The latest United Nations talks (UNFCC) at COP24 seem to have been engulfed in controversy. The main agenda item was to put together a framework for different countries to implement in working towards their Paris 2015 targets. This included how governments will measure, report on and verify their emissions-cutting efforts, ensuring all countries are held to proper standards, which they will find it hard to wriggle out of. However, they seem to have got bogged down with disagreements, mainly to do with carbon credits and carbon sinks.
Carbon credits are awarded to countries achieving their targets. Carbon sinks relate to forests, which absorb carbon dioxide. Brazil, with its large rain forest cover, insisted on a change of wording but critics of this said it would lead to a form of double counting. The issue was postponed for another year.
All of this took place within the scenario of the IPCC-commissioned October report, which warned that, allowing warming to reach 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, would have grave consequences, including the death of coral reefs and loss of many species.
Four countries joined forces to weaken the conclusions of the report. These were: USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who would only agree to the timing of the scientist’s report. In addition, Brazil, with its new right-wing president, who is sceptical of climate concerns, withdrew its offer to host next year’s talks in Brazil.
However, 196 200 countries agreed to rules for how they’ll adhere to the Paris climate agreement. The rules define how nations will record their emissions and their progress toward climate goals.
President Michal Kurtyka celebrating the final agreement in Katowice
The poorest and most vulnerable countries felt that the final agreement demanded too little of industrialized countries, whilst expecting developing countries to agree on common reporting requirements to bring their climate promises into line with those of more developed countries. However, the richest countries must now be more open about their financial support to those countries most affected by global warming.
One of the downsides to the COP24 event was the hosting of a pro-coal fringe meeting, during the proceedings by the USA. The only other country attending this meeting was Australia. Perhaps not surprising in view of other postings on this site over the last two years.
Further reports on COP24 can be found at:
COP25 will be in Chile.