The UN climate change talks ended late on Saturday night in Poland with a deal agreed on how to put the 2015 Paris agreement into action, but with other contentious problems left to be resolved next year.
Countries thrashed out the complex details of how to account for and record their greenhouse gas emissions, which will form the basis of a “rulebook” on putting the Paris goals into action. But difficult questions such as how to scale up existing commitments on cutting emissions, in line with stark scientific advice, and how to provide finance for poor countries to do the same, were put off for future years.In the final hours, agreement was held up by a debate over the market in carbon credits, awarded to countries for their emissions-cutting efforts and for their carbon sinks, such as forests, which absorb carbon dioxide
Brazil has been a reliable supporter of the annual talks in the past, and has worked to broker deals between the developed and developing world. Without that support in future, the talks are only likely to grow more fractious.
Even when Brazil’s carbon-credits issue was postponed, a further obstacle was opened up by Turkey, which wants to be counted as a developing country rather than a developed one. Weary delegates finally filed into the closing session at nearly 10pm to hail the compromise agreement.
Despite these hitches, the two-week conference – the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP24 – finally ended in clarity, at least on some of the key building blocks for putting the Paris agreement into action.
David Waskow, of the World Resources Institute, said the final deal was “a good foundation for countries to go about implementing the Paris agreement”. He added: “It sets the direction of travel and will spur countries to take action. Now countries need to go home and do their homework, by increasing their commitments [on emissions].”