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COP24 talks: Some countries unhappy with Paris rulebook, say it doesn’t mention urgency of climate change

Dec 16, 2018

A near final text on the Paris rulebook —guidelines for implementing the historic 2015 Paris Agreement — is now ready. After climate activists raised several concerns with the draft Paris rulebook text released by the Polish Presidency (host of climate negotiations — COP24) on Friday evening and countries disagreed on several key issues till late on Friday night, Poland extended the talks for a day and came out with another draft text on Saturday evening.

The new document, which runs into 156 pages, is marginally stronger than the previous draft and has managed to incorporate some crucial issues related to ‘loss and damage,’ ‘climate finance’ and ‘differentiation.’ But most vulnerable countries — the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), least developed countries (LDCs) and civil society organisations said the text could have been much more ambitious and factored in the urgency of climate change effectively.

There are some bright spots in the text, though. It talks about setting a new collective finance goal post 2020, higher than the current goal of 100 billion USD per year. The text also urges developed country parties to channel more grant based resources for adaptation to climate change as against loans.

“Each interested Party may provide, as appropriate, information related to enhancing understanding, action and support, on a cooperative and facilitative basis, to avert, minimize and address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts,” the text states.

There is also some smart wording introduced in the new draft which says it “welcomes the timely completion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5 degree C” but doesn’t state that the findings of the report is welcomed. This is a blow for the AOSIS and LDCs who had requested for the report and will be worst affected by 1.5 degree warming of pre-industrial levels.

Experts said the text says developed countries are expected to voluntarily inform the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and developing nations about the finance that will come in for adaptation which is a weak link. They are also not expected to share how much of the finance will be in grants or in loans. The text only urges developed countries to channel the substantial part of funds through grant based funding.

Civil society organisations were expecting ‘loss and damage’ to be incorporated in most of the text which didn’t happen.

“Our governments have failed us. Some of the most powerful countries in the world are led by reactionary climate deniers... Rich countries have a moral and a legal responsibility... Instead of taking this seriously, they pushed through a rulebook riddled with loopholes allowing them to avoid this responsibility,” said Harjeet Singh, global lead on climate change for Action Aid International. He added that “You have to understand that with the current agreement we are set for 3 degree warming.”

Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said “There are differences on a range of issues still. LDCs have put their foot down on finance and loss and damage. So ministers are working on breaking deadlock. We will have a clearer picture on Sunday.”

NH Ravindranath, climate scientist from the Indian Institute of Science (IISC) who has authored several IPCC reports, said, “IPCC’s findings are based on science. Extreme climate change is a fact. The governments have to recognise the findings, and reduce global emissions by 45% by 2030. This is the biggest challenge which is not acceptable by petroleum exporting countries and coal based economies...”

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