A global action plan to limit damage from Climate change was adopted by almost 200 nations late on Saturday (Dec 15). A day after talks were scheduled to conclude, following a two-week marathon involving delegates spending days and nights poring over the fine print.
“The overall impact of this package is positive to the world,” said Mr Michal Kurtyka, Polish president for the talks, during the final plenary session of the United Nations climate change conference in Katowice in southern Poland. “It will move us one major step closer to realising the ambition enshrined in the Paris Agreement.”
The action plan, or the Katowice Rulebook, sets out a single system for countries to make emissions cuts under national climate plans and how those plans can be regularly reported, measured, scrutinized and progressively ramped up.
The goal is to keep global warming well below 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels – a target set out in the Paris Agreement drawn up three years ago – and to aim for 1.5 deg C, if possible.
The bolder 1.5 deg C target is a key threshold for avoiding catastrophic climate change, according to a recent scientific report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was a central focus of the UN talks, called COP24.
While the Paris Agreement provided a skeletal framework to help countries achieve this goal, the rulebook lays out the roadmap for how this can be done and aims to keep all countries honest in the process. The Katowice talks marked the culmination of three years of negotiations on the rulebook, which is needed to put the Paris pact into practice.
Ms Laurence Tubiana, chief executive of the European Climate Foundation and key architect of the Paris Agreement, said: “Despite all the headwinds, the Paris Agreement has stayed course at COP24, demonstrating the kind of resilience it has been designed for.
“The decisions made here on the… rule book give us a solid foundation to keep building trust in multilateralism and accelerate the transition all across the world.”
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli told The Straits Times at the conference venue that the adoption of the rulebook was a historic moment – one that was especially significant for Singapore, which will be wrapping up its Year of Climate Action at the end of this month.
He said: “We bookmarked the year with the passing of a carbon tax, which showed our responsiveness and commitment to reducing emissions by industries. This is a fitting end to the year, with the rulebook adopted by all the countries that ratified the Paris Agreement.”
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