• Donald Eubank

Katowice won't be remembered for finalizing the Paris Agreement rulebook

Updated: Aug 2



STEP BY STEP - Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice in December (COP24) | UNFCC

We at Read the Air are very happy to see that 200 countries at the COP24 negotiations came to a consensus on the creation of the Katowice Rulebook, the common system for enacting the Paris Agreement and its commitments.

Carbon Brief reports that “Overall, the deal tends towards single sets of rules for all countries, with wide latitude for those that lack the capacity to meet them.”

Yet, there are vital areas that COP24 negotiators failed to agree upon, kicking key components of the rulebook down the road to COP25 next year in Chile.

The biggest subject that was left for later negotiations was how the actual market mechanisms contained in Article 6 work. Brazil objected to removing the allowances for “double counting” of Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes – carbon credits trading between countries. Not doing so is a real failure in the effort to establish proper environmental accounting for climate policies. If the double counting loophole is not closed, then it will be difficult to say that the rulebook has created a properly functioning market for carbon emission credits.


As well, the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait rejected the inclusion of the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the 1.5 degree Celsius versus 2 degree Celsius scenarios. The full “welcoming” of the IPCC report would have established a shared scientific baseline from which to set targets, confirming the urgency to act and encouraging the acceleration of countries’ ambitions on reducing emissions.

BBC reports on a member from one delegation as saying at COP24 about the result, "it's what's possible, but not what's necessary."

Small island states, on the front line of climate change in dealing with rising waters, were not pleased with the reluctance to finalize these issues. I’ve seen representatives of the Maldives speak at international development events in the last year, and they are viscerally and publically angry about the situation they are facing. Abdulla Yameen, the Prime Minister of the Maldives was blunt about the failure to resolve these outstanding issues according to Businessgreen.com. "You cannot cut a deal with science," he said at meeting held by the High Ambition Coalition. "You cannot negotiate with the laws of physics."

On the bright side, negotiators have one more year before the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the final rulebook in 2020, providing a last opportunity for the necessary structure to be finally put in place next year. Yet, this is a lost chance to provide meaningful forward guidance to national governments, industry associations and businesses in order to prepare for that implementation.

That doesn’t mean that policy makers and businesses are powerless to take actions to get ready, though. For now, we support the International Emissions Trading Association’s call, in the words of IETA President and CEO Dirk Forrister, that “committed countries and businesses should team up to start building cooperative markets - and the rule writers can catch up later.”

IETA: COP24 fails to deliver on mandate for carbon market cooperation

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A MORAL CALL - (above) opening of UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice in December (COP24); (above right) Greta Thunberg – the schoolgirl who, following Sweden’s hottest summer ever, decided to go on school strike at the parliament to get politicians to act on climate change | UNFCC


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