Written by Gregor Erbach,
The 24th UN climate change conference (COP24), which starts today in Katowice, Poland, is focused on the full implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the adoption of the operational ‘rulebook’. In the political phase of the Talanoa dialogue, initiated by the Fijian presidency of COP23, high-level representatives of the Parties will discuss collective efforts to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, guided by the questions Where are we?, Where do we want to go? and How do we get there?
A number of difficulties will have to be overcome at COP24. Some major economies have weakened their commitments: the United States plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, and Brazil has retracted its offer to host the COP25 conference in 2019. Despite new pledges from funders like the World Bank, the provision of finance to support climate action in developing countries remains a major stumbling block in the negotiations. Countries’ commitments to emission reductions would need to be strengthened, as the current pledges would result in around three degrees of global warming, according to the 2018 UN emissions gap report. The International Energy Agency reports that energy-related carbon emissions have been rising again since 2017. In Brazil, deforestation of the Amazon has greatly increased during the last year. These worrying trends are in sharp contrast with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change special report on global warming of 1.5°C that calls for ‘rapid and far-reaching’ social and economic transitions to limit the impacts of climate change and meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.
The EU has adopted comprehensive policies to meet its pledge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 % below 1990 levels by 2030. Legislation on the emissions trading system (ETS), effort sharing for non-ETS sectors, land use and forests, energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable bioenergy, and buildings has been agreed recently. Policies for sustainable mobility, including emission targets for cars, vans and trucks are still under negotiation. The EU has been a global leader in the fight against climate change, but lately struggles to keep up the pace of emission reductions, as reported by the European Environment Agency.
The European Parliament advocates a more ambitious EU target of a 55 % emission reduction by 2030, and a delegation from the European Parliament will attend COP24. Last week, the European Commission adopted a long-term strategy for emission reductions, requested by the Parliament in October 2017. The strategy, entitled ‘A clean planet for all’, outlines pathways to reach the aim of net zero greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2050. With these strategic targets, supporting policies and contributions to international climate finance, the EU is well positioned to play a leading role in bringing the COP24 negotiations to a successful conclusion.
Visit the European Parliament page on ‘Climate change‘.