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Poland agreement key to climate change future

Jeffrey Gogo Climate
The annual UN climate negotiations at Katowice, Poland, may have long ended, but the agreements reached there will be key to shaping the future of the climate change sector throughout the world going forward. They will guide the kind of action that state parties will likely take to prevent global temperature rise from tipping into dangerous territory — a course that looks more certain than is avoidable under prevailing geopolitical circumstances.

According to Washington Zhakata, Zimbabwe’s lead climate negotiator, world governments adopted what he called “a robust set of guidelines” at Katowice in December, which will be used to implement the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change of 2015. He said negotiators signed a set of agreements called the “Katowice Climate Package” — “designed to operationalise the climate change regime contained in the Paris Agreement.”

Mr Zhakata, who is also climate change director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Climate, said the package of agreements “will promote international cooperation and encourage greater ambition for emission reductions to slow down global warming”, which has given rise to the existing changes in climate.

In a statement to The Herald Business, he detailed: “The guidelines will promote trust among nations that all countries are playing their part in addressing the challenge of climate change through the adoption of the guidelines for the Transparency Framework for reporting domestic and international climate actions in the various countries.”

One of the major deals reached was on individual country climate plans known as the nationally determined contributions (NDCs), a key building block of the Paris treaty that detail plans about halting the climate damage. The Katowice package sets out how countries will provide information about their home-grown climate actions. Mr Zhakata explained that “this information includes mitigation and adaptation measures as well as details of financial support for climate action in developing countries.”

Under Zimbabwe’s NDCs, the country has committed to reduce emissions by 33 percent per capita by 2030 in the energy sector. But that depends on the benevolence of rich countries providing finance for its targeted programmes, as they pledged to do under the climate negotiations framework.

“The country’s adaptation goal will hinge on climate smart agriculture, which has already been started in the ministry after the launch of the Climate Smart Agriculture Manual . . .” said Mr Zhakata. Other agreements from Poland included the requirement for countries to develop the implementation and the measuring, reporting and verification frameworks. This is to enable every country to “track progress on emission reduction quantitatively in a transparent manner as required under the Paris Agreement,” he stated. In 2023, a Global Stocktake will be conducted to take stock of the effectiveness of individual countries’ climate action. Parties agreed on the guidelines on what will be required of each country, particularly whether nations were on track to reduce emissions as well as in strengthening resilience of communities to climate change.

On the contentious issue of loss and damage, Zimbabwe and Africa didn’t quite get what they were hoping for. “Issues of compensation for the current losses and damages due to climate change were strongly resisted by the developed countries opting to combine them with the other adaptation initiatives,” Mr Zhakata lamented.

“As developing countries we were pushing for the separation of loss and damage associated with climate change impacts from adaptation in line with the Paris Agreement which separates the two cognisant of the high vulnerability and low adaptive capacity of developing countries,” he added.

The issue of loss and damage has bedevilled climate negotiations for many years as developing countries seek recognition and compensation for the damages caused by rising temperatures and the consequent climate extremes. This has resulted in the richer nations rejecting the idea of being legally liable for causing climate change for fear of huge bills for compensation well into the future.

Mr Zhakata said there was a stand-off over the question of carbon credits and carbon markets to reduce emissions. Rich nations often reduce their emissions by paying for carbon-cutting projects in other countries. But these programmes are very difficult to police.

“Fraud and double accounting have rendered many of them worthless — they are often dubbed hot air schemes,” he said, citing Brazil as the biggest culprit. Overall, the negotiations at Katowice appeared to move in a direction that holds some promise for the global climate sector, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

“Zimbabwe can benefit more in a new mechanism on carbon reading under the Paris Agreement than the current mechanism which the developed countries, who are the major buyers of carbon credits, are discrediting. Sable Chemicals has a project that is ready to enter the carbon market,” said Mr Zhakata.

God is faithful.

jeffgogo@gmail.com

Source : The Herald

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