Concrete outcomes from UN climate change talks in Poland mean it is time to get to work

New York, Dec 17— When ministers concluded negotiations on Sunday morning, 30 hours beyond the allotted time frame, a final deal on climate action at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 24) in Katowice, Poland, was to some extent achieved.

The ‘Katowice Climate Package’ is the name given to the basket of issues that have been negotiated and agreed upon. Together this makes up the majority of the ‘rulebook’ by which the Paris Agreement can be implemented by countries around the world.

The key elements that were agreed upon include how countries will both define and provide information on national climate action under the Paris Agreement, how to measure cumulative global efforts by 2023, as well as a process to mobilize financing to support this action.

Yet several issues remained contentious, such as rules for carbon markets and trading, referred to under ‘Article 6’ of the Paris Agreement, which have been deferred until next year. Some were also critical that the text was not forceful enough in demanding more urgent and ambitious action.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres returned in the final days of the conference, reinforcing the message that climate change is the number one priority for the United Nations. In his speech he said “We must beat climate change before it beats us. It is a race we can win. It is a race we must win.”

Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Policy and Programme Bureau, highlighted how UNDP’s work is driving the climate action agenda through the support it provides across 140 countries: “At UNDP we focus on the alignment between the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda, recognizing that climate change not only threatens development outcomes but ambitious climate action can provide opportunities to unlock economic and social gains.”

Throughout the two weeks of negotiations, UNDP shared its country-level programming experiences through numerous events, all aimed at advocating for three key ingredients needed to scale up countries’ action to meet their national pledges, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).  This is necessary in order to  ensure the urgency and ambition needed to implement the Paris Agreement. Some of the highlights were as follows:

First, foster public-private partnership to scale up finance.  With estimates suggesting 85 to 90 percent of Paris Agreement funding needs to come from the private sector, UNDP demonstrated ways to use limited public funds to unlock private investments. For example, together with the World Bank, and World Climate Ltd., UNDP developed and implemented the first ever Investment COP, convening investors and public sector actors to identify country-level business opportunities that advance climate action. In addition, initiatives such as Indonesia’s green sukuk – the first of its kind sovereign Islamic green bond – provided a prime example of how to bring additional, private finance into the climate change sphere.

Second, enhance adaptation. The recent IPCC report indicating the catastrophic impacts of our warming world put pressure on negotiators to not only take urgent mitigation action, but also to prioritize adaptation.  UNDP engaged in over 15 adaptation related events throughout the two weeks of COP, often with other UN agencies such as FAO and UN Environment. Two flagship adaptation reports were launched, reflecting on years of country experiences in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and Africa.

Third, leverage nature-based solutions. UNDP celebrated the 10th anniversary of the UN-REDD initiative, and advocated the need to engage non-state actors, particularly indigenous peoples, to leverage the benefits of forest and land use management, more broadly known, along with other approaches, as nature-based solutions. In this regard, a key outcome of the conference was the ‘Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform,’ putting in place a formal channel for indigenous peoples’ views and interests to be communicated to the UNFCCC process.

The outcomes of COP24 are lauded as an impressive achievement, given the scale of work negotiators were tasked with over these two weeks; yet, the work has just begun.  With this new ‘rulebook’ in place, it is now the responsibility of countries, with support from organizations like UNDP, to turn their pledges into concrete adaptation and mitigation action.  This includes revisiting their national climate pledges by 2020 with the aim to increase ambition in order to meet the Paris goals.  This will require mobilizing political will and leadership, becoming the focus of the SG’s Summit in September 2019. 

UNDP welcomes the progress made thus far, and welcomes the challenge and opportunity to deliver on Paris and Katowice, now and well into the future.

Media queries

In New York - Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist, UNDP Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, sangita.khadka@undp.org; Tel: +1 212 906 5043

In Geneva- Sarah Bel, Communications Specialist, UNDP Geneva email: sarah.bel@undp.org; Tel. +41 79 934 1117

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