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The crisis staring at the COP24


Participants attend the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, Dec. 3, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

The beautiful Polish city of Katowice is gearing up to host the crucial annual UN climate negotiations this week. All eyes are on the key conference as it may finally yield a consensus on the rules for implementing the much debated 2015 Paris Agreement. With Europe being entangled with Brexit and other immediate challenges and the United States in the process of signing out of the 2015 Agreement, China and India are being touted to play a vital role in shaping the narratives at Katowice.

The 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is vital for many reasons. First, after the climate negotiation was signed in Paris in 2015, member countries have been struggling to complete the much talked about "rulebook" of guidelines, procedures and rules required to make this ambitious agreement a reality. In that sense, Katowice offer an opportunity to iron out differences among 196 countries and find a mutually agreeable "working regime" to provide a fresh dose of life to the climate deal.

Second, it must be mentioned that the Paris Agreement had unveiled a process where the member countries have to come out with their climate action strategies once every five years. Thus, at COP24, countries have to present clearly their national climate goals or NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) by 2020, which is not far away.

Third, fighting climate threatening challenges, especially taking adaptive measures, requires massive financial resources. The proposed Green Climate Fund (GCF) mechanism to raise finances, particularly to support developing and vulnerable countries, is still a nonstarter. The promise made by developed countries to infuse substantial amounts of finance are yet to make serious traction. With the richest country, the United States, opting out of the Agreement, there is huge uncertainty on this critical dimension.

During the Copenhagen Climate meeting in 2009 (COP15), developed nations made commitments to infusing US$100 billion every year from 2020. Further, as per Article 9 of the Paris Agreement, the developed bloc is supposed to share qualitative and quantitative information on climate finance every two years. However, the U.S., the European Union and other developed countries are showing no urgency on this critical aspect of climate commitment. For developing nations, paucity of funds is a major roadblock to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and climate adaptive initiatives.

Opportunity for India and China

Given the global uncertainty and lukewarm response from the developed bloc despite the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report making a dire warning on global temperature rises, developing countries, particularly China and India, have to take the moral and financial lead on this.

Apart from shouldering more responsibilities, China and India have a rare opportunity to build a working relationship with other key actors from the developing bloc such as the Like-Minded Developing Countries, the Arab Group and the African Group of Negotiators to build up pressure on developed nations to get the deal going.


Aerial photo taken on May 10, 2017 shows solar panels on roofs in Cixi, east China's Zhejiang province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Both countries have put up ambitious climate action strategies and in recent years have shown clear commitments to meet these goals. For instance, not only has China been able to fulfill its carbon intensity three years earlier than the given time line, the country has made a huge breakthrough in its energy transition by taking its clean energy investment to a new high of US$132 billion last year. While India has taken the lead in building up the International Solar Alliance and initiating practical measures to implement ambitious renewable targets (a record 175 gigawatts) by 2022. Recognizing India's commitment, the United Nations recently awarded Prime Minister Narendra Modi the Champions of the Earth Award for 2018.

To conclude, from the initial discussions, it is very clear that China and India would like the rule book to clearly lay down equity and the principle of CBDR (Common but Differentiated Responsibilities) in the stocktaking mechanisms. It needs to be mentioned here that the developed bloc have been relentlessly fighting to keep the "equity" issue out of the stocktaking. Equity is critical for the developing countries that have been fighting for last two decades. Second, the developing nations have to pay attention to the "strong lobby" that is tirelessly working to meet the mitigation goals only. There is a genuine fear that the Talanoa Dialogue at the Katowice summit might end by forcing all countries to notch up their mitigation targets.  Editor:Lucky

(Source_title:The crisis staring at the COP24)