New rules for climate emissions targets agreed at COP24

Rules governing ambitious climate emissions targets were approved at COP24 by nearly 200 countries, following a fortnight of factious negotiations.

In the final deal, countries including China, the EU and US reached a compromise over a single set of rules that will govern how countries measure and report their emissions and climate targets, in a bid to limit global warming to well below 2oC.

After two weeks of discussion in the Polish city of Katowice, officials from round the world reached a consensus on a more detailed, 156-page framework for the 2015 Paris agreement, which aims to limit rise in average world temperatures to ‘well below’ 2oC.

Polish President Michal Kurtya told delegates: ‘It is not easy to find agreement on a deal so specific and technical. Through this package, you have made a thousand little steps forward together. You can feel proud.’ Indeed, on conclusion of this statement, a host of ministers joined him on stage, hugging and laughing in signs of relief after the marathon talks, reported Reuters.

However, before the talks, many expected the deal would not be as robust, given that US President Donald Trump, intends to pull the US out of the pact. What’s more, the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait refused to ‘welcome’ a United Nations-commissioned report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October, which warned that keeping the earth’s temperature rise to 1.5oC would need ‘unprecedented’ changes in every aspect of society.

Many low-lying states and islands stressed during the COP24 talks that they are at risk from rising sea levels. They argued that current measures by most major greenhouse gas emitters are not strong enough – but had to be accepted grudgingly in exchange for other trade-offs.

‘There should be a direct link between the [IPCC] report and the specific actions that would underpin ambition both in terms of action and finance,’ Simon Stiell, Grenada’s Environment Minister, told Reuters.

Many countries also worried that with the rise of nationalism, and the recent election of Jair Bolsonara as Brazil’s President, the international co-operation needed to tackle climate change might be in danger.

The agreement in Katowice was seen as less about technical rules and more about showing that the international spirit is still alive and has teeth. ‘I think the beauty of multilateralism is that it is the effort of everybody,’ Spanish Ecology Minister Teresa Ribera told the BBC. ‘What we have seen is that everybody has supported the package, no single country has decided to step down.’

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