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STATEMENT: Tough Climate Talks Wrap Up in Poland, Putting Paris Agreement in Motion

KATOWICE, POLAND (December 15, 2018)— The international climate negotiations in Katowice, Poland, concluded today with enough progress to set the Paris Agreement in motion. While contentious, the talks made headway on important issues and set the stage for countries’ to submit their next round of national climate commitments. The next marker will be the UN Climate Summit in September 2019, when countries will be expected to articulate how they will raise ambition by 2020.

Following is a statement from Helen Mountford, Vice President for Global Climate and Economics, World Resources Institute:

“After two bruising weeks of negotiations, the world made just enough progress to set the Paris Agreement in motion.

“Countries emerged from the Katowice climate talks reaffirming their collective decision in Paris to submit national climate commitments by 2020. This important outcome was buoyed in the final days by an upsurge in support from developed and developing countries committed to step up their ambition within two years. The UN Climate Summit in September 2019 is now positioned as a critical juncture for world leaders to articulate how their next national climate plans will respond to dire warnings of the latest IPCC report. Countries need to go back to their capitals and start doing their homework to get ready.

“Countries agreed to core elements of the rulebook that brings the historic Paris Agreement to life. While some guidelines could have been clearer and other details remain unresolved, countries now have a foundation to implement their climate plans and common guidelines for how to report their progress in a more robust manner. Countries also agreed to regularly take stock of collective progress on curbing emissions, adapting to impacts, increasing and aligning investments, and addressing loss and damage. To avoid rules that could have allowed double counting emission reductions, negotiators ultimately punted the issue of carbon markets to next year.

“On finance, the signs were similarly mixed. Some countries announced contributions to the Green Climate Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund, and for the first time annual pledges to the Adaptation Fund crossed the $100 million threshold. Countries also agreed to kick off a process starting in 2020 to set a new finance goal that goes beyond $100 billion a year. It’s clear much greater financial assistance is needed to ensure developing countries can climate solutions and adapt to the increasingly extreme impacts from a warming world. Next year is a key moment for countries to come forward with ambitious pledges for the Green Climate Fund’s first replenishment.

“The dust-up around climate science during the UN climate talks was both surprising and disappointing. While over 190 countries sought to fully embrace the findings of the IPCC 1.5° C report, they were countered by a small group of outliers, namely the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. With climate impacts being felt more acutely every day – especially by the most vulnerable communities – it should never be contentious to welcome the best and latest evidence that the scientific community has to offer.

“The Trump administration’s efforts to highlight fossil fuels is out of step with the American public that wants real progress on climate change. The U.S. administration was overshadowed by American business leaders, governors, mayors and investors that came to show their commitment to accelerating climate action, even if the federal government will not.

“The reality is that the world has not yet turned the corner to aggressively drive down global emissions. And the window is closing. The inadequate global response to the climate crisis was articulated eloquently by 15-year-old Greta Thunberg who confronted delegates at these negotiations, calling on them to “pull the emergency break” to combat this existential crisis. Her words delivered a powerful message that global leaders should not ignore.

“The Paris Agreement is grounded in a vision of the world working together, united by a spirit of cooperation. Heads of state urgently need to take bold measures in their countries and collectively to cut emissions, enhance resilience and seize the economic and social benefits that can propel us to a safer, more prosperous future.“

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