published on 3 December 2018 in air

COP24, the most eagerly awaited meeting on climate, gets off to a start

The Conference of the Parties promoted by the United Nations on climate change, COP 24, has begun in the Polish city of Katowice. The Climate Summit’s inaugural message was clear: the threat to the climate has never been so urgent. Representatives of 198 countries will be engaged, up until 14 December, in two weeks of negotiations aiming to approve rules to implement the Paris Agreement, due to become operative in 2020. In fact, governments must take action, committing to aligning, by 2020, their national plans on climate with the aim of maintaining the average global temperature increase below 2°C – if possible limiting it to 1.5°C.

The warnings that arrive from the scientific community, and in particular from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environmental Plan (UNEP), are very clear:

  • If the temperature increase continues at the present rate, global warming is expected to exceed the 1.5°C limit between 2030 and 2052: this makes a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions exceedingly urgent.
  • Levels of CO2 have reached a new record: emissions in 2017 are estimated at 405.5 parts per million (ppm), a level never before reached in the atmosphere in the past 3/5 million years. Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere in 2015 were 400.1 ppm.
  • This year, 2018, is heading towards becoming the fourth warmest year ever: the twenty hottest years were recorded in the past 22 years.
  • The “UNEP Emission Gap” report reveals that countries must quintuple reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve the 1.5°C target.

The meeting in Poland is considered to be fundamental because it is expected that a package of decisions will be made based on three cornerstones: adoption of the “Rulebook”, that is the guidelines to make the Paris Agreement operational; the commitment of governments to step up current levels of CO2 reduction (NDCs – Nationally Determined Contributions) by 2020; sufficient funding for poorer and more vulnerable countries to help them honour their commitments for reductions of emissions and succeed in adapting to the climate changes that are in progress.

With the sponsorship of the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research
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