The UN climate change summit, that this year is celebrated in the Polish city of Katowice, faces its final week, in which the negotiations have a less technical profile and in which the ministers and political representatives of the almost 200 participating countries come into play. And heading this week divided: the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait joined on Saturday to prevent the summit being "welcomed" the last report of the IPCC (the group of experts charged with monitoring for the UN the effects of climate change and ways to combat it).
That report, basically, what it says is that the planet is running out of time for the warming to be within manageable thresholds. The Paris Agreement – which must be developed during this Katowice summit – establishes that countries must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions so that by the end of the century the increase in the temperature of the planet is between 1.5 and two. degrees centigrade with respect to pre-industrial levels. And the last report of the IPCC asked the governments that urgently, during the next decade, undertake drastic cuts in their emissions to meet that goal.
This analysis was commissioned to the IPCC by the almost 200 countries that closed the Paris Agreement in 2015. Its conclusions do not set obligations for any State. After its presentation in October, this summit should be welcomed with "satisfaction" to the study. But those four countries refused on Saturday to take that step and proposed that only opt for the formula of "take note", something rejected by most countries attending. Finally, there was no agreement and the declaration on the IPCC report was not approved.
"I'm sorry it was like that. It was important to note together the importance of the report of the 1.5 degrees of the IPCC and the urgency to accelerate the transformation, "lamented Saturday night the Spanish Minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, through the social network Twitter.
The non-approval of that declaration does not have immediate practical effects in principle. "But it sends a worrying signal for the rest of the week," says David Howell, climate negotiations expert at SEO / BirdLife. Negotiators from these 200 countries will have to resolve the fine print of the Paris Agreement by Friday, which is expected to begin when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2020. In principle, the technical part of the pending work did not seem too complicated, according to some experts. But the blocking position of these four countries is "a worrying signal," says Howell.
Oil and gas
Three of these four states (Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait) have economies that are very dependent on oil and gas, so the drastic and urgent measures of decarbonisation that the IPCC report proposed would hit them harshly. At the helm of the fourth discordant country, the United States, is Donald Trump, opposed to the fight against climate change.
Trump has already announced that his country will leave the Paris Agreement. But this pact contained several clauses that make it impossible for the US to leave the agreement until the end of 2020. During the two summits held since the Trump victory, the US delegation had maintained a low profile; neither hindered nor showed active. What is "worrisome," explains Howell, is that the flaws in the case of the IPCC report may imply a change of course in the United States, that is, that it may move to a blocking position.
Regarding the IPCC report, Howell does not rule out that this issue be taken up again during this week and that some reference to this document could finally be approved on the last day in the form of a political declaration.
During this week the negotiators of the countries meeting in Katowice will have to close the development of the rules of the Paris Agreement. For example, they should set out the way in which all countries submit plans for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and transparency instruments. In addition, developing countries want the wealthiest states to give assurances that from 2020 there will be 100 billion dollars to help them mitigate the effects of climate change.