Nations Inch Towards Climate Deal At Marathon Un Summit

Pat Wise
December 19, 2018

Almost 200 nations have agreed to enforce rules on implementing the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Michal Kurtyka, a Polish official chairing the talks in Katowice, gaveled the deal Saturday after diplomats and ministers from nearly 200 countries approved.

The talks aimed to provide firm guidelines for countries on how to transparently report their greenhouse gas emissions and their efforts to reduce them.

Another tussle on carbon markets was happening over the need to avoid double-counting of emission reductions. But while the accord set a headline target of keeping average global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) - or 1.5 C (2.7 F) if possible - much of the fine print was left unfinished.

But this would require a drastic overhaul of the global economy, including ending the use of nearly all fossil fuels.

Four nations - the United States, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait - blocked a proposal for nations to "welcome" the IPCC report as a basis of future climate action.

Another stumbling block could be how ambitious countries are in their renewed emissions-cutting pledges ahead of a 2020 stock-take of the Paris deal's progress.

Economists believe a functioning carbon trading system could be an effective way to drive down emissions and raise large amounts of money for measures to curb global warming.

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United Nations climate talks ending on Saturday (Dec 15) in Katowice, Poland, delivered a milestone rulebook for the Paris climate treaty, but failed to dial up national efforts to slash carbon emissions.

"If we don't do that, we will not survive", said former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed.

The implementation of the agreement will benefit people from all walks of life, especially the most vulnerable, said the UN Climate Change secretariat. "We will not reopen negotiations on issues where we have already reached agreement". For two full days, and one whole night, it argued, backed silently by India and China and a few others, for allowing the unused carbon credits of developing countries, earned in the existing carbon markets under the Kyoto Protocol, to be transitioned to the new one being created under the Paris Agreement.

Brazil was initially slated to host the talks under but far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro pushed the Brazilian government to withdraw its offer to host conference.

This provision is created to help nations cope with deadly heatwaves, drought and floods - amplified by climate change - happening today.

The package also includes guidelines that relate to the process for establishing new targets on finance from 2025 onwards to follow-on from the current target of mobilizing 100 billion USA dollars per year from 2020 to support developing countries.

"If we let entire stretches of this planet become uninhabitable, then it will trigger enormous costs", Schulze told reporters, adding that developing technology to lower emissions would give Germany a competitive economic advantage.

She said: "A year of climate disasters and dire warning from the world's top scientists should have led to so much more".

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