Published: Tue, December 18, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

UN Climate conference finalises rules to implement Paris climate treaty

UN Climate conference finalises rules to implement Paris climate treaty

Worldwide climate change negotiators finally put aside their differences, producing a 156-page rule book for implementing the Paris Agreement.

The leader of the meeting, Polish official Michal Kurtyka, noted in his final speech to delegates that it was hard to get almost 200 countries to agree on specific rules.

What exactly did they agree to?

Among the more nettlesome issues is how nations report progress in implementing voluntary national plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It also lays out how they will report them to the rest of the world.

Speaking hours before the final gavel, Canada's Environment Minister Catherine McKenna suggested there was no alternative to such meetings if countries want to tackle global problems, especially at a time when multilateral diplomacy is under pressure from nationalism.

Even though many countries have significantly improved their renewable energy regulations since 2010, there are still significant barriers to global progress on sustainable energy, said a latest World Bank report. Some key issues at the talks remain unresolved, but European diplomats and activists expressed hope that a climate agreement could be reached by Saturday.

The 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) took place on December 2-14.

A recent scientific report found that capping global warming at that level would prevent many potentially catastrophic consequences for life on Earth.

Record-breaking fires from California to Queensland and Sweden shone a spotlight on some of the forthcoming climate extremes that these talks are created to limit.

COP24: Nations agree on global climate pact rules after impasse

Schulze told reporters on the sidelines of United Nations climate talks in Poland that investing in developing technologies to protect the climate will give Germany "an enormous competitive advantage".

They refused to use the word "welcome" in association with the findings of the report.

During the two weeks of talks in Katowice - in the mining region of Silesia, a focus on the fossil fuel industry provided an unwelcome distraction for some countries and environmental groups which want to focus on cleaner energy.

The delegates postponed pledging more ambitious action to fight global warming and regulating the market for worldwide carbon emissions trading.

Dubbed the "Zombie of Kyoto" by some, it pits emerging economies such as Brazil, which amassed large piles of carbon credits under the 1997 treaty's rules, against industrialized blocs like the European Union, which believe the older credits aren't worth the paper they were printed on.

The developed countries had pledged to collectively mobilize 100 billion USA dollars a year by 2020 to help developing countries combat and better adapt to climate challenges but observers say the actual funding provided by the developed countries falls far behind the goal.

So what was the U.S. role in the talks?

German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said Friday that "if we let entire stretches of this planet become uninhabitable then it will trigger huge costs".

"Transparency is vital to U.S. interests", added Nathaniel Keohane, a climate policy expert at the Environmental Defence Fund. "Without immediate action, even the strongest rules will not get us anywhere".

"In Katowice, US negotiators have played a central role in the talks, helping to broker an outcome that is true to the Paris vision of a common transparency framework for all countries that also provides flexibility for those that need it", Mr Keohane said, calling the agreement "a vital step forward in realising the promise of the Paris accord".

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