The UN's annual climate talks are December 3–14 in the southern Polish city of Katowice, in the country’s coal heartland. The stakes are high, but — as always — it won’t be plain sailing.
The two-week meeting is another pivotal moment in the global climate negotiations and the successful implementation of the Paris Agreement. Countries are expected to finalise the accord’s rulebook and start the process of a global stocktake to ramp up ambition to reduce emissions.
The talks are taking place against a backdrop of mounting urgency and expectations following a report from the UNIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which warned that the world has 12 years to halve its carbon dioxide emissionsif it is to keep warming to 1.5 degrees and avoid catastrophic climate change.
While expectations are high for countries to agree on a robust set of rules to implement the Paris Agreement, the global political context is once again testing the resilience of the UN process.
Image credit: UNFCCC/Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Following two tension-filled weeks at the UN climate talks in Poland, countries finally agreed on the operating manual to implement the Paris Agreement. While this rulebook is essential to kick-start the agreement in 2020, campaigners and scientists have warned of a stark disconnect between the urgency to prevent climate breakdown and the failed opportunity for radical action.
The rulebook covers a wide range of issues such as how countries should report their greenhouse gas emission reductions and who should pay what to help developing countries leapfrog fossil fuels and develop sustainably.
Given the elections of climate deniers Donald Trump in the US and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and strong obstruction from powerful oil and gas exporting countries such as the US and Saudi Arabia, the talks started in Katowice with low expectations.
For most of us, the UN climate talks — or COP24 — are drawing to a close and home is in sight.
That’s probably not the case for hundreds of negotiators who still have a lot to sort out before they can agree on the rules to implement the Paris Agreement, and are likely to work through the night and possibly beyond to do so.
I spent two weeks running around the long corridors of the climate conference in Katowice, Poland, striving to make sense of what this was all about.
The annual UN climate talks in Katowice, Poland, are drawing to a close. But over the conference’s two weeks, major polluters have been given the platform to promote a climate-friendly image at more than 30 events, new analysis by NGO Climate Tracker reveals.
Negotiators are in the coal mining town of Katowice, Poland, to try and establish a rulebook to guide countries’ implementation of the landmark Paris climate change agreement. Around 22,000 delegates are present at the conference, known as COP24.
Companies have taken advantage of having so many climate specialists in one place to promote their climate-friendly activities, even if their business model remains reliant on polluting practices.
Energy minister Claire Perry apologised to international observers after being repeatedly interrupted by four climate protesters during an event in which she announced the UK had formally requested to host the climate talks in 2020.
Speaking during a side event at this year’s climate summit in Katowice, Perry was forced to stop speaking after activists openly challenged her over the UK’s fracking policy.
JSW, the coal company sponsoring the UN climate negotiations in Poland, has a plan to revive the coal industry: rename coal.
Daniel Ozon, CEO of JSW, believes that coking coal has been tainted by association with thermal coal, and that investors are backing away as a result.
But he thinks a “fancy new name” for coking coal could help.
Should fossil fuel companies that knew their products contributed to climate change for nearly 40 years and did nothing about it now be allowed to have their say inside the UN climate talks?
For the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), a business lobby comprised of some of the world’s largest fossil fuel producers and greenhouse gas emitters such as BP, Chevron, Rio Tinto, Eni, Total and Shell, the answer is yes.
“Fundamentally,” the IETA writes, “we believe that our businesses should be part of the climate negotiations — because we intend to be part of the solution”.
Activists interrupted a keynote address by a gas industry lobbyist to demand the European Union do more to prove itself as a climate leader, and stem the flow of gas across the continent.
Around 30 activists conducted a “symbolic walk out” during a talk by Marco Alvera, president of lobby group GasNaturally. The campaigners rose from their seats as Alvera declared that the industry “fully supports the Paris Agreement” and said there was an opportunity for the gas industry to “capitalise” as other fossil fuels are phased out.
Dozens of delegates from four countries that forced the UN climate negotiations to weaken language around the acceptance of a major climate science report have ties to the oil, gas and mining industries.
At least 35 delegates from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Russia and the US are either currently employed or used to work for companies and organisations involved in the petrochemical and mining industries or lobbying on behalf of those industries.
On Saturday, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “noted” the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark 1.5 degrees report at the annual talks in Katowice, Poland. Poor and undeveloped countries, small island states, Europeans and many others called to change the wording to “welcome” the study, Climate Home reported.
What do Adidas, Hilton hotels, and the World Surfing League all have in common?
They’re all climate champions, apparently.
They also have a lot of customers and fans. Much more than most climate activists - just take a look at their Twitter followings - which could explain why this year’s annual UN climate talks welcomed them with open arms.
But are the industries serious about addressing the problem, or are they simply following a greenwash playbook rolled out by the fossil fuel industry each year at the talks?
Campaigners disrupted a US event promoting “greener and cleaner” fossil fuel energy at the UN climate talks, calling it “a farce” that had no place within the global climate negotiations process.
Minutes after the start of the event on the fringe of the climate conference in Katowice, Poland, dozens of youth activists, indigenous campaigners, and community leaders burst out laughing and stood up in front of the panel chanting “keep it in the ground”.
A large banner with the message “keep it in the ground” was deployed in a way to hide the panel from the audience.