Diplomats from nearly 200 countries concluded a deal at the weekend in Katowice, Poland that will keep the Paris Climate Agreement alive by keeping Washington, for the time being, on board with the general tenets of the agreement that the US agreed to when the deal was first signed by the Barack Obama administration in 2015.
The agreement includes a global set of standards for measuring global warming and tracking climate policy and calls on rich nations to help install clean energy and build resilience against natural disasters in the developing world.
The United States is a signatory to the agreement and remains binding for Washington until 2020, although President Donald J. Trump has vowed to abandon the deal after questioning the scientific basis for global warming.
Most delegates at the conference wanted to endorse a UN scientific report on climate change which argues that fuel emissions had to be cut by 50% over 12 years or the Earth’s climate would face irreversible disruption. That report was fiercely opposed by the US, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.
Meanwhile, US State Department officials were negotiating behind the scenes for a single reporting mechanism for carbon emissions, opposing China’s call for two sets of reporting mechanisms – one for developed and one for developing nations.
“The US got a clear methodology to make sure that China and India are meeting their targets,” said Jake Schmidt, the director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The signatories to the Paris Climate Agreement committed to limiting the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to avoid rising sea levels and widespread food shortages.
Following the December 15 agreement, it is up to individual countries to proceed with more ambitious emission targets.
Resistance to the Agreement has been felt in Europe from countries like Poland, which is the biggest coal producer in Europe. Germany has invested heavily in coal-fired plants and is only now entering the race to develop electric batteries.
Of the 200 signatories to Saturday’s agreement, only Chile, Vietnam, and Norway have committed to more ambitious targets.