The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 24) is taking place these days in Katowice, Poland. The COP 24 should produce the rulebook on climate action that will be an operational descendant of the Paris agreement. But will this be the outcome? Remembering the long and tough negotiations that paved the way to the unanimously adopted Paris climate agreement, it is hard to predict the result of this momentous and epoch-making event.
Although we do not know the outcome of the 24th annual UNFCCC conference, the products should be the Rulebook of the Paris Agreement and the further development of the Talanoa Dialogue. Namely, the rulebook should define a framework of applicable and detailed rules for the implementation of the Paris agreement that must come in force in 2020. Without a solid and effective outcome of COP 24, implementation of the Paris agreement will only become a moving target. On the other hand, the Talanoa Dialogue is the product of COP 23 and it should assess the action on achieving carbon neutrality. At COP 24, the dialogue should make a move from the preparatory phase to its political phase.
However, during the first week of the conference, we have witnessed a clash of science and politics that may have determine the outcome of the conference itself. The latest IPCC report that warns on a temperature rise of 1.5°C is a key scientific study that has drawn the attention of both scientific and political international community. Yet, the efforts to incorporate the report into the global climate talks at COP 24 have failed. The US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait have objected to the conference “welcoming” the report but instead wanted the conference “taking note” of the report. This ’slight’ semantic difference implies that all these four countries, that are also the largest oil producers, have not taken the messages of this scientific study seriously although they supported the report when it was launched in October.
Still, the real threat of climate change impacts is acknowledged by the youth and a bold statement coming from 15-year old Greta Thunberg has been heard at the conference: “Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago.” This young Swedish climate activist has bluntly exposed the truth that the future of our planet depends on the decisions made by the world leaders and governments.
Will they act in the way as we expect? Not sure.
At least, we expect from all the participants at this pivotal event to see and acknowledge another’s perspective and to produce a valid and effective outcome and send a wonderful and promising message to the world.
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