Climate deal role falls to Australia
Australia is being called to push back hard on moves by China to weaken the heart of the Paris Agreement and give developing countries a blanket exemption from having to report fully what actions they will take to limit emissions.
China is leading a push that includes India, Iran, the Arab Group, Vietnam and a broad range of countries from the socalled G77 for a blanket exemp- tion for developing countries from the same rules that would cover Australia, EU and other developed nations.
This might be a negotiating ploy but senior officials in Katowice said it was possible that without the US to push back hard, an agreement next week could allow for an exemption, with China and India merely promising they would not use it.
Country leaders and heads of state are due to arrive in Katowice from tomorrow for the second and final week of climate change talks billed as the most important since the Paris Agreement was reached in 2015.
Before the Paris Agreement can take effect, a rule book must be agreed that sets out a common system so that all countries can be sure other nations are doing what they have said they would do to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Research released this week showed that global CO2 emissions had continued to rise in 2018, driven largely by increased
economic activity in China and India and a cold winter in the US.
Without action from developing nations to cut emissions in future, scientists have said it will be impossible to achieve the UN goal of keeping global temperature rises to less than 2C.
The Paris Agreement was considered a breakthrough because it brought all nations into one system, after attempts to do this in Copenhagen in 2009 ended in dismal failure.
The earlier Kyoto agreement applied only to developed countries.
The deadline to reach agreement on a rule book to allow the Paris Agreement to take effect expires at the end of the year.
Senior negotiators at the Katowice meeting told The Weekend Australian exemptions now being claimed by China and other G77 countries went well beyond the principle of “common but different responsibilities” which is central to the UN framework talks.
“All the political decisions were brokered in Paris,” a developed country lead delegate said.
“But everybody has slightly different takes on what was agreed in Paris and what should be the level of detail in the guidelines.”
Negotiations have been hampered by the decision of the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreement from November next year.
US negotiators are still active in the Katowice talks but China has assumed a larger role.
Delegates in Katowice said the collective consciousness of the parties was one of an increasing urgency for action. However, the danger is that a rush to finalise the rule book could put developed nations, which have agreed to provide more than $100 billion a year to developing nations from 2020 for finance, at a disadvantage.
The key to the Paris Agreement was that it would bring all nations into the one system with a single set of rules. But with one week to go to finalise the rule book, negotiators said differentiation remained one of the main issues that had to be resolved.
Environment Minister Melissa Price is expected to be called upon to help keep the deal on track. “It might be in the end game (that) she gets involved,” a source at the conference said.
The challenge is to agree guidelines that do not have one set of rules for developing countries and another more stringent set for developed countries.