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Did Katowice Actually Achieve Anything?

December 18, 2018

By Paul Homewood


Matt McGrath waxes lyrical about the “success” of COP24, but what difference will it actually make?




Negotiators in Poland have finally secured agreement on a range of measures that will make the Paris climate pact operational in 2020.

Last-minute rows over carbon markets threatened to derail the two-week summit – and delayed it by a day.

Delegates believe the new rules will ensure that countries keep their promises to cut carbon.

The Katowice agreement aims to deliver the Paris goals of limiting global temperature rises to well below 2C.

"Putting together the Paris agreement work programme is a big responsibility," said the chairman of the talks, known as COP24, Michal Kurtyka.

"It has been a long road. We did our best to leave no-one behind."

The summit accord, reached by 196 states, outlines plans for a common rulebook for all countries – regulations that will govern the nuts and bolts of how countries cut carbon, provide finance to poorer nations and ensure that everyone is doing what they say they are doing.

Sorting out the rulebook sounds easy but is very technical. Countries often have different definitions and timetables for their carbon cutting actions.

Poorer countries want some "flexibility" in the rules so that they are not overwhelmed with regulations that they don’t have the capacity to put into practice.

The idea of being legally liable for causing climate change has long been rejected by richer nations, who fear huge bills well into the future.

A deadlock between Brazil and other countries over the rules for the monitoring of carbon credits threatened to derail the talks.

Brazil had been pushing for a weaker set of rules on carbon markets, despite strong opposition from many other countries. These discussions have now been deferred until next year.

Further tensions emerged last weekend, scientists and delegates were shocked when the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait objected to the meeting "welcoming" a recent UN report on keeping global temperature rise to within the 1.5C limit.

The report said the world is now completely off track, heading more towards 3C this century.

In a compromise, the final statement from the summit welcomed the "completion" of the report and invited countries to make use of it.



It was only a couple of weeks ago that Matt McGrath identified the need for urgent action in three areas:

  • More money for poorer countries
  • Greater transparency, so richer countries can check what the rest are doing.
  • Greater ambition – quicker, deeper cuts in emissions now from the richer countries
  • .

    In the cold light of day, none of these priorities have been achieved, or even set in motion at Katowice. Neither have any other decisions of substance been made which might have some effect on emissions, as far as I can see anyway.

    We are still awaiting the final Agreement Text to be published by UNFCCC. However, we do have what is called “Decisions adopted at the Climate Change Conference in Katowice, Poland, 2-14 December 2018”, as “advanced unedited versions”. (Translation – they might be tweaked!).

    In turn, these “Decisions” stem from the President’s Draft Decision here.

    Having read through the Decisions, little has stemmed from Katowice that would even start to address McGrath’s three actions.

    1) Money

    The only substantive decision about climate finance is this:

    Decides to initiate at its third session (November 2020), in accordance with Article 9, paragraph 3, of the Paris Agreement, deliberations on setting a new collective quantified goal from a floor of USD 100 billion per year, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency of implementation and taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries


    The fact that the target of $100bn a year from 2020 has no chance of being met does not seem to have entered into the heads of the negotiators.

    Indeed the original Copenhagen target of raising $100bn in total by 2020 has also gone by the wayside. For instance, the Green Climate Fund, specifically set up within the framework of the UNFCCC following Copenhagen, has to date only received $10.3bn in pledges.

    There is much disagreement about what should and should not be included as “climate finance”. Developed countries, who are paying the bill, regularly attempt to include as much as they can. For instance, UK climate finance money is regularly sourced from the existing Overseas Aid budget.

    The Copenhagen Agreement was however quite clear. The £100bn of climate finance had to be “new and additional” money, not simply redistributed from existing aid.

    Developed countries are also keen to include commercial private finance and loans, meaning that recipient countries have to pay the money back one way or another, something they are naturally reluctant to do!

    All of this was left up in the air at Paris, and it does not appear that Katowice has changed or clarified any of this.

    2) Transparency

    The draft text includes a great deal of detail on how things like emissions should be calculated, and agrees on the timing of the first biennial transparency and national inventory reports, being by Dec 2024.

    But responsibility still lies with each individual country, failing to address the need for greater transparency. In reality, the reports that we see are unlikely to be significantly different to the data already coming out of BP and the IEA.

    3) Greater ambition

    Nothing has changed here, as it was never on the Agenda at Katowice.

    There are certainly no changes of existing NDCs, and no commitment to improve on these after 2030.

    The position remains exactly as it was in the Paris Agreement, which gave this vague commitment:


    Final Thoughts

    There is no doubt a lot of work has gone into all the various drafts, but it is little more than dotting i’s.

    It’s a bit like agreeing to pay somebody £1000 in the first meeting, and then having a second meeting to determine who the cheque should be made payable, where it should be sent and what colour ink it should be written in.

    That they needed 22,000 to attend Katowice to achieve this is ludicrous in the extreme.

    As for Matt McGrath, I have no doubt he will be back at the same time in Chile next year, to warn us that we are in the last chance saloon (again!).

    Last word goes to Greenpeace, who are distinctly underimpressed:

    Just two months after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned we have 12 years left to save the world, COP24 ended with no clear promise of enhanced climate action. COP24 led to an approved Paris Agreement rulebook, but no clear, collective commitment to enhance climate action targets – Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – was reached despite expectations that Katowice would deliver step-change.

    Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan said:

    “A year of climate disasters and a dire warning from the world’s top scientists should have led to so much more. Instead, governments let people down again as they ignored the science and the plight of the vulnerable. Recognizing the urgency of raised ambition and adopting a set of rules for climate action is not nearly enough when whole nations face extinction. Without immediate action, even the strongest rules will not get us anywhere. People expected action and that is what governments did not deliver. This is morally unacceptable and they must now carry with them the outrage of people and come to the UN Secretary General’s summit in 2019 with higher climate action targets.”

    Greenpeace urges governments to ramp up action immediately and prove they have heard the demands of people. The IPCC report should be the call to action – action that matches the pace and scale of the threat.

    We continue to witness an irresponsible divide between the vulnerable island states and impoverished countries pitted against those who would block climate action or who are immorally failing to act fast enough. People are fed up, outraged at these injustices and are taking action to defend their homes and children and pushing their leaders to act. These people are the hope of our generation and governments must finally stand with them and give us all reasons for hope,” Morgan added.

    1. Joe Public permalink
      December 18, 2018 6:14 pm

      Is that the same Greenpeace which felt the need to fly-in most of its 48 freeloaders to the Katowice gabfest?

    2. Barry Capsey permalink
      December 18, 2018 6:27 pm

      A monumental waste of everyone’s time. The expenditure of all that hot air could well raise the temp by what, a hundred billionth of a degree? Global warming is a SCAM.

    3. December 18, 2018 7:14 pm

      A totally cynical view of this UN activity is probably justified. Some progress has to be claimed to have been made to keep the funds flowing, but not too much progress, also to keep the funds flowing.

      Back in the real world all that matters is the flow of gas, oil and coal, because apart from token efforts at wind and solar electricity, fossil fuels still dominate the triumvirate of energy demands: heating, transport and electricity. Are renewable sources of energy even still growing? – given that new/existing nuclear and hydro are prone to incite Green Zombie Apocalypse, further proof that all this has little to do with Planet Saving, and a lot to do with money and politics.

    4. December 18, 2018 7:24 pm

      If we are to host COP#26 then someone should make a petition for it to be a video conference only.

      I’d sign.

    5. December 18, 2018 7:36 pm

      The UN should be defunded. It originally served a purpose to prevent conflicts and wars. It has morphed into an undemocratic and unaccountable socialist monster.

      • John Palmer permalink
        December 19, 2018 12:35 am

        Quite so, Phillip!

        • George Lawson permalink
          December 19, 2018 10:26 am

          Absolutely, I. in the UK, look forward in hope that President Trump will withdraw or reduce funding to this body that seems to have little purpose in this modern world in peace keeping or upholding its original purpose. All the current Secretary General appears to do is support the status quo on global warming and other money wasting programmes.

      • Peter F Gill permalink
        December 19, 2018 9:11 am

        Probably an understatement Phillip!

    6. Silver Dynamite permalink
      December 18, 2018 8:13 pm

      Yes Jennifer Morgan I am outraged about the injustice of people afraid to heat their homes and the loss of economic advancement for poorer states your ludicrous posturing requires.

    7. Athelstan permalink
      December 18, 2018 8:14 pm

      “international Executive Director Jennifer Morgan”

      such grand titles for agitating and very dangerous far left extremists,

      if it weren’t for the political guff merchants, why would any rational, sane man/woman, even give them the time of day ?

    8. howardpaul permalink
      December 18, 2018 9:47 pm

      A “Climate Disaster” in a single year? What Greenpeace idiot wrote that?

      And, on the topic of words, those extracts from the Presidents’s decisions create the need for a neologism, as TURGID is far too complimentary.

    9. Gamecock permalink
      December 18, 2018 11:49 pm

      22,000 people had a good time at Katowice.

      22,000 people felt good about themselves.

      Poland got to show off. Excellent marketing for them.

      So, yes, Katowice achieved something.

    10. Ian Miller permalink
      December 19, 2018 7:30 am

      The Rabid Green Propaganda machine, needs to be stopped.
      Why are those with the opposing interests not doing so ? They have the money to do so !!

    11. December 19, 2018 9:08 am

      The circus comes to town, then moves on.

      Date: 17/12/18 Global Warming Policy Forum
      Same COP procedure as every year

    12. December 19, 2018 12:43 pm

      The problem with most of the “poorer countries” is not their lack of resources, it is their lack of a governmental system with integrity. Any monies directed their way go straight into the pockets of the corrupt leaders. I suspect that is widely realized by these elites and they like it that way. There are always the poor nations to point to as a reason we need to give up our wealth to the elite who will direct it to the other corrupt elites.

      • Russ Wood permalink
        December 21, 2018 12:38 pm

        South Africa is about to have a ‘carbon tax’ imposed, and everyone who knows about it reasons that the destination will be into the politicians’ and other fat cats’ pockets. Anyway, the main contributor to CO2 output is our monopoly power generator and distributor Eskom, who is currently bankrupt! And I can’t see the ANC trying to get ‘blood from a stone’ by raising the price of already expensive electricity. A number of municipalities already are deep in debt to Eskom, some for four or five years’ worth of electricity, and I can’t see that putting up the prices will get them to pay up!

    13. Gerry, England permalink
      December 19, 2018 1:45 pm

      ‘Greenpeace urges governments to ramp up action immediately and prove they have heard the demands of people’

      These must be a different crowd of people to those who put global warming at the bottom of their list of concerns.

    14. December 20, 2018 5:55 am

      For all thinking adults it actually revealed the ugly underbelly song and dance activism nature of what was initially sold as science.

      The data does not show any basis for climate action. That is to say that they have yet to provide statistically sound evidence that reducing emissions will change the rate of warming or even the rate of rise in atmospheric CO2.

      Please see

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