There is a whiff of coal in the air. The smog grips the city in a grey twilight. We are in Katowice. The global climate conference is to be held here, of all places? Standing in the Polish Pavilion, you might think it was all about the future of fossil fuels. They are actually exhibiting coal and promoting it as green here!
But that almost goes unnoticed in the eager bustle of the conference participants, dashing from one panel discussion to the next. Conversation at COP24 and the many side events focuses on the big climate protection issues: greenhouse gases, national climate targets, contributions to sustainable development, funding instruments, the Talanoa Dialogue and the latest IPCC report.
The multiplicity and complexity of global climate protection becomes incredibly clear to one here. According to the agreement, every nation has shared but differentiated responsibilities with regard to climate change. But nations are made up of people, so these responsibilities also apply to each and every individual. Everyone is affected, and they all rightly demand that their concerns be heard. Inhabitants of island states are affected just as much as coal miners in Poland, but in different ways. There is an awareness that we need solutions from every area of society in order to limit global warming: technological innovation, cultural change, political agreements, advances in science, etc. This means that people around the world will have to cooperate, taking a wide range of different roles. One element is crucial to this: hope. Here you can see no despairing faces – at least outside the negotiation rooms. Each time global warming is reduced by just one-tenth of a degree, it protects us from catastrophic consequences. Countless participants look to the future with hope and demonstrate their various ideas and contributions for this reduction.
There are plenty of positive messages and developments to be heard and seen, particularly outside the plenary. The 1.5-degree target now seems to be the undisputed goal. The finance sector has also woken up and is slowly becoming aware of its vital role. There is no lack of clean technologies – nor of concepts for mobility, urban planning and resource protection. And there are countless examples of communities, cities and countries which are switching to renewable energies, introducing carbon pricing, implementing sustainable transport systems, embracing sustainability...
At the same time negotiations are underway behind closed doors. And they are tough. The rules for the implementation of the Paris Global Climate Agreement. At times progress is slow, at times it seems illusive – but after an extra day of haggling, a set of rules is accepted unanimously after all. These regulations are clearly a compromise – but they do include some clear rules. For example, procedures have been defined for comparing the individual countries in terms of climate protection in future, and for measuring and reporting their progress. The desired level of transparency is also to be considered a success, as is the agreement on the funding of climate protection measures for particularly affected developing countries by the industrialised nations (or by all countries "depending on their capabilities"). Unfortunately, the rules for market mechanisms, i.e. for the national recognition of emissions reductions by means of climate protection measures abroad, were deferred.
The goal of the climate conference has thus been achieved with this agreement: there is a set of rules for the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. Even though the final commitment has still not been obtained, the Paris Agreement and the set of rules emerging from Katowice are the basis for developing momentum in climate protection, which no country and no industrialist or politician can escape.
So what's still missing? We have scientific certainty, we have clear rules, we have the technologies, we have the resources and we have some great examples and climate protection measures from every corner of the globe. What's missing are ambitious targets – and they are what the countries must include in their reduction plans (NDCs). This also applies to Switzerland – above all with regard to its domestic climate protection measures. With more action and greater ambition, Switzerland should be making the headlines.
Until Switzerland recognises this opportunity, we at myclimate will keep fighting for climate protection with renewed courage and increasingly with combined strength. We must hurry, because we have no more time to lose.
myclimate at COP24
Under the heading #together4the17, myclimate took over the Austrian Pavilion together with three other partners: Klimabündnis Vorarlberg, Helioz and Alpla. A quiz on the theme of the climate and the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and a game of darts lured a mixed bunch of participants into the pavilion. Those who hit the bulls-eye at darts had their journeys to Katowice calculated and offset by myclimate. These included flights from Ghana, Sri Lanka and Buenos Aires, as well as a train trip from Austria and hitch-hiking from Paris. The sections on the dartboard represented the SDGs and each player took the opportunity to explain his or her contribution or solution and to present it via social media. It was lively, interactive and colourful.
In the context of the Sustainable Development Dialogue, Franziska Heidenreich discussed how important it is to embed sustainable development criteria for the success and the credibility of the market mechanisms with Marion Verles, CEO Gold Standard, former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer and John Christensen, Director of UNEP-DTO. Other advertised experts on the subject of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement did not make it onto the podium because the Article 6 negotiations kept them occupied.