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article imageWorld faces ‘impossible’ task at post-Paris climate talks

By Karen Graham     Nov 29, 2018 in World
Three years after sealing the Paris Agreement, world leaders are making final preparations for the annual UN climate summit, which starts in Katowice, Poland on December 2 and runs through December 14. There are two crucial issues to be decided.
It has been three years now since nearly 200 countries signed the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, and this year's third-anniversary Climate Change Conference is as urgent as it is important, with two areas of crucial business to transact, according to The Arab News.
The first order of business will be for world leaders to deliver a clear political signal they are willing to ratchet up their collective climate change ambitions. This in itself will be challenging, seeing as the world is in such turmoil both politically and economically.
And secondly, world leaders will have to agree on a so-called "Paris Rulebook." The rulebook basically determines how countries will count their greenhouse gas emissions, how they will transparently report them to the rest of the world and, reveal what they are doing to reduce them.
“Looking from the outside perspective, it’s an impossible task,” Poland’s deputy environment minister, Michal Kurtyka, said of the talks he will preside over in Katowice, according to the Associated Press. Because of the high stakes at play in Katowice, many seasoned negotiators are calling the conference "Paris 2.0."
Needless to say, the rulebook and the collective agreement for the world to go ahead with their targets have to be completed by the end of the Poland conference, on December 14. This is because an emergency meeting in Thailand on this issue in September this year made only “limited” progress.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report
The conference is vastly overshadowed by the climate report issued on October 8 by the IPCC. The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its gloomy report at a meeting in Incheon, South Korea, with the warning that time is running out if the world wants to keep warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
The cost of climate-related disasters hit $2.25 billion over the last two decades  the  United Natio...
The cost of climate-related disasters hit $2.25 billion over the last two decades, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said, listing United States, China, Japan and India as countries where the financial toll has been highest
The pledges nations made in the Paris agreement in 2015 are “clearly insufficient to limit warming to 1.5 in any way,” one of the study’s lead authors, Joerj Roeglj of the Imperial College in London, said. The world has already seen one-degree Celsius rise in temperatures since the start of the industrial age.
The Katowice Conference will have “quite significant consequences for humanity and for the way in which we take care of our planet,” Kurtyka told the Associated Press ahead of the talks. This is because the Paris agreement let countries set their own emissions targets. Some are on track, others aren’t. And this is a problem.
The conference also comes at a time when the World Meteorological Organization released a statement last week saying globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide reached 405.5 parts per million in 2017, up slightly from the previous year and from 400.1 in 2015. Concentrations of other heat-trapping gases, like methane and nitrous oxide, also rose.
2018 report gives details on extreme weather  climate change impacts and indicators. set to be 4th w...
2018 report gives details on extreme weather, climate change impacts and indicators. set to be 4th warmest year on record
This year, the world can expect a 2-3 percent increase in carbon human-made emissions as the construction of coal-fired power plants in Asia and Africa continue while carbon-absorbing rainforests in the Amazon and Asia are felled faster than they can regrow.
“Everyone recognized that the national plans, when you add everything up, will take us way beyond 3, potentially 4 degrees Celsius warming,” said Johan Rockstrom, the incoming director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
“We know that we’re moving in the wrong direction,” Rockstrom told the AP. “We need to bend the global carbon emissions no later than 2020 — in two years’ time — to stand a chance to stay under 2 degrees Celsius.”
The key challenge in Katowice
It will be a challenge convincing countries to set tougher targets - and stick to them to get us past 2020. And it will require a transformation in all sectors of their economies, including energy, agriculture, and other industries. And we really have to do away with fossil fuels to make the transition work.
Countries will also need to get past the argument that large industrial countries should be paying more than small or poorer nations for mediating the impacts of climate change. Rich countries say they’re willing to lead the way, but only if poor nations play their part as well.
“Obviously not all countries are at the same stage of development,” said Lidia Wojtal, an associate with Berlin-based consultancy Climatekos and a former Polish climate negotiator. “So we need to also take that into account and differentiate between the responsibilities. And that’s a huge task.”
All in all, in the three years since the climate agreement was drawn up, there have been critics from different parts of the political spectrum trying their best to diminish its importance on a global scale. But the agreement should be defended for many reasons, primarily because of what former U.S. President Barack Obama said in 2015. The Paris Agreement may prove to be “the best chance we have to save the one planet we’ve got.”
World leaders have been trying to breathe new life into the Paris climate agreement amid backsliding...
World leaders have been trying to breathe new life into the Paris climate agreement amid backsliding from several nations -- most notably the United States
Oliver Berg, dpa/AFP/File
Don't expect to see President Donald Trump or Russian President Vladimir Putin at the conference that is expected to have nearly 40,000 guests from 200 countries. According to Russian News Agency, Tass, Putin is not planning to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland’s Katowice on December 2-15, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday.
"The president’s schedule does not have this [event]," Peskov said, noting that Russia may be represented at this conference by a government official.
As for the U.S., Trump is using the conference to illustrate the importance of pushing "clean coal." Proponents of coal and natural gas will dominate the panel, which will also likely feature a U.S. Energy Department representative. There are no plans to include a representative for the green energy industry.
More about Climate change conference, KATOWICE Poland, paris rule book, Paris 20, political signal
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