COP24: Katowice hammers out Paris rulebook despite headwinds, countries agree to enhanced ambition by 2020

The two week long UN climate conference in freezing Katowice agreed to a  decision at around 10 pm local time, after talks went into overtime on Saturday, December 15. In the final outcome, the hardwork of all countries has given a ‘decent’ outcome on operationalizing the Paris Agreement.

COP24 was supposed to develop a set of rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. It was tasked to set in place procedures and guidelines which will determine how the Paris Agreement will be delivered. Accounting and review of climate commitments, commitment and review of finance, and setting up mechanisms that keep transparency for reporting and sharing information were the central elements to this discussion. COP24 has at least set a platform from which to enhance and aim for a strong rulebook.

From the start of the negotiations two weeks ago, the climate meet came a long way. Technical and specific as it was, it is clear that the meed made fragmented progress, even though much ground is yet to be covered, to make the guidelines robust, and those can deliver on the mandate of the Paris Agreement- the first multilateral agreement to combat climate change which acknowledged contribution from all countries to able to mitigate  and adapt to a warming world.

The decision on carbon markets which became crucial as the crunch moments built up, held up the talks for one working day, with the discussion now being moved to the next year. Decisions on finance and differentiation demand more attention.

Against geo-political headwinds the climate talks did offer signs of hope. Countries agreed on common rules that will ensure greater scrutiny and transparency on the progress of global climate action, building confidence between countries and their citizens, businesses and investors. They also agreed that 2020 is the year for countries to come forward with tougher climate plans. And that the UN Secretary General’s 2019 summit will mark the halfway point in that journey.


Headline outcomes

  • Rulebook got signed off, operationalizing the Paris Agreement, putting all countries on a level playing field to account and report on their climate action.
  • Governments will update their climate plans by 2020, and several countries have used the COP to announce that they have already started their preparations.
  • Parties agreed to use the 2019 United Nations Secretary General summit as an opportunity for Heads of States to demonstrate their plans to enhance ambition by 2020.
  • Donor countries agreed to increase predictability on climate finance, with the aim of providing greater confidence to vulnerable countries.
  • COP25 will be held in Chile, with a pre-COP in Costa Rica.


Highlights of country commitments for higher climate targets

  • Costa Rica declared it is planning to review its NDC by 2020
  • The Maldives announced that it will review its NDC in 2019
  • Chile said it has already started a process of reviewing its NDC
  • Ukraine announced that it would review its NDC by 2020
  • Vietnam announced that it is planning to update their NDC available by 2019
  • Norway said that they are looking at how it can enhance ambition by 2020
  • Qatar mentioned that they are now elaborating a new NDC
  • Lebanon commented that they are trying to revise their NDC before 2020
  • Barbados mentioned a new NDC


Highlights of finance commitments

  • Adaptation Fund: total contributions US$538m before COP24 (total: US$127.14m with CER sales) with COP24 pledges totalling US$129m / Largest contributions: Germany pledged €70m, Italy pledged €7m, France: €15m, EU commission: €10m
  • Green Climate Fund: total contributions (as of November 2018) US$10.3bn / Largest contributions: Germany and Norway pledged to double their GCF contributions (€1.5bn and $516m respectively) in the upcoming replenishment
  • Least Developed Countries Fund: total contributions (up to date) of US$1.33bn with COP24 pledges totalling US$28.2m / Largest contributions:  Sweden pledged $5.5m (50Kr), France pledged €20 million


What the experts said:

Laurence Tubiana, CEO European Climate Foundation and key architect of the Paris Agreement

“Despite all the headwinds, the Paris Agreement has stayed course at COP24, demonstrating the kind of resilience it has been designed for. The decisions made here on the Paris rulebook give us a solid foundation to keep building trust in multilateralism and accelerate the transition all across the world.”

“The societal concern about global warming grew substantially over the year, also due to extreme weather events and the IPCC’s 1.5 degree report. We’ve seen climate marches and children going on school strike for more climate action all across Europe that built momentum for COP24. The Future of Europe Summit in May is a golden opportunity for EU leaders to increase the climate pledges for 2030 substantially and describe the EU’s long-term decarbonisation pathway.”

Jonathan Pershing, former U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change

“The completion of almost all parts of the Paris Agreement ‘Rulebook’ is a major milestone accomplished at this session in Poland, although the crucial rules governing carbon markets must still be decided. It sends a very clear signal of the global community’s intent to continue to aggressively press forward on the urgent task of addressing climate change.  Governments, the business community, and civil society must now turn their attention to the next phase of the process–ratcheting up ambition, and undertaking critical on-the-ground implementation through policies, investments and concerted action to avoid the damages that will arise from unabated emissions.”

M Kurtyka, Polish Presidency

There are close to 200 countries involved in the process. You have made a thousand little steps together. You can feel proud. This deal hangs in fragile balance. We will all have to give in order to gain.

Mr R. R. Rashmi, distinguished fellow TERI & former Indian negotiator

“This COP has made reasonably good progress despite all odds. The conclusions adopted by the COP on the rules and modalities for implementing the Paris agreement are fairly substantive if not as ambitious as were expected. However, the continuing work programme on some issues and the likely climate summit convened by the UNSG next year give ample opportunity to all the stakeholders to close the remaining gaps and scale up their ambition in the post-2020 period.”

Arun Kumar Mehta, Head of Delegation for India –  Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change – 12/14/2018 – Said at the media briefing organised after the closing of the India Pavilion

“Our brief was very clear, we are hear to move forward, to play a positive and constructive role. And we have done so.

Our desire would be that everyone is happy with the text. Addressing loss and damage arising due climate impacts is a discussion that will not end here, and will continue to go on in future negotiations as well.The important details around finance from developed to developing countries  have been adequately captured and we feel that by the time the talks close, the details on the finance will meet the mandate of the Paris agreement. Text needs to be developed in a way that would allow parties to work together rather than allow parties to walk away.

We believe that we must have a robust agreement, build  transparent rules, and factor in the concerns of the vulnerable people of the world.”

David Levaï, IDDRI

“The COP finally agreed on a set of rules to allow for the full implementation of the Paris agreement. It also called on countries to launch a domestic process to determine how they will be able to enhance their climate ambition. The responsibility is now in the hands of world leaders to come ready to the UN summit next year with a clear plan on how they will transition their economies to become resilient and low carbon.

During this COP substantial progress was made on climate finance: contributions to multilateral funds (GCF AF LDCF) as well as progress towards the goal of mobilizing 100bn USD per year from 2020 (almost 75bn in 2016) have contributed to strengthen trust between developed and developing nations.

It is clear, nevertheless, that it’s only a step in the right direction: further concrete signals and commitments will be needed to assure developing countries that they will be supported in their efforts to accelerate their transition towards resilient and low carbon societies.”

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