Strong rules for Paris deal can spur global climate action

(Climate Change News, 20 Nov 2018) Comment: If talks in Poland produce tough rules, it will build confidence that all countries are sticking to the climate bargain.

Two major objectives for the upcoming UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland, are strengthening climate ambition and adopting the Paris “rulebook”. What is too often overlooked is the intimate connection between the two.

The most obvious measure of climate ambition is the level of effort in countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. It’s well understood that the first set of NDCs offered in Paris falls well short of the pathway needed to limit warming to 2C, let alone 1.5C.

The implicit aim of the Talanoa Dialogue culminating in Katowice is to inspire and cajole countries to deliver stronger NDCs when the next set is due in 2020. Many delegations and advocates are working hard to ensure that the Talanoa’s concluding decision sets the right expectations by taking the recent grave findings by UN scientists fully on board and calling unequivocally for more rapid pollution cuts.

Alongside this largely political exercise is a far more involved negotiation over the nuts and bolts of the Paris Agreement.  Three years in the making, the Paris rulebook will encompass a raft of decisions outlining operational details in areas including transparency, accounting, implementation and stocktaking progress.

To anyone who’s spent time in the negotiating rooms, the grinding rulebook talks can seem to alternate between impenetrable debates over technical arcana and contentious standoffs over political issues many thought were settled in Paris. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that the rulebook isn’t just about rules – it too, ultimately, is about ambition.

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Climate Change News, 20 Nov 2018: Strong rules for Paris deal can spur global climate action