Tackling Challenges of Climate Changes

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Ugo Aliogo writes on the Katowice Climate Package established to ensure the targets agreed at Conference of Parties (COP21) Paris in 2015 to curb greenhouse gas pollution, mainly CO2 from burning fossil fuels

Governments of nations have adopted a robust set of guidelines for implementing the landmark 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

This, according to negotiators at the 24th annual UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP24), Katowice, Poland, should lead to a new era of global climate action that would begin under the Paris climate change agreement. The implementation of the agreement will benefit people from all walks of life, especially the most vulnerable.

The agreed ‘Katowice Climate Package’ was designed to operationalise the climate change regime contained in the Paris Agreement. Under the auspices of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, it will promote international cooperation and encourage greater ambition.

The guidelines would promote trust among nations that all countries are playing their part in addressing the challenge of climate change.

With 197 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise in this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

The President of COP24, Mr. Michal Kurtyka of Poland, said: “All nations have worked tirelessly. All nations showed their commitment. All nations can leave Katowice with a sense of pride, knowing that their efforts have paid off.
“The guidelines contained in the Katowice climate package provide the basis for implementing the agreement as of 2020.”

The Katowice package includes guidelines that would operationalise the transparency framework. It sets out how countries will provide information about their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that described their domestic climate actions.

This information includes mitigation and adaptation measures as well as details of financial support for climate action in developing countries.

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 mobilising $100 billion per year from 2020 to support developing countries

•How to conduct the Global Stock take of the effectiveness of climate action in 2023

•How to assess progress on the development and transfer of technology

The UN Climate Chief, Ms. Patricia Espinosa said: “This is an excellent achievement! The multilateral system has delivered a solid result. This is a roadmap for the international community to decisively address climate change.
“The guidelines that delegations have been working on day and night are balanced and clearly reflect how responsibilities are distributed amongst the world’s nations. They incorporate the fact that countries have different capabilities and economic and social realities at home, while providing the foundation for ever increasing ambition.”

The agreed guidelines mean that countries can now establish the national systems that are needed for implementing the Paris Agreement as of 2020. The same will be done at the international level.
Functioning together, these systems will ensure that nations can act in an atmosphere of trust and assess progress of their climate actions.

“While some details will need to be finalised and improved over time, the system is to the largest part place,” Espinosa said.

The main issues still to be resolved concern the use of cooperative approaches, as well as the sustainable development mechanism, as contained in the Paris Agreement’s article 6. These would allow countries to meet a part of their domestic mitigation goals through the use of so-called “market mechanisms”.

Market mechanisms provide flexible instruments for reducing the costs of cutting emissions, such as carbon markets.
Here, the Paris agreement recognises the need for global rules to safeguard the integrity of all countries’ efforts.

These global rules are important to ensure that each tonne of emissions released into the atmosphere is accounted for. In this way progress towards the emission limitation goals of the Paris Agreement can be accurately measured.
“From the beginning of the COP, it very quickly became clear that this was one area that still required much work and that the details to operationalize this part of the Paris Agreement had not yet been sufficiently explored,” noted Espinosa.

“After many rich exchanges and constructive discussions, the greatest majority of countries were willing to agree and include the guidelines to operationalize the market mechanisms in the overall package”, she said. “Unfortunately, in the end, the differences could not be overcome”.

Because of these, countries have agreed to finalise the details for market mechanisms in the coming year in view of adopting them at the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP25).

In his opening remarks at the event, the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, noted that the planet is in deeply in trouble with climate change.

He said climate change is running faster than humanity thinks and there is need to catch up sooner rather than later before it is too late, adding that for many, people, regions even countries this is already a matter of life and death.

He remarked that the meeting is the most important gathering on climate change since the Paris Agreement was signed, “it is hard to overstate the urgency of our situation.”

Guterres, explained that even as the world witnesses the devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, humanity is still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption.

According to him, “The climate action offers a compelling path to transform our world for the better. Let me turn first to science.

According to the World Meteorological Organisation, the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the top four in the past four years. The concentration of carbon dioxide is the highest it has been in 3 million years. Emissions are now growing again.

“The recent special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change finds that warming could reach 1.5 degrees as soon as 2030, with devastating impacts. The latest UN environment programme emissions gap report tells us that the current nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement will lead to global warming of about 3 degrees by the end of the century.

“Furthermore, the majority of countries most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions are behind in their efforts to meet their Paris pledges. We need more action and more ambition. We absolutely have to close this emissions gap.
“If we fail, the Arctic and Antarctic will continue to melt, corals will bleach and then die, the oceans will rise, more people will die from air pollution, water scarcity will plague a significant proportion of humanity, and the cost of disasters will skyrocket.

“Last year I visited Barbuda and Dominica, which were devastated by hurricanes. The destruction and suffering I saw was heart-breaking. That story is repeated almost daily somewhere in the world. These emergencies are preventable. Emissions must decline by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and be net zero by 2050. Renewable energy will need to supply half to two-thirds of the world’s primary energy by 2050 with a corresponding reduction in fossil fuels.”
In his remarks, the Founder of Lufasi Nature Park, Mr. Desmond Majekodunmi, noted that the main purpose of the Conference of the Parties (COP24), was to establish measures to ensure that the targets agreed at COP21 Paris in 2015 to curb greenhouse gas pollution, mainly CO2 from burning fossil fuels, were firmly established.

He also noted prior to the Katowice conference, reports from two of the world’s major climate agencies had been released, adding that those most alarming reports came from the IPCC (International Panel for Climate Change) and the WMO (World meteorological Organisation).

He said the two agencies gave very glaring warnings about the implications of not meeting the greenhouse gas pollution targets set by all nations earlier in Paris in 2015.

Majekodunmi, explained that the CO2 emissions targets agreed to by all nations of the world, if strictly adhered to, would hopefully keep the earth’s average temperature from rising above 1.5 degrees centigrade pre industrial era levels and in the worst case scenario 2 degrees, “above which we could trigger off runaway climate change that would become unstoppable and catastrophic.”

He added that the two agencies also warned that the world were already experiencing the destructive effects of the anthropogenic global warming induced climate change with massive fire storms, rain bombs, floods, draughts and sea coral die off occurring globally.

According to Majekodunmi, “They warned that this was only the beginning of what could become truly catastrophic occurrences that would eventually threaten our very existence on this planet.

“However, the climate reports stated that after thorough evaluation, it was clear that we are not on target to meet even the two degrees goal, that CO2 pollution which had dropped in 2015 and 2016 had been rising steadily since 2017 and other greenhouse gases like methane from modern agricultural practices and melting permafrost were now adding to the rapidly rising greenhouse effect.

“Despite these stark warnings, attendees to the Katowice talks, where President Muhammadu Buhari had made an impassioned plea for assistance to save the fast shrinking Lake Chad, soon started sending out very troubling signals that the talks were being bogged down by the nonchalant attitudes of representatives of some of the major polluting nations, led by the USA, who actually had the audacity to openly lobby for relaxing restrictions on fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

“At one stage it looked like there might be no agreement at all and the COP21 Paris accord would be scuttled. It was at this stage that the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierrez rushed back to the talks and made his astonishing statement that ‘failure to take this opportunity to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions would not only be highly irresponsible but suicidal.’

He reminded delegates that already the lives of tens of millions of people were in the balance and that the future of our children was in grave jeopardy.
“This highly emotional last minute effort by the SG had the desired impact and finally the delegates agreed to ramp up their efforts to ensure that we are able to keep to the agreed limits. Substantial amounts of funding were also pledged for developing nations to establish adaptation and mitigation measures.

“My fervent prayer is that the global governments shall rapidly walk the talk in order to beat the deadline of turning the pollution around in the next twelve years that the IPCC has warned us about. My hope however lies in the young generation, whose future is being threatened, to take up the gauntlet and enforce compliance.”