Jessica’s report after the first week at COP24
It’s been an incredibly busy week of tedious negotiations, energizing side events and impactful demonstrations at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report this year showing the significant adverse effects of reaching an overall warming of 1.5 vs. 2 degrees. Their message was clear: We need to take immediate action to curb the effects of climate change for the sake of our planet and all those who live on it (Check out this WWF infographic for a simple overview or read the IPCC report summary for Policymakers).
The first week of COP24 was the technical phase. Parties have been negotiating the text for a rule book which will determine how the Paris Agreement is implemented. Topics include Loss and Damage (how poorer countries are compensated for the effects of climate change), Adaptation, Mitigation, Finance and more. They have also been negotiating other texts surrounding the operation of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform and the Gender Action Plan.
There is so much happening that it’s impossible to follow everything but here are a few of the challenges and successes of the past week:
- Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the USA and Russia are refusing to acknowledge the importance of the IPCC report on 1.5 degrees warming. There have been questions of its validity and importance in future discussions. This is hugely disappointing. The IPCC report is one of the most important contributions to current climate change negotiations. It was put together by top scientists from around the world using 6000 studies in 41 countries. Ignoring it is catastrophic, short sighted and shows a complete disregard for our climate’s current state and the people who are being most affected by climate change.
- The rulebook is currently full of text in brackets, meaning it is text that has not been agreed upon by all parties. All mention of loss and damage is in brackets as developed countries are trying to avoid having to pay compensation for their past carbon emissions. Acknowledgement of human rights including gender rights are also in brackets. Parties are also deciding whether the text should read “shall” or “should”. While a Paris rulebook might be produced at this COP it is more important that it is not just a rulebook, but a robust rulebook that compensates vulnerable countries and respects human rights. All of these points will be discussed during the Ministerial portion of COP24 this week.
- After long negotiations, the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP) was adopted! This platform will create a space for local community and Indigenous representatives to have their voices heard in the UNFCCC. We know that putting Indigenous voices in leadership roles when developing climate policy is vital to solving the climate crisis. This is a huge step forward for Indigenous Rights and climate justice.
- Minister McKenna announced last week that Canada will be “ready to set tougher emissions-cutting plans when the Paris climate-change agreement kicks in by the end of 2020”. This is great news! We’ll be monitoring to see exactly what this looks like.
Amid all this, what is preventing me from feeling overwhelmed by the work to be done are the people I’ve met from all around the world who are on the forefront of this climate fight. Yeb Saño who walked from Rome to Katowice as a climate pilgrim (Watch his powerful address at the UNFCCC in 2003). Greta, the 15 year old from Sweden who is demanding her government take climate action. Georgine, my fellow KAIROS representative, who has shared stories with me of women standing up to mining and coal projects across Africa.
The youth from all around the world who are having their voices heard —”What do we want? Climate Justice. When do we want it? Now! ” As Gretta said in her speech to the UNFCCC last week: “Change is coming whether [world leaders] like it or not”.