COP24 climate summit begins in test of international resolve to tackling climate change

COP24 climate summit begins in test of international resolve to tackling climate change

Today, delegations from the 197 countries of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will gather in Katowice, Poland (COP24)

Smoke and steam billows from Belchatow Power Station, Europe’s largest coal-fired power plant operated by PGE Group, near Belchatow,

Photo: Reuters/Kacper Pempel

Today, delegations from the 197 countries of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will gather in Katowice, Poland (COP24) to try and implement commitments to the 2015 Paris Agreement—the most significant achievement of the 1992 Framework.

This year’s gathering is important, as COP24 is the first big test of whether the Paris targets will be realised by 2020. The big Paris goal is to keep global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To get there, signatories must agree to a common rulebook on how to measure and report their greenhouse emissions so that by 2020, each country will have a ‘national climate plan’ to reduce them.

This is expected to be tough to achieve. A major hurdle will be the nationalist agendas of recently-elected populist governments like Brazil—which is threatening to pull out, and the US—its June 2017 withdrawal will take effect in 2020. The US will press hard for developed countries, supported by the likes of Australia, not to be subject to stricter rules than developing countries like China. Poorer countries will press for the realisation of green climate funding from developed countries to meet their goals but this year’s $100 billion target won’t be met. Paris’ 2020 targets are at risk of being missed.

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