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Key elements of Katowice Climate Package

The UNFCCC on Monday, February 18, 2019 published an overview of the Katowice Climate Package, adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference COP24 in Katowice, Poland last December. The package constitutes the guidelines for the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The guidelines establish an effective international system for promoting and tracking progress while empowering countries to build national systems for implementing the agreement.

The overview also explores key elements of the Katowice Climate Package, which are discussed in this piece

Katowice COP24
A delegate stands in the main meeting hall of COP24 in Katowice, Poland

Limiting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions

The Paris Agreement sets the long-term goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C. Achieving this global aim will require each country to act.

Reflecting its “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities,” each government can update or submit its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), which describe its climate goals and activities, in particular those relating to mitigation.

Each NDC will be updated every five years and should demonstrate increased ambition over the previous one. The Katowice package provides detailed guidance on how NDCs are to be presented.

This guidance is to be applied to the second NDC to be submitted by 2025. If a country voluntarily chooses to do so, it may also apply these to its first NDC. Many first NDCs have already been submitted although governments agreed to officially do so by 2020.  The agreed guidance describes the contents of and approach to the mitigation goals and activities, thus ensuring comparability from NDC to NDC.

The guidelines also address mitigation co-benefits (for example, resulting from economic diversification), the provision of capacity-building support to developing countries for producing their NDCs, the use by all Parties of a common timeframe for communicating NDCs as from 2025 and the negative impacts of response measures on certain countries and sectors.

Importantly, the guidance also includes the modalities for the operation and use of a public NDC registry, for which the secretariat is developing a prototype for the Parties’ consideration. The prototype will be based on a current interim NDC registry. It will be made available together with the new Adaptation Communications registry through one portal with two parts.

These guidelines will be reviewed and if necessary updated during the next decade.

Adapting to climate impacts

In addition to mitigation, the implementation guidelines provide clarity about how to track efforts to enhance national capacities for adapting to climate change impacts.

This is essential because, even if all greenhouse gas emissions were to completely stop tomorrow, the climate will continue to change due to past emissions. The less the world succeeds in reducing future emissions, the more work it will need to do to adapt to impacts and the more critical the situation will be for the most vulnerable.

Addressing loss and damage

A growing number of countries are already suffering significant loss and damage from climate impacts, and this damage is expected to worsen. Parties to the Paris Agreement will use the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage to assist the most vulnerable countries to cope with these consequences.

Under the new implementation guidelines, the most vulnerable countries can report about the climate-related damages and losses they have suffered through the section on impacts and adaptation in the Transparency Framework.

Actions to address these challenges, projections of future losses and damages, and information on what kind of support is needed can also be included.

All this information will be assessed every five years when Parties conduct the Global Stocktake of progress towards implementing the Paris Agreement

Financing action in developing countries

The Paris Agreement recognises that developed countries should continue to take the lead in mobilising finance to support climate action by developing countries. The Katowice Climate Package provides some important details on climate finance going forward.

  • Confirmation of climate finance mobilisation

Developed countries have pledged to mobilise $100 billion per year by 2020, and through to 2025, for both adaptation and mitigation actions in developing countries. At COP24, a small handful of developed countries stepped up with pledges towards this goal.

Many developing countries need support to contribute climate actions towards the global effort. Moreover, reaching the $100 billion goal is also essential for confidence-building among countries and a greater effort towards it is essential. 

  • Importance of the roles of the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility in supporting developing countries.

Katowice stressed the urgency for pledges to replenish the Green Climate Fund in 2019, as well the role of the Green Environment Facility. This is particularly important in relation to the Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency.

Climate finance that serves the Paris Agreement post-2020 

  • Arrangements for providing predictability and clarity on climate finance

To enhance predictability and clarity of climate finance, developed countries will submit biennial communications on expected levels of climate finance. These will contain both quantitative and qualitative information.

The submission of these communications will begin in 2020. Other Parties that wish to provide resources can communicate such information biennially and on a voluntary basis.

The secretariat will post these communications on a dedicated on-line portal.

Starting in 2021, the secretariat will prepare a compilation and synthesis report on what has been communicated, which will inform the Global Stocktake.

A high-level ministerial dialogue on climate finance will be convened every two years.

Like the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Fund, Adaptation Fund will support developing countries and serve the Paris Agreement. 

  • Financial goal beyond 2025

The setting of a new collective quantified goal from the floor of USD 100 billion per year will be initiated at the COP in 2020. 

  • Determining needs

The COP decided that the Standing Committee on Finance will from 2020 report on the determination of support needs of developing countries related to the implementation of the Convention and the Paris Agreement. 

  • Making mainstream finance flows consistent with the Paris Agreement.

To ensure that low-emissions and sustainable development pathways become the new norm, financial flows must be consistent with low emissions and climate resilient development.

As a result, the COP decided that the Standing Committee include this important aspect as part of its biennial assessment and overview of climate finance flows starting from 2020. This work will feed to Global Stocktake.

Developing and transferring technology

Many countries need greater access to green technologies for reducing emissions and strengthening resilience. Clean-energy and other climate-friendly technologies are essential for slowing, stopping and then reversing climate change.

The Technology Mechanism established under the Climate Change Convention will play an important role in promoting and facilitating enhanced action on technology development and transfer. This is essential to help countries to address the transformational changes towards climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, as envisioned in the Paris Agreement

In addition, the Technology Framework (established under the Paris Agreement) will provide an overarching guidance to the Technology Mechanism to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The framework contains five focus areas including innovation, implementation, enabling environments and support, with the active engagement of relevant stakeholders and closer collaboration between the public and private sectors.

The implementation guidelines also establish a process for assessing progress on the development and transfer of technology.

The scope and modalities for the periodic assessment was agreed to assess the effectiveness and adequacy of the support provided to the Technology Mechanism as it serves the Paris Agreement. It will also inform the Global Stocktake. The first assessment will be initiated in late 2021.

Building capacity in developing countries

Beyond finance and technology, there is also a strong need to build the capacity of least developed and other countries to implement all aspects of the Paris Agreement. A wide range of funds and institutions is supporting capacity-building under the Agreement.

Katowice acted to strengthen the institutional support for capacity building. It launched a review of the Paris Committee on Capacity Building and invited Parties and observers to submit their views. A decision is to be adopted at COP 25.

Building trust through transparency

The Paris Agreement establishes an Enhanced Transparency Framework designed to build trust and confidence that all countries are contributing their share to the global effort.

The Katowice conference fleshed out this Framework that is applicable to all countries by adopting a detailed set of procedures and guidelines that make it operational.

These guidelines define the reporting information to be provided, the technical expert review, transitional arrangements, and a “facilitative multilateral consideration of progress.”

The conference requested the Global Environment Facility to support developing country Parties in preparing their first and subsequent biennial transparency reports.

Through the detailed guidance on the reporting/review/consideration processes for the information to be submitted and by making these reports publicly available, the Enhanced Transparency Framework will make it possible to track the progress made by each country.

Tracking progress will be done by using the most recent methodologies as contained in guidelines by the IPCC. In this way, it will be possible to compare a country’s actions against its plans and ambitions as described in its NDC.

To ensure that this exercise is as robust and accurate as possible, the Parties will now develop common reporting tables for national GHG inventories, common tabular format tables for tracking progress towards NDCs and climate finance, outlines of the biennial transparency reports, and other essential components.

Facilitating implementation

To facilitate the implementation of the Paris Agreement, as well as compliance with its provisions, countries established a committee for this purpose.

The committee is non-punitive and will initiate a so-called ‘consideration’ in cases where a country has not provided mandatory reports on its actions or forwarded or maintained its NDC.

The committee will consult and constructively engage Parties and aim to facilitate greater compliance through recommendations and assistance. It will consist of six members and six alternative members serving for a term of three years.

Evaluating global progress

To measure the world’s collective progress towards achieving the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement, governments will conduct a Global Stocktake in 2023 and every five years thereafter.

Using the best-available science, the Stocktake will consider all aspects of the Agreement. Thematic areas will include mitigation, adaptation, financial flows, equity and means of implementation and support.

The implementation guidelines define the process of organizing and conducting the Global Stocktake more rigorously. While no one Party may be singled out, the Global Stocktake will consider information towards the agreement’s goals at a collective level. This information will include reporting under the Enhanced Transparency Framework, as well as other sources.

As remarked above, countries can also include information on loss and damage and related response measures. Inputs to the Stocktake will come not only from countries but from stakeholders, organizations and other sources.

Parties will employ a facilitated technical dialogue, a series of high-level events and other measures to advance the process and strengthen its usefulness over time.

2019 and beyond

While Katowice succeeded in finalising the great bulk of the implementation guidelines, there are still a few outstanding issues.

Guidance on voluntary cooperation and market-based mechanisms still needs to be finalized, and there will be follow-up on a few technical details, such as the development of various reporting tables and specific technical work by various constituted bodies.

These remaining items will need proper attention throughout the year, with a few specific outcomes expected to be ready by COP25 in Santiago de Chile. 

With the Paris Agreement and its implementation guidelines in place, there is an urgent need for more action on the ground, now, today.

Then, with countries submitting their new or updated first NDCs in 2020, governments should be mindful to ensure that these NDCs will reflect the highest ambition. 2019 must not go to waste:  there is no reason to delay action while the world – informed by science – is transitioning into the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.

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