“Time to reflect on how each of us can act”

Published 21 December 2018 in:

Photo: Fredrik Schlyter/imagebank.sweden.se

The UN climate summit, COP24, in Katowice is over. What was agreed? And what is the path ahead? We talked to Swedish Climate Ambassador, Lars Ronnås, and chief negotiator, Johanna Lissinger Peitz, to hear their thoughts.

In the Paris Agreement, governments set the goal of keeping the increase in global average temperature well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. In Katowice, a common rulebook of 133 pages was adopted that outlines how countries are to plan, communicate, implement, report and follow up on their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

For Sweden’s Climate Ambassador, Lars Ronnås, the rulebook is a sign of the success of international cooperation in tackling climate change.

He says: “Getting more than 180 states parties to agree on such detailed rules is quite an achievement for multilateral cooperation.”

Johanna Lissinger Peitz agrees, and says that many of the negotiators felt that these were more difficult negotiations than those in Paris three years ago.

She says: “It was so incredibly complex, particularly considering several major countries have directly or indirectly stated that they plan to pull out of the Paris Agreement. I believe it was important for credibility, not only for the Paris Agreement but also for multilateral cooperation, that we could actually deliver and come to an agreement – an agreement on something good!”

The rulebook strengthens the principle that all finance flows must be sustainable and support the fight against climate change. According to the rulebook, developed countries need to spearhead this transition. Agreement was also reached on how climate financing to developing countries can be more predictable and tailored to their needs.

Lars Ronnås explains: “The European Union played a key role as a bridge-builder, using its strength as an ambitious global actor and strong supporter of climate action in third countries, notably in the field of climate finance. In this context, Swedish Minister Isabella Lövin and chief negotiator Johanna Lissinger Peitz were instrumental in finding solutions to contentious issues.”

Johanna Lissinger Peitz, who spent two weeks in Katowice, adds: “Sweden has very high credibility when it comes to combining ambitious environmental climate policy and efforts with a strong message on being able to support the countries that need it most.”

At the end of the conference, Sweden announced that it will contribute SEK 100 million to the Adaptation Fund and the Least Developed Countries Fund.

“This is not just about two weeks of negotiations, it is a long-term commitment to pursue climate issues,” says Johanna Lissinger Peitz.

COP24 was also about mobilising momentum for higher ambitions – a task that is to continue next year. In September 2019, the UN Secretary-General will convene a climate summit to mobilise political support for higher ambitions and accelerate transformative actions towards low-carbon economies worldwide.

Lars Ronnås concludes: “Translating commitments into action requires leaders – in governments, business, cities and civil society – to come together and demonstrate that it is indeed possible to bend the emission curve downwards.”

“COP24 in Katowice ended just before Christmas, and I am reminded that this festival is not – and should not be – a time for a spending spree, but a time to reflect on how each of us can act to bring hope for a better future.”

Lars Ronnås, Swedish Ambassador for Climate Change. Photo: Kristian Pohl.

Lars Ronnås, Swedish Climate Ambassador. Photo: Kristian Pohl.

Johanna Lissinger Peitz, Chief Negotiator. Photo: Moa Haeggblom.

Johanna Lissinger Peitz, Chief Negotiator. Photo: Moa Haeggblom.