Environment & Sustainability

COP24: we kept the ball rolling… at least!

COP24: we kept the ball rolling... at least!

How can we briefly summarise the Katowice COP24 outcomes? To simply put it, the latest UNFCCC Conference of the Parties managed to keep the ball rolling, but failed in raising the bar.

Two keywords dominated the COP24 conference, urgency and ambition. But the Parties didn’t really speed up the climate change fight and nor increased the targets.

In a tricky international context, with trade war threats, and mounting socio-political tensions also in the OECD more “stable”countries, achieving an almost universal deal is definitely a big deal. Which doesn’t necessary imply that it is enough. In the next few decades we will see if the world leaders should have done much more now to prevent a bitter end.

We’ve got a deal!

A surge of relief, joy and hope is due and normal at the end of extensive negotiations involving basically the whole planet. With the COP24 the guidelines for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement have been decided and adopted. This was the main aim of the COP24 Katowice Conference, needed to goon and set further and more ambitious targets.

This “rulebook”sets the provisions for operationalising the Paris Agreement and setting a level playing field for the sake of transparency, measurability and comparability between different countries, metrics and systems.

Different technical aspects have been set, mainly related to how the Countries/Parties have to measure and report their commitments, progress and achievements in terms of greenhouse gas reductions.

Financial support for climate action in developing countries is another very relevant and delicate aspect, where environmental groups showed their dissatisfaction about the lack of ambition and clarity.Different countries renovated and raised their pledges (such as Germany and Norway), but some other remain quite sceptic and “protectionist”. The US  State clearly stated that “The United States is not taking on any burdens or financial pledges in support of the Paris Agreement and will not allow climate agreements to be used as a vehicle to redistribute wealth”.

Not too much emphasis on the IPCC report, please!

The recent IPCC report about Global Warming of 1.5 °C has probably been the scientific backbone of the COP24, but not all countries agreed on fully endorsing the document. The US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait formed a very compact coalition that finally prevented the inclusion of a wording that could imply backing the IPCC report in the final COP deal.

This new anti-scientific consensus team created some troubles in the conference meetings,with many other Parties speaking in favour of welcoming and fully adopt the IPCC report. This team dangerously groups together some oil superpowers: when there was “only” Saudi Arabia and/or Kuwait with a climate change denial attitude the situation seemed to be easier to manage, but now with the US and Russia by their side it becomes more complicated to overcome the hurdle and get to a deal.

Furthermore,recently Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries also successfully teamed up with Russia for cutting oil output, strengthening their strategic alliance.

Are we happy? Not really

The Paris Agreement climate pledges of the current Nationally Determined Contributions are deemed to be not enough to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels (not to talk about the to 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold…). And, notwithstanding the alarming recent IPCC report, we don’t see any substantial effort to really raise the bar at global scale.

It results that, while highlighting the importance of the COP24 deal, the world leaders and all stakeholders, from citizens, to companies and public institutions, need to remember that the real tough work remains to be done.

With the 2015 Paris Agreement Governments agreed to come together every five years to set more ambitious targets… hopefully we’ll have some good news in 2020. But we already have very few years left to cry in.