REFLECTIONS FROM COP24 IN KATOWICE, POLAND (PART 1)

01By Colleen Cloonan Swain: Women’s Leadership Development and Advocacy Associate Mercy International Association: Mercy Global Action at the UN: This past December, I was honored to attend the 24th Session of the Conference of Parities of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as COP 24. One of the main agenda items for this year’s conference was the finalization of the “Katowice Rulebook” which defines how climate action in the Paris Agreement is to be implemented and accounted for decades to come. Going into the conference, I knew these were ambitious goals but they were achievable with international cooperation and commitment.

 What were the Outcomes?

 Setbacks

 

  • Within the final text of the “Katowice Rulebook” there is no mention of human 02rights, despite the recognition of human rights within the preamble of the Paris Agreement. Negotiators were not willing to mix social policies and climate policies despite the two influencing one another.
  • Finance, the next contentious theme of COP 24, resulted in permissive texts giving wealthier Member States more flexibility with their contributions and reporting. Agreements were made to conduct negotiations on climate finance every two years after 2020.
  • Despite widespread support and recognition of the 1.5° IPCC report, four Member States (Russia, Saudi Arabia, United States, and Kuwait) were not willing to heed the urgency and need for increased ambition to stay below this temperature limit. As a result, the final text does not “welcome” the report but welcomed its “’timely completion” and “invited” countries to make use of the report in subsequent discussions at the UNFCCC’ (See CarbonBrief).
  • Although talk emphasized increased ambitions towards reducing carbon emissions, some Member States fell into the trap of placing profits over the people themselves. One strong testimony against this was from 15-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden who stated “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.” Watch her full speech here..

 

03Despite setbacks there were some positives at COP 24 as well.

For one, Member States agreed to the launch of a facilitative working group that will scale up consideration of the experiences of local communities and indigenous peoples with climate change and efforts to respond to it. Additionally, decisions will also be made at COP 25 in Chile regarding the Escazu Agreement, Latin America and the Caribbean’s first regional environmental treaty, which aims to protect the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters. These are important steps in the right direction as human rights and environmental defenders continue to risk their lives across the world.

There were also many inspiring showcases of ecosystem-based approaches and systems to aid waste reduction and promote sustainable consumption and production in many country pavilions, as well as knowledge from local communities shared (See useful resources on page 4). Lastly, the voices of civil society and youth were both strong and motivational in both the ministerial plenary sessions and events. The large presence of both civil society and youth focused discussions on ‘people over profit/polluters’ and the urgency to increase climate ambition (see picture above).

Beyond COP24

 Read more:

CarbonBrief Clear on Climatehttps://bit.ly/2rE6t83

Climate Action Network International: http://www.climatenetwork.org/

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