a dire warning from the world’s top scientists should have led to so much more. Instead, governments let people down again as they ignored the science and the plight of the vulnerable. Recognising the urgency of raised ambition and adopting a set of rules for climate action is not nearly enough when whole nations face extinction.

‘Without immediate action, even the strongest rules will not get us anywhere. People expected action and that is what governments did not deliver. This is morally unacceptable and they must now carry with them the outrage of people and come to the UN Secretary General’s summit in 2019 with higher climate action targets.’

Greenpeace International executive director

‘People are fed up’

Greenpeace has urged governments to ramp up action immediately and prove they have heard the demands of people. The IPCC report should be the call to action – action that matches the pace and scale of the threat, the charity said.

‘We continue to witness an irresponsible divide between the vulnerable island states and impoverished countries pitted against those who would block climate action or who are immorally failing to act fast enough’, said Jennifer Mogan, executive director of Greenpeace International. ‘People are fed up, outraged at these injustices and are taking action to defend their homes and children and pushing their leaders to act. These people are the hope of our generation and governments must finally stand with them and give us all reasons for hope’, she added.

The Katowice Climate Package

COP24 ended with the adoption of guidelines which, according to the UN, will ‘unleash the full potential of the Paris Agreement’.

The ‘Katowice Climate Package’ adopted by governments sets out how countries will provide information about their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that describe their domestic climate actions. This information includes mitigation and adaptation measures, as well as details of financial support for climate action in developing countries.

The package also includes guidelines that relate to:

  • The process for establishing new targets on finance from 2025 onwards, to follow on from the current target of mobilising $100bn per year from 2020 to support developing countries.
  • How to conduct the Global Stocktake of the effectiveness of climate action in 2023.
  • How to assess progress on the development and transfer of technology.

However, at the end of the talks there was little clarity on how to account for the climate finance provided by developed countries to developing countries, how the $100bn goal by 2020 will be met, or how the overall finance target for post-2025 will be agreed.

Raised ambitions and climate champions

‘World leaders arrived in Katowice with the task of responding to the latest climate science which made clear that we only have 12 years to cut emissions in half and prevent catastrophic global warming’, said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF’s Climate and Energy Practice. ‘They’ve made important progress, but what we’ve seen in Poland reveals a fundamental lack of understanding by some countries of our current crisis. Luckily, the Paris Agreement is proving to be resilient to the storms of global geopolitics. Now we need all countries to commit to raising climate ambition before 2020, because everyone’s future is at stake.’

This year’s talks send a signal for countries to increase their climate targets by 2020 as a response to the latest climate science, delivered by the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5℃.

Key developed and developing nations have rallied in support of accelerating global efforts towards securing a climate-safe future. The COP outcome highlights the high-level UN Secretary General climate summit planned for 23 September 2019 as a key opportunity for leaders to respond to COP24’s call for greater ambition by announcing or committing to updated and more ambitious national climate targets by 2020.

Questions about which countries would emerge as climate champions at COP24 were answered on Wednesday night with the reemergence of a ‘High Ambition Coalition.’ The group that came together in Poland included the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Ethiopia, EU, Norway, UK, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Mexico and Columbia. They pledged to enhance their national climate plans before 2020 and increase both short and long term action.

Politicians vs people

Li Shuo, senior global policy advisor for Greenpeace East Asia, said we now have a solid rulebook that provides a roadmap to reach the targets in the Paris Agreement. There are binding common rules to ensure that climate actions can be compared and that the concerns of vulnerable countries are taken into account.

‘Completing the rulebook demonstrates the resolve of major emerging economies to do more’, Li said. ‘It also signals clear support for multilateralism and that rules are still possible despite turbulent geopolitics. These rules now provide a backbone to the Paris Agreement and must be strengthened in coming years.’

Greenpeace Poland campaigner Pawel Szypulski said there’s ‘a clear rift’ in Poland between political elites who are guilty of a lack of ambition and are supporting the continued use of coal, and people who are calling for strong climate action. ‘Two out of three Poles support a coal phase-out by 2030’, Pawel said. ‘The science is clear, we’ve got 12 years left and the technical means to avoid catastrophe. Now politicians need to listen and act.’

Click here to find out why a 2℃ limit is not enough.

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