COP24

As part of our ongoing update on the negotiations in Katowice, Poland during the COP24 discussions, we bring you the daily updates on discussions and the issues at stake.

International Energy Agency

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), carbon emissions from advanced economies are set to rise in 2018 for the first time in five years.  The IEA is involved in many events at the 24th Conference of the Parties, which is starting its second week.

“Our data shows that despite the strong growth in solar PV and wind, emissions have started to rise again in advanced economies, highlighting the need for deploying all technologies and energy efficiency,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director.

“This turnaround should be another warning to governments as they meet in Katowice this week. Increasing efforts are needed to encourage even more renewables, greater energy efficiency, more nuclear, and more innovation for technologies such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage and hydrogen (CCUS), for instance.

“It is one of a few options that can significantly reduce emissions from coal and gas power generation and deliver deep emissions reductions needed across key industrial processes such as steel, cement and chemicals manufacturing.”

“Without CCUS as part of the solution,” said Birol, “reaching our international climate goals is practically impossible.”

The role of coal

The role of coal is under scrutiny at the COP24 talks, particularly given the heavy reliance of Poland on the fossil fuel.

According to an article written by Dipka Bhambhani for Forbes, “the landing page of Poland’s website on COP24 talks about finding ways to use coal. The “Polish government is trying to create favorable conditions for the construction of a profitable, effective and modern hard coal mining sector, based on cooperation, knowledge, and innovation.”

Then too, the Trump administration is continuing to say that energy access and poverty reduction needs to happen with the addition of fossil fuels.  Supporting this discussion is George David Banks, President Trump’s former international energy and climate advisor, who believes that “environmentalists don’t understand energy markets and they want to believe that we can simply replace fossil fuels with renewables.”

Some have used the high cost of the energy transition in Germany as an example of rhetoric vs actions. The move from nuclear to renewable energy in the wake of the Fukushima accident in 2011 meant that ultimately Germany had to move to imported coal.

According to Bhambhani in 2016, “Germany imported more than 90% of its coal, nearly 17% from the US.”

Barry Worthington, executive director of the US Energy Association says: “These are the realities beyond the rhetoric at climate change conferences. Sometimes delegations are deaf to the practicality of fossil fuels, or a world where fossil fuels coexist with renewables. But Americans will bring that message of practicality and diversity of resources.”

Politico has an interesting take on the relationship between coal and Poland here

Splitting hairs

In a move that has been called ‘disgraceful’ by some, the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia “took a key scientific report out of the Katowice text, replacing acknowledgement of the report’s compelling case for accelerated action, with a more ambiguous formulation which merely notes the report’s existence,” says reneweconomy.com.au

Apparently, the four nations objected to the report being ‘welcomed’ by the UN, with Saudi Arabia, in particular, insisting that it only be ‘noted’ that the report exists.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5°C report “states in plain language that averting a climate crisis will require a wholesale reinvention of the global economy.” According to the Guardian, “The UN climate conference commissioned the IPCC report, but when that body went to “welcome” the report’s findings and commit to continuing its work, four nations – the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia, all major oil and gas producers – refused to accept the wording, insisting instead that the convention simply “note” the findings.”

Australia has been accused by some attendees as tacitly supporting the stance taken by the four nations due to its complete silence during the protracted and heated debate. “Australia’s silence in the face of this attack yesterday shocked many countries and is widely seen as de facto support for the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait’s refusal to welcome the IPCC report,” Dr Bill Hare, the managing director of Climate Analytics and a lead author on previous IPCC reports told Guardian Australia.

“The fossil fuel interest – coal, oil and gas – campaign against the IPCC 1.5 report and science continues to play out in the climate talks, but even those countries are being hit by the impacts of only one degree of warming,” Hare continued.

Australia’s emissions increased by 1.3% over the past quarter.

The desire to ‘welcome’ the report was led by the Maldives, supported by the EU, the bloc of 47 least developed countries, the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, African, American and European nations, and Pacific countries such as the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

There are others who say that the report doesn’t express the danger strongly enough and that it doesn’t take into account the impact global warming is and has already had. They specifically reference the increase in severe storms, drought and heat waves. It has been predicted that the overall increase by the end of the century could be as high as 4-5% [World Meteorological Organisation Secretary-General Petteri Taalas], an amount that is believed to the incompatible for maintaining human civilisation.