Dec 15, 2018 - Energy & Environment

Dire projections overshadow climate deal

Patricia Espinosa, Antonio Guterres and Luis Alfonso de Alba during the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018. Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

KATOWICE, Poland — World leaders wrapped up prolonged and difficult talks here late Saturday with agreement on guidelines aimed at implementing the 2015 Paris climate pact.

Why it matters: Failure to reach a deal on the so-called rulebook at these annual United Nations talks would have been a major setback for the 2015 pact that's already under strain by the planned U.S. withdrawal and other forces.

Where it stands: The negotiators agreed to a set of rules governing reporting their emissions and detailing climate policies, while delaying a decision affecting carbon markets.

The big picture: Multiple reports about the dire projected impacts of climate change shaped this conference’s narrative over the past two weeks, which the UN hosts in different cities each year.

But these particular negotiations were always about working out wonky details of the 2015 deal. Countries largely accomplished this, without big interference by the Trump administration or other nations resistant to aggressive action cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Flashback: In the biggest snafu of the negotiations held in this old coal mining city, the U.S. joined Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait last weekend in refusing to "welcome" a recent landmark UN report on climate change, prompting outrage among other nations.

  • The final text of the negotiations "welcomes" the completion of the report, but not the report itself, per Climate Home News. It's a subtle distinction that matters a lot in diplomacy like this.

What’s next: The next big political moment will be in September, when the UN holds a summit in New York where nations will be expected to say what they have done or plan to do to ramp up their commitments to the 2015 deal, according to Alden Meyer, an expert on these issues with the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists.

  • Chile will host the 2019 UN global climate conference.

Go deeper, highlights from the our coverage:

Go deeper, with other news coverage: Washington Post and Climate Home News.

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