Photo: COP24 Opening Ceremony. Credit: UNFCCC. - Photo: 2018

Polish Perspectives of the UN Climate Change Conference

By Aleksandra Gadzinski

KATOWICE (IDN) – “We can’t afford to fail in Katowice,” declared UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his opening remarks to the two-week-long 24th session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in southern Poland.

The political will to fight climate change had faded since the Paris Agreement three years ago. The accord in December 2015 saw countries agree to step up efforts to fight the pressing problem of global warming. But with temperatures rising, oceans warming and glaciers receding faster than expected, climate change was running away from us.

COP24 comes in the wake of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releasing a damning report, which estimates that global greenhouse emissions would need to be curbed by 45% by 2030 in order to stay below a 1.5-degree rise in temperature.

It is the third time Poland is hosting a climate change conference since COP14 in Poznań in 2008 and COP19 in Warsaw in 2013.

A major task the Polish presidency has set itself for COP24 is to work out and adopt a package of decisions ensuring the full implementation of the Paris Agreement, in accordance with the decisions adopted in Paris (COP21) and in Marrakesh – the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1).

COP24 will also include the so-called Facilitative Dialogue intended to support the implementation of national commitments. During COP24 Poland intends to demonstrate how neutrality in terms of greenhouse gas emissions – a balance between CO2 emissions and its sequestration by soils and forests – can be achieved.

Subsequently, the Polish presidency plans to focus its attention on three key topics:

Technology – to show that there are climate-friendly modern solutions, such as electromobility allowing for sustainable urban development, clean air and an opportunity for modern jobs,

Human – emphasizing the need to lead change together with people through the solidarity and fair transformation of regions and industrial sectors, and

Nature – including multifunctional and sustainable forest management as part of climate neutrality and the role of forests as greenhouse gas sinks, and support for a synergic view of the three UN key conventions: on climate, on biodiversity and on desertification.

In each of the three themes, the Polish presidency plans to achieve a concrete result, which will be served by three declarations constituting an important contribution to the global climate protection policy.

As a result, it will be enriched with three perspectives, with a broader view that considers the importance of removals, the role of agriculture and biodiversity, respond to rapidly growing transport emissions, and places the perspective of human and his work in the centre of climate issues.

The Driving Change Together Partnership for Electromobility and Zero Emission Transport is dedicated to technological and organisational change towards zero emission transport.

Maintaining the current rate of development, including the development of urban agglomerations and megacities, while keeping the current model of transport and the dominant types of propulsion and energy sources, is incompatible with the promotion of a sustainable transport model and the reduction of dependence on fossil fuels.

Declaration on fair transformation under the motto: Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration is dedicated to ensuring a fair and solidarity-based transformation that will help to protect the climate while maintaining economic development and jobs. Development should be economically, socially, environmentally and climatically responsible.

That is why the path we want to follow is socially and environmentally sustainable development, with an emphasis on modernisation, technological change and the implementation of innovations enabling a more efficient and environmentally friendly use of resources.

The Silesian Ministerial Declaration “Forests for Climate” on the conservation and increase of carbon stocks in greenhouse gas sinks and reservoirs until 2050 indicates the key role of sinks and will help to achieve the objective set out by the Paris Agreement.

The COP24 outcome the Polish presidency envisages is to adopt a decision ensuring full implementation of the Paris Agreement (the so-called implementation package – the Katowice Rules). The implementation package will give the Paris Agreement a realistic shape by setting out a path that each country will decide to follow in terms of intensifying its climate protection efforts. To put it simply, “there is no Paris Agreement without Katowice”.

The ambition of the Polish presidency, according to senior officials is to adopt rules and tools that will create a systemic solution for the whole world, replacing the point-based discussion on fragmented objectives, which doesn’t allow for a comprehensive approach to all important areas of emissions (such as transport, energy, buildings, agriculture), removals balancing emissions (forests, soils), implementation measures (including financing) and measures to adapt economies to expected changes in the future (the so-called adaptation measures).

“The success of Katowice will be to make progress in the mechanisms without which the Paris Agreement will not be able to function in real terms,” said an official.

Apart from the implementation package, named Katowice Rules, COP24 will host two important events at the ministerial level. The first event constituting a financial framework for climate protection will be the 3rd Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Financing (according to Decision 3/CP.19), dedicated to assessing progress in meeting the developed countries’ commitment to mobilise USD 100 billion annually by 2020.

The second event constituting a joint reflection on how the Parties should achieve together the objectives of the Paris Agreement will be the Talanoa Dialogue. “It will be an opportunity for Poland to highlight its positive contribution to climate protection, underlining the scale, importance and effectiveness of national policies, especially in the areas of clean air, electromobility and increasing forest resources. It will also be a forum to discuss the level of global ambition.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 03 December 2018]

Photo: COP24 Opening Ceremony. Credit: UNFCCC.

IDN is the flagship of International Press Syndicate. –

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