COP 24: Opportunity to move Paris Agreement forward

(VOVWORLD) -  Since the Paris Agreement was signed 3 years ago, the signatories have been slow to implement the agreement. The UN Conference on Climate Change (COP 24) in Poland is a fresh opportunity to set clear guidelines for the implementation.

The 200 signatories of the 2015 Paris Agreement have until December 14 to finalize guidelines for keeping global warming below 2 degrees C. The problem is that the climate is changing much faster than the global climate change response.

COP 24 may be last chance to get serious

COP 24 in Poland is one of the last two conferences before the 2015 Paris Agreement takes effect in 2020. So far not many countries have taken any action to reduce the impact of climate change. In the last three years, extreme weather phenomena have increased: a lot of people have died in fierce forest fires, people’s health and agricultural production have been negatively affected by extreme hot spell with temperatures exceeding 40 degrees C and prolonged droughts. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and typhoons have caused widespread devastation, rising sea levels, and repeated flooding.

Uncontrolled global warming is the main cause of climate change. UN meteorology and environment agencies warn that global temperatures could rise 3 to 5 degrees C in this century, much higher than the target rise of 1.5 - 2 degrees C set out in the Paris Agreement. Global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 could be 13 billion to 15 billion tons above the level needed to keep global warming within 2 degrees Celsius this century.  This means the world needs to at least triple its efforts to realize the goal.

COP 24 in Poland will focus on setting guidelines for implementing the Paris Agreement demanding that signatories make a clear political commitment and create an action plan to realize the goals by 2020.

Tough goals

Representatives of most UN members will participate in the climate conference but not top leaders. The US withdrew from the agreement last year. French Prime Minister Edourd Philippe, a principal supporter of this event, canceled his attendance due to the recent domestic crisis. Most European countries sent representatives to the conference but only ministry-level officials. The delegations from African countries will include Presidents of Nigeria, Benin, Senegal, Botswana, Mauritania and Congo.

On the threshold of COP 24, Brazil withdrew its offer to host COP 25 next year. In his election campaign, newly-elected President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro said he would follow the US’s example and withdraw from the Paris Agreement, Bolsonaro objects to measures to protect the Amazon forest. His decision is likely to have a domino effect other countries.

Tensions between the US and China have affected policies on climate change response. A commitment by developed countries to give 100 billion USD a year until 2020 to support the climate policies of developing countries has been suspended. After 3 years, only 10 billion USD have been mobilized. The world seems stalled in its fight against climate change.