Three years on, UN summit set to turn Paris Agreement into reality (Curtain Raiser)

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New Delhi : The world is gathering in Katowice, Poland, from Sunday for crucial a two-week-long UN negotiation aimed at committing to adopt higher 2030 climate targets by 2020, agreeing on a rulebook that will govern national pledges to keep the rise in global temperature to under 1.5 degrees Celsius, and ensuring adequate finances to developing nations.

Experts say the priority outcome at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) will be the finalisation of the "Paris rulebook", a Bible for transparent implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement -- the first global treaty to reduce emissions by all rich and poor nations.

The COP24 negotiations, which will see participation of more than 20,000 people from nearly 200 countries, are going to be held in the backdrop of grim news on climate change from three UN environment bodies.

The 2018 Emissions Gap Report -- ninth in a series -- by UN Environment says global carbon dioxide emissions increased in 2017, after a three-year period of stabilisation.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sounded alarm bells with its special report on 1.5 degrees of global warming, saying that countries needed to urgently step up their actions if warming is to be limited to the target enshrined in the Paris agreement.

Other tell-tale signs of climate change come from the World Meteorological Organisation that says the long-term warming trend has continued in 2018, with the average global temperature set to be the fourth-highest on record.

India has committed itself to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions intensity of gross domestic product (EIGDP) by 33 per cent to 35 per cent below the 2005 levels by 2030, according to UN Environment.

EIGDP is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions created by a unit of GDP.

Indian Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan will be leading the Indian delegation to the COP24.

However, Climate Transparency, which partners with TERI in India, in its "2018 Brown to Green" report last month, warned that the country's sectoral policies are still falling short of being consistent with the Paris Agreement, but New Delhi's ambitious policy on renewable electricity is a promising sign.

Based on implemented policies, India's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were expected to increase to a level of 4,469 to 4,570 MtCO2e by 2030, excluding forestry.

This emission pathway was not compatible with a two degrees Celsius scenario.

However, India's nationally determined contribution is already compatible with a global scenario to limit warming to below two degrees, but not to the 1.5 degrees Paris Agreement limit, it warned.

"We start #COP24, where we must realise the promise made in Paris," UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said in a tweet.

Climate finance is another crucial segment at COP24. Developing countries are seeking more flow of finances from the industrialised nations, saying they have contributed much less to global warming and pollution.

According to a Bloomberg post, China and India are typically the loudest voices advocating for closing this gap as well as for boosting technology transfers.

There will also be discussions around how to measure climate finance flows and how to best administer these contributions, whether they should go through the Green Climate Fund, development banks or be handled bilaterally.

The World Bank Group said it would announce new climate targets for 2025, including a major boost on adaptation, as well as analytical work on new mobility, transport, the energy sector, and the just transition, focusing on delivering low carbon pathways to development.

The success of COP24 requires the European Union's leadership.

EU ministers should also reaffirm climate finance commitments, signal their willingness to scale up future contributions in line with future needs, and push for more transparency, clearer information and predictability of climate finance, the Climate Action Network Europe said in a statement to IANS.

The European Investment Bank, the biggest multilateral financier of climate as well as environmental funding, will present solutions at COP24 with its partners to support a climate-resilient society and annually mobilise $100 billion by 2020 for climate action.

On the downside, COP24 being sponsored by coal companies is a "slap in the face" of delegates, says British charity Christian Aid.

Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid's International Climate Lead, told IANS: "The global meeting to tackle climate change should not be sponsored by coal companies. It is like an arms dealer sponsoring peace talks. This is irresponsible presidency from Poland."

Poland is hosting a COP for the third time. The two previous COPs were held in Pozna (2008) and in Warsaw (2013). Poland also presided over a COP in Bonn in 1999.

The Paris Agreement has been ratified by 184 parties, including India, and entered into force in November 2016.

The commitments contained in it include the annual $100 billion goal from donor nations for lower-income countries and develop national climate plans by 2020, including their self-determined goals and targets.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at )

Published : Sunday, December 02, 2018 12:30 [IST]
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