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COP24 Brings Greatest Test of Countries’ Commitment to the Paris Agreement Yet


On the heels of several international reports outlining the mounting impacts and costs of climate change, negotiators at this week’s UN climate talks need to finalize the rules governing how the Paris Agreement will operate going forward and ensure countries deliver a strong commitment to increase their own climate targets before 2020.

The troubling gap between current efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and what is needed to prevent catastrophic climate change is laid bare in three recent reports: the 2018 Emissions Gap Report, the United States’ 4th National Climate Assessment, and the landmark special report on 1.5°C of global warming.

“In many ways things are getting worse and worse, and better and better, faster and faster,” said Lou Leonard, World Wildlife Fund’s senior vice president for climate change and energy. “The world’s best scientists, and nature itself, are sounding the alarm. Changes are happening sooner and faster than we expected. At the same time, the private sector and regional governments are waking up to their responsibility to lead on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. They are creating momentum and unveiling a new formula for success in ramping up global ambition.”

As the recent Emissions Gap report states, countries must sharply raise the ambition of their national climate targets by 2020 or the 1.5°C goal under the Paris Agreement will slip out of reach. “Increasing ambition at this scale is only possible if the private sector, regional and national governments work collaboratively to develop a new set of national climate targets before 2020,” said Leonard.

“Countries left ambition on the table when they set their first climate pledges in 2015. Current national climate targets largely ignored or understated the contributions of those driving regional economies, like companies and local governments,” said Leonard. “That can change for the revised targets because these players are now fully bought into the process. Moreover, a growing wave of businesses and cities have made new, science-based commitments since 2015, including at the Global Climate Action Summit in September of this year.”

WWF is bringing leaders from new climate coalitions in Japan, Mexico, Argentina and the United States to the talks to bridge new alliances, push for stronger pre-2020 action, and to meet with national governments to advocate for strong rules to operationalize the Paris agreement. Private sector representatives in the We Are Still In coalition cite a strong transparency regime, clear and consistent approaches for setting national climate targets, and clarity around market mechanisms as key elements up for debate at these talks which are critical to their business operations.

US efforts to reduce emissions will be on display in the US Climate Action Center -- located in Pavilion E and livestreamed -- December 7-10. The Center will host mayors, businesses, Congressional staff, and other climate leaders from the We Are Still In coalition and convene discussion on topics including the implications of the US midterm elections, the benefits a strong Paris regime for the private sector, and the role of natural climate solutions.

WWF believes a clear set of outcomes are needed in Poland to ensure the continued momentum for climate action, called the “Katowice Package”. These include:

  • Urgently scaled up climate action both before and after 2020 accompanied by financial and other support for developing countries;
  • Finalize and adopt a comprehensive set of rules (“Paris Rulebook”) to guide the implementation of the Paris Agreement. These must enhance the transparency of all countries’ actions to address climate change, lead to greater accountability and ambition of countries’ individual climate plans, and clarify the roles of market mechanisms;
  • A renewed recognition of the gap between current action and the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement, and a recognition of actions that can close the gap, including better integration of nature-based climate solutions; and finally,
  • A commitment from Parties to update and resubmit improved national climate plans (or nationally determined contributions or NDCs) by 2020.

Positive momentum heading into the talks was boosted by Germany’s pledge of €1.5 billion towards replenishment of the Green Climate Fund, which should help reassure especially the poorest and most vulnerable developing countries that international financial support is available for their climate actions.

Notes to Editors:

  1. See WWF’s COP24 Expectations Paper here
  2. Visit WWF’s COP24 website here for daily updates, news, announcements.
  3. Visit WWF’s pavilion at COP24 #pandahub. The full program is here.
  4. WWF has experts from over 30 countries represented at COP24. To arrange for interviews, contact: Melanie Gade + 1 (303) 881 – 9877
  5. The 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the UNFCCC will take place from 2-14 December 2018, in Katowice, Poland.

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