COP 24 to seek stronger commitments to combating climate change

Wednesday, 2018-12-05 17:56:18
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Delegates arrive for the COP 24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland December 2, 2018. (Reuters)
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NDO – Representatives from nearly 200 countries around the world have gathered in Katowice, Poland, to attend the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 24), with the top priority given to seeking ways to tackle the challenge in preventing global temperature rises. Poor countries have urged the wealthy nations to seriously implement the commitments in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change before it is too late.

Three years ago, in the French capital of Paris, countries pledged to limit global warming at 2 degrees Celsius and more safely by 1.5 degrees Celsius. The wealthy nations “promised” to contribute US$100 billion a year until 2020 to help developing countries cope with global warming. However, to date, the world has witnessed catastrophic natural disasters, causing severe damage to human lives. Meanwhile, the amount of money that the rich countries have committed to contribute stands at only US$10 billion. “Fine words butter no parsnip” and if the budget for the fight against climate change only stops at such a small figure, it can be fully affirmed that so far the countries have yet to mobilise sufficient resources to help fulfil the ambitious goals set by the world.

COP 24 is an opportunity for countries to take decisive action to tackle the pressing threat. The main content of the conference is to discuss the possible adoption of an agenda outlining a roadmap for the implementation of the Paris Agreement signed in 2015. Accordingly, countries will have to agree on a set of rules acceptable to all of the 183 countries that have ratified the agreement. With the slogan of “Changing Together”, Poland is committed to doing its utmost so that a set of standards guiding the implementation of the deal will be adopted. One of the concerns, however, is whether there will be a “domino effect”, following the withdrawal of the United States, because, in his election campaign, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonar has pledged to “follow” the US in withdrawing the South American country from the Paris Agreement due to disagreements over Amazon protection measures.

Finance is considered a thorny issue that will cause controversy at the conference, as countries want to put their national interests above the common good of the entire humanity. Poor countries in the southern hemisphere, which are suffering from the complications of climate change, mainly caused by greenhouse gas emissions from rich countries, have prompted the countries in the northern hemisphere to undertake stronger commitments. In order to show its determination in the fight against climate change, the World Bank has announced a US$200 billion investment in a climate change fighting action plan from 2021 to 2025, while stressing that the number is twice as much as the current five-year budget. Many countries and businesses have also pledged to implement plans to convert from the use of fossil fuel, which is seen as a major pollutant, into the use of environmentally friendly renewable energy sources. However, as for the countries which have long been dependent on coal-based power, this is seen as a challenge because the coal industry generates a large number of jobs and employs a large number of workers.

The WB warns that, unless gas emissions are reduced and effective measures are taken, it is estimated that, by 2030, the world will have an additional 100 million people living in poverty. The lack of proactivity in addressing the problems in Africa, South Asia and Latin America will cause roughly 133 million people to migrate due to climate change. In the context of an urgent need to combat rising sea levels, floods and droughts, the world will not only need to eradicate the root of the problems but also has to seek way to adapt to the consequences. Therefore, the financial issue still remains the most important aspect to help countries add “fuel” to the “climate change fighting machine”. Through enhancing financial support for the most affected developing countries, the WB will not only invest in infrastructure to cope with climate change, but also focus on the fields of smart agricultural development, sustainable water management, and the establishment of rapid social safety nets and early response networks.

The alarm bells due to the world going astray in the plan to prevent climate change have been rung. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has urged developed nations to increase their budget to support developing countries in the fight against climate change. In order to achieve the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, alongside the political will of the leaders, rich countries need to strengthen financial funding to help poor countries to implement solutions to protect the “green planet” which is sending out urgent SOS signals.