In December 2018, global leaders met in Katowice, Poland to finalize the “Paris rule book” that began back in 2015 with The Paris Agreement. In The Paris Agreement there were a lot of mandatory reporting and transparency requirements that needed definition and clarification through this rule book. Sadly, with the U.S. withdrawal from The Paris Agreement, a lot of other countries like Australia and Brazil have followed suit and backed off their commitments and most countries are not hitting their goals as well (Busby 2018). Despite this fact, many smaller groups began banding together to attempt to tackle the tough problems of phasing out coal and pledges of ensuring financial portfolios shifted to more climate-sensitive mixes. With the completion of the rule book, the work is just beginning regarding the need to shift our actions now that we have a guiding framework.
In general, my reaction to the outcomes of this meeting are mixed. While the framework and rule book have now been developed, it feels like more progress has been lost with the dropping out of the U.S. and others now denying and downplaying the science. While some of the elements in the agreement are required, having a system that is based on voluntary commitments seems unlikely to work. Like the old “tragedy of the commons” concept, it seems unlikely that without firm structure countries will do what it takes to tackle this major global issue.
I would like to see a unified data platform with consistent data points that all governments must report on like the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). The CDP is a non-profit global disclosure system that businesses and cities use to track and monitor GHG emissions in a comprehensive and collective way. If it was mandatory for world governments to utilize some sort of platform like this, I think it would really help get countries on track to reductions and make it easier to identify areas of improvement that countries could work together on. Without a strong focus on data transparency and governance it will be difficult to hold countries accountable that are not meeting their targets. I would really like to see less talk and more walk when it comes to climate solutions.
Author: Logan Callen
Busby, Joshua. 2018. “The latest global climate negotiations just finished. Here’s what happened.” The Washington Post, April 1, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/12/17/the-latest-global-climate-negotiations-just-finished-heres-what-happened/?arc404=true