Climate change rulebook ‘breakthrough’

A ‘robust set of guidelines’ for implementing the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement have been agreed on after extended sessions at COP24 in Poland.

Minister of Climate Change James Shaw says that the agreement on a rulebook is ‘a breakthrough’, while National spokesperson Todd Muller describes it as a “solid step forward”.

However agreement could not be reached on how to operationalize market mechanisms. Countries will try to finalise agreement on this at COP25 next year.

United Nations: New Era of Global Climate Action To Begin Under Paris Climate Change Agreement

Governments have adopted a robust set of guidelines for implementing the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The implementation of the agreement will benefit people from all walks of life, especially the most vulnerable.

The agreed ‘Katowice Climate Package’ is designed to operationalize the climate change regime contained in the Paris Agreement. Under the auspices of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, it will promote international cooperation and encourage greater ambition.

The guidelines will promote trust among nations that all countries are playing their part in addressing the challenge of climate change.

The President of COP24, Mr. Michal Kurtyka of Poland, said: “All nations have worked tirelessly. All nations showed their commitment. All nations can leave Katowice with a sense of pride, knowing that their efforts have paid off. The guidelines contained in the Katowice Climate Package provide the basis for implementing the agreement as of 2020”.

The Katowice package includes guidelines that will operationalize the transparency framework.

It 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 mobilizing USD 100 billion 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

The UN’s Climate Chief, Ms. Patricia Espinosa said: “This is an excellent achievement! The multilateral system has delivered a solid result. This is a roadmap for the international community to decisively address climate change”.

These global rules are important to ensure that each tonne of emissions released into the atmosphere is accounted for.

In this way, progress towards the emission limitation goals of the Paris Agreement can be accurately measured.

“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.

“After many rich exchanges and constructive discussions, the greatest majority of countries were willing to agree and include the guidelines to operationalize the market mechanisms in the overall package”, she said.

“Unfortunately, in the end, the differences could not be overcome”.

Because of this, countries have agreed to finalise the details for market mechanisms in the coming year in view of adopting them at the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP25).

Euronews: What is the COP24 climate change rulebook and why do we need it?

The landmark 2015 deal aims to limit global temperature rises to “well below” two degrees Celsius.

The talks hit several stumbling blocks and went into overtime on Saturday.

“It is not easy to find agreement on a deal so specific and technical”, chairman of the talks, Michal Kurtyka, said.

A consensus was finally reached when ministers managed to break a deadlock between Brazil and other countries over the accounting rules for the monitoring of carbon credits, deferring much of the discussion to next year.

So it is a work in progress.

Some countries and environmental groups say the COP24 rulebook does not provide a sufficient response to the impacts of climate change.

“COP24 failed to deliver a clear commitment to strengthen all countries’ climate pledges by 2020,” Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said in a statement.

“Governments have again delayed adequate action to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown. The EU needs to push ahead and lead by example, by providing more support to poor countries and increasing its climate pledge before the UN Secretary-General Summit in September 2019,” the group’s director, Wendel Trio, said.

NZ Herald: Green Party co-leader James Shaw says new climate change rulebook is a ‘breakthrough’

Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who was co-facilitating some of the talks, told reporters this morning that the newly agreed rulebook was “a breakthrough.”

Shaw said the rulebook would help “galvanise action” as it puts every country in the Paris agreement on the same playing field.

“The Paris agreement said what we wanted to do, it didn’t say a great deal about how we wanted to do it.”

The new rules do this and would mean the momentum towards action on climate change should be increased, he said.

The 2015 Paris accord put a 2020 deadline on all countries to increase the commitment they are making towards lowering net emissions.

“I think this [the rulebook] is quite a big breakthrough in terms of ensuring we get the momentum towards that.”

Shaw said one of the single greatest parts of the rulebook was the rules around transparency.

Now, countries would be accountable for doing what they said they would do in terms of policies put in place to cut emissions.

“If you have a robust transparency regime it means the Paris rulebook has a very solid central spine to it,” Shaw said.

Muller, who also attended the conference,  said it was a “solid step forward”.

Muller said the gains around transparency were very important.

“New Zealanders are keen to see that we do our proportional effort… but it’s important we see other countries put their shoulder to the wheel too in terms of genuine change.”

One of the major sticking points in the talks was agreeing on how developed countries would help developing countries meet the goal.

He said it was “challenging” to hammer out rulebook with some many different countries at the table.

“Given how long we have overrun and how difficult it got, the fact that [the rulebook] is as good as it is, is a very pleasant surprise.”

Donald Trump had pulled the US out of the Paris agreement so the US didn’t sign up.

“I know the US has a problematic relationship with the Paris agreement, but pretty much everyone else in the world is just getting on with it,” Shaw told reporters when asked about the US’ absence.

The US is a major emitter so this is a notable absence.

Russel Norman is not happy with the COP24 outcome.

Greenpeace NZ Executive Director, and former Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said although the rulebook was agreed, there was no clear collective commitment to enhance climate action targets.

He is called on the Government to bring agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme – something the Government is in the process of considering.

The rulebook is a step, but each country needs to take tangible action, including New Zealand. Agricultural emissions are a contentious issue here.