The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP24 will be held in the Polish city of Katowice from 2 to 14 December 2018. It is expected to finalise the detailed rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement that are as yet lacking. Furthermore, the conference needs to urge the individual countries to commit themselves to make more ambitious contributions to climate protection. The Wuppertal Institute has constantly been observing the on-going negotiations since the start of the UN climate process and analysing the outcomes. As part of the accompanying events at COP24 it will be presenting its research and discussing specific ways to implement the Paris Agreement. In addition, numerous side events will be held on key future topics, which the Wuppertal Institute will use to provide impetus to the negotiations.
In December, the world will turn its eyes to Katowice, where the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place. Around 30,000 representatives from the world of politics and non-governmental organisations, as well as stakeholders from business and research are expected to attend this UN Climate Change Conference.
With the Paris Agreement, it appeared that a breakthrough had finally been achieved after a quarter of a century of international climate diplomacy: a global agreement in which all countries pledge to contribute to the climate protection efforts. In Paris, all countries undertook to make specific Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to global climate protection. However, the contributions that have been promised until now are clearly not sufficient to achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement. Moreover, the Agreement was vaguely formulated regarding numerous points of technical implementation.
With the Paris Agreement, the international community set itself the target of keeping the rise in the global mean temperature since the start of industrialisation well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit it even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. With the contributions made by countries so far, however, global warming is anticipated to reach 3 to 4 degrees Celsius. According to the rules of the Paris Agreement, the countries are required to revise their contributions by 2020.
In the so-called Talanoa Dialogue, country representatives discuss their national climate contributions. This dialogue format was introduced at last year’s climate change conference under the Fijian Presidency. It is intended to create a basis for the further process of revising the NDCs by 2020.
At COP24 under the Presidency of Poland, it is also expected that the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement will be adopted, which are decisive in order to monitor the outcomes achieved.
Implementing the Paris Agreement means boosting ambition
"Katowice must give the go-ahead to significantly increase ambition in terms of climate protection," says Manfred Fischedick, Vice-President of the Wuppertal Institute, adding: "In view of the implementation gap that has been increasing from year to year, it would be best if as many countries as possible brought concrete commitments to the table in Katowice. As a minimum, however, we need countries to submit significantly improved contributions over the next two years." Furthermore, the conference should renew the call to countries to develop long-term climate protection strategies that are underpinned by concrete measures in addition to the short-term contributions. "The benchmark is clear: global greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced to zero by 2050, if we are to achieve the targets agreed upon in Paris. How this can take place should be incorporated in the long-term strategies and set out in a clear road map. In developed countries such as Germany, we should achieve these targets before 2050 and develop a blueprint which can be adapted by other countries for their own use," explains Fischedick. "In this respect, it is a pity that it has not been possible, as originally planned on the basis of the work of the Commission for Structural Change, to find of way, in advance of the COP, that will allow the gradual phasing out of carbon-intensive coal-fired power generation, without jeopardising our security of supply and competitiveness," he adds.
Negotiating the "small print"
A further challenge in Katowice will be agreeing the detailed rules for implementing the Paris Agreement. In this respect, the design of the so-called transparency framework is decisive, as well as the requirements for structuring the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). It is a case of how the decisions made in Paris can be implemented in practice and how the countries' emissions can be measured and verified in a transparent way. Such requirements do not currently exist and overall, the national contributions are not very transparent and difficult to compare with one another: "As is the case with any contract, the small print is of vital importance. This is what will determine whether the accord will be able to provide what we have expected it to since Paris, or whether it will become a toothless paper tiger," says Wolfgang Obergassel, Project Co-ordinator for the Energy, Transport and Climate Policy Division at the Wuppertal Institute. "The rules of implementation for the Paris Agreement must ensure that the national contributions can be evaluated in a transparent way and that there are no loopholes."
The Wuppertal Institute provides impetus for the future with side events
With the "Silesia Climate Lounge", the Wuppertal Institute addresses key issues of the COP in collaboration with the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the EnergieAgentur.NRW, the Polish Province of Silesia and the French region of Hauts-de-France. For many years, the Province of Silesia and the regions of Hauts-de-France and North Rhine-Westphalia have entertained a close relationship and enjoyed a lively exchange of ideas at both a political and an administrative level in the context of the so-called "Weimar Triangle". In the past, these three regions were centres of coal and steel production and currently face very similar challenges in terms of structural change. With the Silesia Climate Lounge, the regions are therefore taking the opportunity of organising a series of joint events dedicated to an important part of their collaboration on the topic of "Climate change mitigation and economic development". The Wuppertal Institute and the EnergieAgentur.NRW are partners in this series of events.
Alongside this, the Wuppertal Institute is organising a series of side events at COP24 to present its research projects and findings on site and to engage in discussions with delegates and practice partners. These will also address specific areas that have hitherto been somewhat neglected during the climate negotiations, although they are key to implementing the global climate change mitigation targets. Key topics at the side events concentrate on issues such as how reductions in emissions and sustainable development can be promoted at a practical level. The main focuses are on "Climate protection in the industrial sector" and "Pathways to sustainable mobility".
Analysing the outcomes of the conference
Shortly after the close of the conference, the Wuppertal Institute will publish an initial evaluation of the outcomes. The scientists will present these outcomes on 19 December 2018 from 12:30 in Berlin, at the Wuppertal Lunch on the topic of "COP24 in Katowice – from Establishing Rules to their Implementation?". A detailed analytical report will follow in January 2019.
The series of events known as the "Wuppertal Lunch – Impulses for Transformative Research", which takes place in Berlin on a quarterly basis, addresses current topics from the research units of the Wuppertal Institute and discusses these with guests in the relaxing environment of a lunch.
Further information on the Silesia Climate Lounge, the programme of the side events, the Wuppertal Lunch and COP24 is available by clicking on the following links.
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