Since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted in 1992, parties have met at least once a year to further the implementation of the Convention. This year, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change– COP 24–will take place in Katowice, Poland from 2-14 December. Parties to the Kyoto Protocol will also meet. The Katowice Conference will mark the third anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement, which was agreed to in 2015.
COP24 must unleash the full potential of the Paris Agreement by finalizing the Paris Agreement Work Programme. This will put into place the practical implementation guidelines needed to track progress and ensure that climate action is transparent. This in turn will build trust and send a signal that governments are serious about addressing climate change. COP24 also needs to establish a clear way forward on climate finance to ensure greater support for climate action in developing countries.
What countries say in Poland will determine climate efforts and action for years to come. With high-level events, panel discussions and roundtables, COP24 should address three main issues: the rules and procedures for how countries will meet their commitments, how climate action will be financed, and “ambition”—what countries may be willing to do to exceed their Paris emissions-cutting commitments when they’re updated in 2020. The Paris Agreement Work Programme will make the Paris Agreement fully operational by unlocking ambitious action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and to empower developing countries.
In early October, the special report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the world is already witnessing the consequences of 1°C of global warming. There is already more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes. Every bit of additional warming brings greater risks. There are clear benefits to limiting warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C: 420 million fewer people being exposed to severe heat waves, survival of some tropical coral reefs, loss of fewer plants and animal species, and the protection of forests and wetland habitats.
In September 2019, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will convene a climate summit to mobilize political and economic efforts at the highest level possible to strengthen climate action and ambition worldwide. Even if all the commitments made by countries for the Paris Agreement are achieved, the world will still be on a course to warm by more than 3°C this century. In advance of the 2020 deadline for countries to raise their commitments in their national climate plans, the Summit will focus on practical initiatives to limit emissions and build climate resilience. The Summit will focus on driving action in six areas; namely, energy transition, climate finance and carbon pricing, industry transition, nature-based solutions, cities and local action, and resilience.