In a couple of weeks representatives of governments, climate change experts, activists and private sector actors will meet in the Polish city of Katowice at the UN climate change conference — COP24. Behind the acronyms, there is a real opportunity to advance the battle against climate change.
The UNFCCC and the Conference of the Parties
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also referred to as UNFCCC, was established in 1992 and ratified by 196 countries plus the European Union. Its aim is to develop cooperative strategies to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in order to prevent the dangerous impacts of climate change.
As a complex problem, climate change requires integrated responses. Each year, the UNFCCC meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties — the COP — to negotiate a range of issues from global reporting on national climate change efforts to systems for providing financing. It is also an opportunity to share knowledge and experiences.
COP24 stands for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, which will take place in a few weeks, from 2–14 December 2018, in Katowice, Poland.
The background: COP21 and the Paris Agreement
In 2015 at COP21 in Paris, an agreement was made by the 197 nations to establish a legal instrument that would govern climate change efforts; this is formally known as the Paris Agreement.
It includes overarching goals to keep global temperature rise below 2° C, with efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C, to increase countries’ resilience to climate impacts, and ensure financial flows are sufficient enough to support these aims.
To meet these goals, countries define their own contributions to the agreement through a bottom-up process and decide exactly what action they will take themselves.
The speed at which the Paris Agreement was ratified and came into force is unparalleled in recent international treaty history, highlighting the global commitment to this multilateral approach for addressing climate change.
Why is COP24 so important?
A core objective for countries at COP24 is to agree on the guidelines that govern the Paris Agreement, and to create a set of rules to help countries implement their national contributions and meet their targets.
Issues on how countries are able to manage and adapt to the impending impacts of climate change are also key to discussions. In particular, this is a priority for developing countries who are being hit hard by impacts but have limited capacity or resources to adapt.
Finally, countries will also be negotiating issues of finance, in light of the agreed goal of mobilizing US$100 billion every year by 2020 to support climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Given the Paris Agreement committed to finalizing the implementation guidelines by December 2018, it is essential for COP24 to deliver on this. Without these guidelines, it will be increasingly difficult for countries to implement climate actions needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals and unlock the vast opportunities offered by shifting towards zero-emissions.
Call to action
Since the Paris Agreement was ratified, research has evolved and the message from the climate science community is that we need to raise our ambitions further than expected. As indicated in a recent report on what a world with 1.5° C warming would look like, we will need to cut emissions in half by 2030 and reach zero-emissions by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic climate impacts.
This gives us less than 12 years to make transformational changes at an unprecedented scale and pace across all sectors.
Progress made at COP24 will be critical to not only facilitate this ambitious action, but also send a message to the world that multilateral approaches where we are all working together, is the only way to successfully get us there.
That’s why at UNDP we call you in. All In to address climate change!
The period from now until 2020 is critical to the success of the Paris Agreement. For UNDP, UN partners and the wider international community, the mission is clear: to push for countries, communities and the private sector to scale up ambition. By 2020, we want to see accelerated action on the climate targets — the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) — of the Paris Agreement. Read more on: Climate 2020 — All In