Reflections from COP24

Published Feb 25, 2019

The 24th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP24) took place in Katowice, Poland, 2 to 15 December 2018. The focus of the agenda was the implementation of the Paris Agreement

 The parties to the UNFCCC got together for the 24th time in the city of Katowice in Poland. At various panel meetings, IPCC, GEF and PIK (Potsdam Institute), among others, highlighted the importance of Science, Policy and Business for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Certainly, science provides strong motivation for dealing with climate change, but implementation requires more.Changing the logic of business is necessary for building a sustainable society. Yet, investments in sustainable business are still challenging. Therefore, it is important to continue developing new business models. Likewise, incentives are still needed to disseminate low-carbon solutions.

The Nordic Pavilion

The Nordic Pavilion emphasized sustainable industrial initiatives and solutions. Among other instruments, the carbon tax was highlighted as an effective instrument to promote low-carbon technologies. The Japanese Pavilion explored technology for smart cities, as well as sustainable solutions and development of new materials. In the Brazilian Pavilion, Elizabeth Farina, one of the most important leaders of the sugar-ethanol industry, presented the Brazilian National Biofuels Policy, RenovaBio, aimed at increasing the share of bioenergy in the Brazilian energy matrix. The program is an important instrument for Brazil to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement. It is positive that countries are acting and developing new initiatives to promote low-carbon solutions. Sharing successful experiences is important to speed up the implementation process.

A French partnership brought an initiative that drew significant attention. Climate projections for the next thirty years were used to explore the types of wine likely to be produced under new climate conditions, that is, with temperatures 2o to 4o C higher. The Project Bordeaux 2050 is an attempt to influence skeptical journalists, glimpsing a future scenario in which Bordeaux wine, a French legacy, will taste quite different in 2050.

Remigijus Lapinskas, Evandro Gussi and Elizabeth Farina at the Brazilian Pavilion

While the idea of the initiative was to mobilize new groups around the climate problem, it also attracted criticism. Some groups are strongly engaged in the debate on climate justice. For some developing countries, the wine problem is a luxury problem at a time when the eradication of whole countries are at stake.

The COP meetings attract an increasing number of participants. COP24 received as many as 23,000 participants! Although it is important to keep the process open, the carbon footprints of so many participants, particularly in the form of flights to and from the meeting, are a cause of increasing concern. In the future, it will be important to find new ways to meet, for example, with more online sessions. Certainly, this would allow for even larger numbers of participants around the whole world. Larger use of online books and bulletins would reduce the amount of printed material that is normally distributed in the COP meetings. The question remains as to what the best way is to influence the course of actions.

Laura Tuck at the French Pavilion

At the end, the most important outcome of COP24 was that the parties agreed on a plan for the implementation of the Paris Agreement (2015), “le plus beau traité social” according to Laura Tuck, the World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development.

Rules for reporting carbon-emissions and following up the parties’ contributions were defined to a certain extent. However, the key question about new commitments remains open. Present commitments will lead us to a future with temperature increases between 3o to 4o degrees, thus double as high as the 1.5o to 2o stated in the Paris Agreement.

By Cecilia Higa, PhD Candidate at University of Campinas and ECS, who represented KTH at COP24.

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Last changed: Feb 25, 2019