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No consensus yet among nations on enforcement rulebook for climate change

Developed countries were to contribute an annual $100 million to developing nations to mitigate the effects of climate change under the Paris agreement.

environment Updated: Dec 08, 2018 23:58 IST
Jayashree Nandi
Jayashree Nandi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Climate change,Global warming,COP24
Protesters take part in the March for the Climate on the streets of Katowice, where the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 is held, Poland December 8, 2018.(REUTERS)

Global negotiations under way in Katowice, Poland, to evolve a rulebook for enforcing the 2015 Paris agreement to curb climate change have made little headway a week into their fortnight’s duration amid persisting differences over key issues such as climate finance.

Delegates to COP24, as the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is known, are discussing a 307-page draft rulebook that will spell out how various provisions of the agreement kick in to force.

The draft deals with issues such as periodic reporting of action being taken by the 195 signatories to the accord in meeting the so-called nationally determined contributions (NDCs) they had committed to, how much finance will flow in from developed to developing countries to mitigate the effects of climate change and in what form (bilateral or multilateral loans or grants). Negotiators in the Polish city are talking about rich countries taking the lead in implementing the agreement and the less well-off taking action in accordance with their capacities.

Government officials and representatives of non-government organisations at COP24 said progress has been slow and major disagreements persist on key issues.

“The process is still evolving. On every section of the agreement document, there are disagreements. Differentiation and climate finance are major sore points which will have to be resolved,” said Ravi Shankar Prasad, joint secretary in the Union environment ministry.

Environment secretary CK Mishra, who returned last week from the negotiations, said: “There is good momentum. We are not sure yet if the outcome will be optimum.”

Developed countries were to contribute an annual $100 million to developing nations to mitigate the effects of climate change under the Paris agreement.

Developed countries are not spending enough to mitigate the impact of climate change, the Indian ministry of finance submitted at COP24. In a paper titled ‘3 Essential “S”s of Climate Finance — Scope, Scale and Speed: A Reflection’ released on the sidelines of the conference, the ministry questioned climate finance values being reported by developed countries as having been transferred by them to developing countries.

The ministry quoted a recently released report of the standing committee on finance by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which assessed the total climate finance flows based on the biennial assessment reports of developed countries. The total climate-specific finance flows from Annex II Parties (which include the US, Australia and European Union) in 2016, according to this report, amounted to only around $ 38 billion which is less than 40% of the $100 billion target of climate finance.

“Progress (COP24) is very slow and a lot of things need to be agreed upon. Ministers meeting from next week would require discussions on a wide array of issues. These include equity, differentiation, forward looking finance, and flexibility in reporting would especially require a spirit of compromise to arrive at a consensus,” Vijeta Rattani of the climate change division at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said.

The negotiations will continue for another week until December 14. Ministers of the negotiating countries will meet next week to iron out the differences.

In the first week of the Katowice conference, scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) briefed delegates about the consequences of not meeting their climate goals and the urgency for enhancing the goals to prevent global warming of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

An IPCC report in October, titled ‘Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees’, warned that the Earth will face devastating consequences of climate change if the world fails to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels. The UN 1.5-degree report also warned that India will be one of the worst affected by heat stress resulting from climate change.

Crops, plantations, even livestock in 151 districts, or slightly more than one-fifth of the total districts in India, are susceptible to the impact of climate change, according to an annual review by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), a wing of the agriculture ministry.

“It is notable that the first week started off with the long shadow of IPCC which stressed the urgency of climate action. A few parties also called for 1.5 degrees to be the official goal of the Paris agreement. That said, there are still many issues like transparency for reporting on finance by developed countries, allowing for differentiation in many sections which are crucial and have to be addressed in the next week when the high-level segment begins,” said Aarti Khosla of Climate Trends, a research and communications organisation.

Climate scientists are hoping that negotiators take their warnings seriously.

“At the climate negotiations, it is always the case that nothing is agreed upon in the first week,” said NH Ravindranath, a climate scientist from Indian Institute of Science (IISc). “In the second week, towards the end, things start improving. In all paragraphs being negotiated on, there will be some bracketed parts that are later decided. Monitoring, reporting and verification of how countries are acting against climate change is among the many contentious issues. But I am hopeful that there will be something to look forward to at the end of next week.”

First Published: Dec 08, 2018 22:27 IST