Thursday, December 20, 2018

Climate Talks in Poland End on a Mixed Note

For the first two weeks in December negotiators from 196 countries and the European Union worked on a Climate Package to implement the Paris Agreement. You might be surprised that the United States was not only present, but reportedly paid a significant role in the negotiations. While the President of the United States said he intends to withdraw from the Paris Accord, that cannot be done until 2020.

The United States was present at the talks and participated in discussions to secure the deal. At the Katowice, Poland climate change conference called COP24 Katowice. The conference was intended to approve technical rules to govern how nations will put into action the soft goals they set in the Paris Agreement of 2015, when the world agreed to hold global warming to no more than 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration to limit temperature rises to no more than 1.5 degrees C.

They made enough progress to continue moving forward; however, on a critical but complicated issue involving how countries trade and account for certain pollution they were not able to come to an agreement. Nonetheless, mankind is nowhere near on track to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases to meet the goal of keeping global temperatures within 1.5 degrees C. In order to avoid exceeding 1.5 degrees C of warming, the recent The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) ,the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, says carbon pollution must be cut almost in half by 2030, less than 12 years away, and then reach "net zero" by mid-century. New research shows that global emissions of CO2 equivalents continue to rise, despite the Paris accord. Total annual greenhouse gases emissions, including from land-use change, reached a record high of 53.5 Gigatons of CO2 equivalents in 2017, an increase of 0.7 from 2016.

The problem is that under the Paris Agreement China has only agreed to stop growing their CO2 emissions by 2030 and the reduction in emissions pledged so far are nowhere near sufficient to hold temperature change to 2 degrees C according to the climate models. With China in 2016 as the largest CO2 emitter at slightly more than 26% of the total- twice the United States level, the goals of the Paris Agreement cannot be met without reductions in China and the other nations still growing their emissions and all other nations must increase the level of emissions cut pledged to even meet the 2 degree C goal, let along the aspirational goal of 1.5 degrees C.

The technical rules to govern how nations will put into action the promises or soft goals they set in the Paris Agreement; but were unable to settle on rules for the monitoring and trading of carbon credits.
from Oliver et. al 
For more information see the link below to read the entire reports.

Olivier J.G.J. et al. (2017), Trends in globalCO2 and total greenhouse gas emissions: 2017 report. PBL NetherlandsEnvironmental Assessment Agency, The Hague.

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