Progress and problems as UN climate change talks end with a deal

(The Guardian, 15 Dec 2018) Nations agree on implementing 2015 Paris agreement, but put trickiest issues on back burner.

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 wanted an amendment that would benefit the country for its large rainforest cover, but this was opposed by others as it could allow the double-counting of carbon credits, undermining the integrity of the system.

This question has now been pushed back to next year’s annual conference. Brazil’s stance, however, under incoming president Jair Bolsonaro, who also rescinded the country’s offer to host next year’s talks, presages troubles to come.

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.

External link

The Guardian, 15 Dec 2018: Progress and problems as UN climate change talks end with a deal