Nearly 23,000 delegates from 196 countries and the European Union convened in the Silesian capital of Katowice, Poland, in December for two weeks at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – COP24 that took place from 2-15 December. The main goal was to create a common rulebook to ensure the Paris Agreement on climate change will be put into practice across the world.

Background

The Paris Agreement agreed in 2015 is the first multilateral agreement on climate change that covers most worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C. It entered into force on 4 November 2016. Nevertheless, many practical as well as purely technical issues remain open and require implementation in order for the Paris Agreement to be put into practice. Under the Paris Agreement, the Conference of the Parties (COP) is responsible for developing implementation guidelines to achieve climate change goals.

The Katowice Rulebook

Adoption of a clear “rulebook” to implement the Paris Agreement was therefore a key issue to be resolved during the COP24. It involved ministers and government officials, as well as a wide range of stakeholders. COP24 parties settled on most of the elements of the rulebook for putting the Paris Agreement into practice. This included a set of rules and guidelines on how governments will measure, report on and verify their emissions-cutting efforts.

What was agreed?

Key COP24 outcomes include:

  • Parties’ commitments will be revised and enhanced in the form of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) before 2020. The parties will also outline mitigating and adapting measures as well as details of financial support for climate action in developing countries.
  • From 2024, parties will have to report their emissions (and progress in reducing them) every two years.
  • Guidelines for the “global stocktake” pledge-and-review cycle, an opportunity for parties to report on their progress in meeting their goals.
  • Developed countries commitment of $100 billion annually from 2020 to fund climate action in developing countries. Under the Katowice Rulebook in November 2020 parties are to initiate “deliberations on setting a new collective quantified goal a floor of USD 100 billion per year, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency of implementation and taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries”.

What was not achieved?

Key issues that was not resolved include:

  • Common rules on carbon markets and emissions trading. Failure to agree on market mechanisms for emissions trading is considered by many to be the most disappointing aspect of COP24.
  • The parties did not agree on a general commitment to limit global warming to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, in accordance with an IPCC (UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) special report that was published in October 2018. The final text omits a previous reference to specific reductions in emissions by 2030, and refers to the “timely completion” of the IPCC report only, not the report itself and its conclusions.

What’s next?

COP25 will be held in Chile in November 2019 (Brazil withdrew from hosting the event). During this meeting the final elements of the Katowice Rulebook should be finalised and work will begin on emissions targets for 2030 and beyond. A lot of progress was made in Poland, despite a failure to agree on emissions trading. The general view is that COP24 was a success; however there is still a lot of work to be done to effectively put the Paris Agreement into practice.