What is COP 24?

COP 24 is the informal name for the 24th conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

UNFCCC is one of the three conventions adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. It entered into force in March 1994 and has near universal membership today. All the countries which have ratified the convention, with the aim to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, are parties to the convention. The Conference of Parties (COP) is the supreme body of UNFCCC which holds a session every year. The COP takes decisions which are necessary to ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of the Convention and regularly reviews the implementation of these provisions.

COP 24 took place from 2- 15 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland and is also known as Katowice Climate Change Conference. About 20 thousand people from 190 countries will take part in the event, including politicians, representatives of non-governmental organizations, scientific community and business sector.

Highlights of COP 24

After long and difficult negotiations the member countries agreed on a set of guidelines for implementing the Landmark 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. The agreed guidelines are also known as “Katowice Climate package”.

It is a major step forward for operationalizing the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015. The Katowice package includes guidelines that will operationalize the transparency framework. Major outcomes of the COP 24 include:

  • It sets out how countries will provide information about their Nationally Determined Contributions—the plans developed by each country that describes their domestic climate actions. This information includes mitigation and adaptation measures as well as details of financial support for climate action in developing countries.
  • The process for establishing new targets on finance from 2025 onwards to follow-on from the current target of mobilizing US $100 billion per year from 2020 to support developing countries
  • How to conduct the Global Stock take of the effectiveness of climate action in 2023
  • How to assess progress on the development and transfer of technology

In report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global body of the world’s leading climate scientists, warned that allowing warming to reach 1.5C above pre-industrial levels would have grave consequences, including the die-off of coral reefs and devastation of many species. The report suggests that the world has little more than a decade to bring emissions under control and halve them, which would help stabilise the climate. Countries like USA, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait refused to welcome the IPCC report.

COP 24 in Katowice, Poland word cloud

To achieve the goals set in Paris Agreement, the world would have to stop using Coal and Oil for energy and adopt cleaner energy options at an accelerated rate. Clean energy is coming on-stream at a faster rate than many predicted, and the costs of it have come down rapidly, but its adoption needs to be speeded up further to meet the deadline suggested by IPCC report.

Some key issues which could not be agreed upon included how countries will step up their targets on cutting emissions. On current targets, the world is set for 3C of warming from pre-industrial levels, which scientists say would be disastrous, resulting in droughts, floods, sea level rises and the decline of agricultural productivity.
Moving forward, the UN will meet again next year in Chile to thrash out the final elements of the Paris rulebook and begin work on future emissions targets. But the crunch conference will come in 2020, when countries must meet the deadline for their current emissions commitments and produce new targets for 2030 and beyond that go further towards meeting scientific advice.