As the first week of negotiations at the climate change conference drew to a close, most of the contentious issues, including those related climate finance, had remained unresolved and left to be tackled at the ministerial segment starting on Monday.
Negotiators worked through late into the night on Friday and through the first half of the day on Saturday to produce draft agreement texts on all the subjects under discussion. The most contentious issues, like finance, increasing of ambition of climate action, and transparency of action, as also several others have been left for the ministers to take the final call on.
“Some progress has been made. Whatever we could decide on, we have decided. There are close to 90 decisions to be taken. But the important ones have been unresolved. You can expect some fights to happen on these in the ministerial segment. That is where the give and take will also happen. As you know, there is nothing unusual in taking issues to the second week,” a developing country negotiator said.
At the Katowice meeting, countries are trying to finalise the rulebook, containing the processes and guidelines, for the implementation of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, that seeks to keep the global average temperatures from rising above 2 degree Celsius from the pre-industrial times. As a result, the issues under discussion are mainly procedural in nature, but vital for preserving the effectiveness of the Agreement.
Meanwhile, having asked the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for a special report on the feasibility of restricting the rise in global temperature to within 1.5 degree Celsius from pre-industrial times, and having got that report last month, the Katowice conference is debating what to do with it.
The special 1.5 degree report, which has been making global news ever since it was released last month, needs to be acknowledged and mentioned in the decisions that will be taken at the end of the conference next week, since the request for the report had also come in this form. But there are serious differences within the countries in the manner that this report is mentioned. A number of countries, including some in the developing world, do not want a very prominent mention of the report, uncomfortable as they are with the idea of mainstreaming the 1.5 degree target, which might get translated into calls for more urgent and wider action on climate change from all countries.
Though a relatively smaller issue, the discussion on 1.5 degree report has kept the negotiators of several countries engaged.
The IPCC report said it was still possible for the world to attain the 1.5 degree target, but it required much greater action within the next few years itself. It said global emissions needed to be brought to half the levels of 2010 by the year 2030, and to net zero by the year 2050 in order to attain that goal. As of now, the world is only trying to prevent a temperature rise beyond 2 degree Celsius, for which it is aiming to reduce its emission levels by 20 per cent, from 2010 levels, by the year 2030, and achieve a net-zero emission level by the year 2075.
The report has been extensively discussed at the Katowice meetings, with IPCC briefing the negotiators on the different aspects several times. As a result, the IPCC has had a much greater involvement in this year’s conference as compared to previous years.
And yet, some countries want the matter to end with just an acknowledgement of the report in the final outcomes of this conference, while some others are in favour of showing intention to act on the report.
“It is important to provide proper space to IPCC report (on 1.5 degree) during this conference… It is important that the discussion on the IPCC report is properly accounted for,” the conference president Michal Kurtyka said.
Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said the 1.5 degree report had been very well received globally, and therefore, she hoped that it will get the importance that it deseverd.
“I certainly hope that we will be able to have the willingness (and) agreement in welcoming and highlighting the importance of this report. What I have realised in my travels across the world is that the IPCC 1.5 report has made and incredible impact on the people. One very important contribution of this report has been that it has put the focus firmly on the 1.5 degree goal,” Espinosa said.