UN chief to nudge climate negotiators for Paris rulebook

Vishal Gulati   |  Katowice (Poland)


As the crucial multilateral climate negotiations by 197 nations draw closer to finale with the possibility of "weak" outcomes, UN chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday flew back here in an attempt to convince participating countries for evolving a consensus on the Paris rulebook.

While Guterres will have no direct role in the negotiations, his presence was expected to help nudge the talks towards a positive conclusion, say negotiators.

"Returning to Katowice, I see that despite some progress in the negotiating texts much remains to be done," he said in his address at the closing of the high-level segment of the Talanoa Dialogue.

The Talanoa Dialogue was mandated by the parties to the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) to take stock of the collective global efforts to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, in line with the goals of the Paris agreement.

Calling for the political will to move forward, Guterres said: "Failing here would send a disastrous message to those who stand ready to shift to a green economy."

A day earlier, amid the presence of 100 ministers in Katowice to provide political guidance, UN's climate chief Patricia Espinosa made passionate pleas to governments to finish the work they set for themselves and conclude the summit with an effective outcome.

The main objective of the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP24, is to finalize the implementation guidelines of the landmark 2015 Paris agreement on climate change in a rulebook named the Paris rulebook.

Making a compassionate speech, Guterres said that "the (COP) Presidency presented a new basis for negotiations... the key political issues remain unresolved. This is not surprising... but we are running out of time".

Climate negotiators told IANS that the UN Secretary General plea came in the wake of sharp differences between the rich and poor countries over climate finance, transfer of technology, capacity building and mitigation.

"The developed countries have effectively taken a stand that the differentiation between the developed and developing countries can no longer be operationalized in the Paris rulebook," one negotiator said, adding levels of transparency also remain an issue.

With 2018 chosen by the parties themselves as the deadline for the adoption of implementation guidelines or a "work programme" to move forward with, the 197 parties of the UN Climate Chance Convention were gathered to agree on how they will achieve the Paris commitments collectively, build trust between nations and bring the 2015 agreement to life.

Guterres said: "We need to accelerate efforts to reach consensus if we want to follow-up on the commitments made in Paris. The Katowice package needs to deliver the Paris agreement work programme, progress on finance and a strong and solid basis for the revision of National Determined Contributions under the Talanoa Dialogue."

On provision of finance, he said: "Developed countries must scale up their contributions to jointly mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020. And we need to strengthen the Green Climate Fund."

Last week, the four big oil and gas producers -- the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait -- faced off against every other country who wanted to formally "welcome" in the UN text the landmark 1.5 degrees Celsius IPCC report that focussed on urgency and also scaled up ambition by the world.

The US stood alone among the world's countries in refusing to endorse the findings of the report.

India-based independent public research and advocacy think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Tuesday said "it is clear now that the talks are progressing towards a weak outcome".

Deputy Director General Chandra Bhushan of the CSE, one of the observers, told IANS that it was better to have no rulebook for the Paris agreement than a weak and incomplete rulebook.

(Vishal Gulati is in Katowice at the invitation of Climate Trends to cover the 24th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP24. He can be contacted at [email protected])-IANS