United Nations conference agrees on rules to govern Paris climate agreement

COP24: Nations agree on global climate pact rules after impasse

COP24 President Michal Kurtyka speaks during a final session of the COP24 U.N. Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland.

The Paris agreement is to limit global warming to well below two degrees compared to pre-industrial levels, a maximum of 1.5 degrees.

After an all-night session in the southern city of Katowice, the 24th annual United Nations -sponsored event agreed on standards to report greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to reduce them.

The result of the tortured negotiations in the Polish city of Katowice is a 156-page rulebook on how countries will report and monitor their national pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions and update their emissions plans.

Climate Change Minister James Shaw, who was co-facilitating some of the talks, told reporters this morning that the newly agreed rulebook was "a breakthrough".

"The overall guidance reflects the principles of the Paris Agreement and recognises the leadership that developed countries have to display for achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement", the statement said.

The decision text now merely expresses gratitude for the work on the report, welcomes its timely completion and invites parties to use the information in it. Among these issues is how to create a functioning carbon credit market.

Last week, the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait blocked the endorsement of a scientific report on a key element of the Paris climate agreement: capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), if possible.

Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the talks created "a solid foundation for implementation and strengthening" of the Paris agreement and could help bring the US back into the deal by a future presidential administration. He noted that breakthrough in the 2015 Paris talks happened only after the US and China agreed on a common framework for transparency.

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When it came to closing potential loopholes that could allow countries to dodge their commitments to cut emissions, "the US pushed harder than almost anyone else for transparency rules that put all countries under the same system, and it's largely succeeded", Diringer said. The decisions were "1,000 small steps forward", he said.

At their heart, negotiations were about how each nation funds action to mitigate and adapt to climate change, as well as how those actions are reported. "You can't come together and say you can't do more!".

"The foundations of the rules are still the Paris Agreement, which remains as strong as ever", she added.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday waded into the debate over the costs of tackling climate change, telling Fox News that if he had remained in the Paris climate accord the U.S.

Delegates at the COP24 said China has been at the forefront of the challenging negotiations, working hard with various parties to untangle some of the key points of contention.

Thanks to increased investment in green energy, China's carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of output, had declined by 46 percent by 2017 from 2005, meeting ahead of schedule its target a 40-45 percent drop by 2020, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

At the 11th hour, ministers also managed to break a deadlock between Brazil and other countries over the accounting rules for the monitoring of carbon credits.

A recent scientific report found that capping global warming at that level would prevent many potentially catastrophic consequences for life on Earth.

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