COP 24: The Highs, The Lows and What is to Come…

2-14 December 2018 Katowice, Poland
Keywords : Activities Climate Change And Environment Reports

This week, all roads lead to Katowice - one of the oldest and historic coal mining towns in Europe. Thousands of people are flooding the town for what is described as the biggest annual conference. The 24th session of the Conference of Parties organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is taking place from 2-14 December 2018 and is held under the Polish Presidency

December 6

Despite the usual euphoria that comes with the Climate Summit, this year’s conference is surrounded by many contradictions. Not only were many Environmental Groups skeptical about the conference being held in Poland, a country whose energy supply is 80% - 90% dependent on coal; an announcement by the Polish Government earlier in 2018, indicating that the state-owned coal company – JWS - along with coal-based energy companies - PGE and Tauron were chosen as partners for the global talks aimed at reducing global warming through cutting greenhouse gas emissions triggered a lot of uproar. Furthermore, the announcement of the ban on any form of spontaneous mobilization or protest during the Conference also left a sour taste for most Civil Society Organizations and Environmental Groups.
Basically, this year’s COP is one to look out for!

Importantly, the Conference is set to be decisive following the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. High on the agenda of COP 24 is the goal of adopting a Rule Book - what is referred to as the Paris Agreement Work Program. This Rule Book will spell out the modalities towards implementing the provisions outlined in the Paris Agreement - a process which has tarried for no clear and legitimate reasons. In the past 3 years, negotiations have been politicized and little progress made in setting out a clear pathway towards implementing the provisions set in the Paris Agreement.

Following the release of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 in October this year, the UN warns that the world has 12 years to mitigate climate change or face daunting and irreversible effects. The need for this Rule Book is even more urgent now. Furthermore COP24 is also set to take concrete and firm decisions on how to mobilize the 100 billion per year commitment by industrialized countries for developing countries for climate Adaptation – an issue pending since the adoption of the Paris Agreement.

Katowice therefore will define the real state of affairs with Climate negotiations and set clarity on where Governments aim to go with climate action.
The question on the minds of most in the busy corridors of the COP Center is ‘would this COP deliver the needed outcomes’?
The International Trade Union Confederation is well represented in Katowice and is rallying behind 3 key demands including:

  • 1- Raising Climate Ambition
  • 2- Just Transition for Workers
  • 3- Climate Finance for Low Carbon Development

Taking on board the specific realities of Africa, the African Regional Organization of the International Trade Union Confederation - ITUC-Africa has further expanded these demands.

A ten member delegation from trade unions from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe are present in Katowice and pushing the demands outlined below.

Despite the many contradictions, the Labor movement and broader Civil Society remains resolute in pushing forward these demands and holding Parties accountable to adopting a Rule Book which is highly critical in galvanizing climate action.
Nonetheless, concerns are mounting among CSOs at the seemingly slow pace and lack of urgency of action by Governments.
The Friends of the Earth – a good ally to the Trade Unions and one of the lead Environmental Groups

It is therefore important that COP24 delivers the expectations of Civil Society Organizations and progressive Parties. This is crucial in keeping the trust among stakeholders and maintaining the positive spirit in which the Paris Agreement was negotiated and adopted in 2015.
What more, it is clear that we cannot spare any more years of inaction – at least the current IPCC Report provides enough evidence for any skeptic!

Rhoda Boateng
ITUC-Africa, Climate Change Program Coordinator

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