Saturday, December 15, 2018

Final Dispatch from COP24:  What Just Happened?

COP 24*Katowice (Image Credit: UN Climate Change/Flickr/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Click to Enlarge.
For most of us the UN climate talks — or COP24 — are drawing to a close and home is in sight.

That’s probably not the case for hundreds of negotiators who still have a lot to sort out before they can agree on the rules to implement the Paris Agreement, and are likely to work through the night and possibly beyond to do so.

After two weeks of protesting, lobbying, greenwashing, setbacks, and admittedly important progress made on the rulebook for the Paris Agreement, the end of the conference offers a time to reflect.

I spent two weeks running around the long corridors of the climate conference in Katowice, Poland, striving to make sense of what this was all about.

As I leave the conference center one last time, the euphoric momentum that sent shockwaves through the world when the Paris Agreement was reached three years ago has tapered off.

As things stand, the historic commitment countries made to collectively reduce emissions and tackle the climate crisis seems more vulnerable than ever to political and corporate obstruction.

Inside the negotiations, big oil and gas exporters such as the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Kuwait blocked the welcoming of one of the most important scientific reports warning of the dangers of climate inaction.  The rest of the world seems to have endorsed the more ambitious goal of limiting global temperature to 1.5 degrees — no small feat.

Meanwhile, the head of a powerful business lobby representing big corporations and fossil fuel companies openly told me the group was actively engaging in one section of the negotiations and hoping to influence its outcome.

While this may have the merit of transparency, there are still many questions to be asked about the fact dozens of country delegates with access to closed negotiation rooms have ties to the oil, gas, and mining sectors.

There has also been a great dose of disinformation throughout the conference.  A tight group of notorious climate science deniers were seen sitting in the front of row of a pro-fossil fuel event held by the Trump administration and backed by Australia’s environment ambassador.

The group of about a dozen men (and one woman) was largely ignored by the rest of the conference.  But in the age of Trump and Bolsonaro, these marginal figures have been emboldened to use the stage of the climate talks to spread disinformation and lies.

Read more at Final Dispatch from COP24:  What Just Happened?

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