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Katowice Climate Change Conference - December 2018

The Katowice Climate Change Conference opens Sunday and continues until 14 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland. During the meeting, all governing and subsidiary bodies of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement will convene. The Talanoa Dialogue will conclude its technical and political phases during this conference.

Expectations for the Meeting

This meeting is the deadline to finalize the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP), the details required to operationalize the 2015 Paris Agreement. Parties set themselves this deadline in 2016, after the historically rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement. Negotiations for the PAWP occur under the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), and the Ad HocWorking Group on the Paris Agreement(APA).

All the issues under the PAWP are under negotiation. Some of the main issues relate to the Paris Agreement’s cyclical and iterative nature, whereby parties submit or update their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) at five-year intervals, regularly report on progress under a transparency and accountability framework, and convene a global stocktake every five years to assess collective progress towards the Paris Agreement’s goals. Related discussions in the negotiations will focus on:

  • information that could improve the clarity, transparency, and understanding of NDCs (APA);
  • features of the NDCs (APA);
  • accounting for the NDCs (APA);
  • the transparency framework for action and support, which includes reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and financial support provided to and mobilized for developing countries (APA);
  • matters relating to the global stocktake (APA);
  • common timeframes for NDCs (SBI); and
  • modalities and procedures for the NDC registry (SBI).

Other important PAWP themes that will be discussed in Katowice include:

  • the committee to facilitate implementation and promote compliance under the Paris Agreement (APA);
  • accounting of financial resources provided and mobilized through public interventions (SBSTA);
  • recognizing developing countries’ adaptation efforts (SBI and SBSTA), and adaptation communications (APA)
  • the forum on the impact of the implementation of response measures (SBI and SBSTA); and
  • voluntary cooperation under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which includes market and non-market based approaches (SBSTA).

The UNFCCC Process

The international political response to climate change began with the 1992 adoption of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which sets out the basic legal framework and principles for international climate change cooperation with the aim of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of GHGs to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, has 197 parties.

In order to boost the effectiveness of the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in December 1997. It commits industrialized countries, and countries in transition to a market economy, to achieve quantified emissions reduction targets for a basket of six GHGs. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005 and has 192 parties. Its first commitment period took place from 2008 to 2012. The 2012 Doha Amendment established the second commitment period from 2013 to 2020. It will enter into force after reaching 144 ratifications. To date, 121 parties had ratified the Doha Amendment.  

In December 2015, parties adopted the Paris Agreement. Under the terms of the Agreement, all countries will submit NDCs, and aggregate progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation will be reviewed every five years through a global stocktake. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and, to date, 184 parties had ratified the Agreement.

Key Turning Points

Durban Mandate: The negotiating mandate for the Paris Agreement was adopted at the UN Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2011. Parties agreed to launch the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) with a mandate “to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties” no later than 2015, to enter into force in 2020. The ADP was also mandated to explore actions to close the pre-2020 ambition gap in relation to the 2°C target.

Lima: The UN Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, in 2014 adopted the “Lima Call for Climate Action,” which furthered progress on the negotiations towards the Paris Agreement. It elaborated the elements of a draft negotiating text and the process for submitting and synthesizing intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs), while also addressing pre-2020 ambition.

Paris: The 2015 UN Climate Change Conference convened in Paris, France, and culminated in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December. The Agreement includes the goal of limiting the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. It also aims to increase parties’ ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and make financial flows consistent with a pathway towards low GHG emissions and climate resilient development. The Agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.

Under the Paris Agreement, each party shall communicate, at five-year intervals, successively more ambitious NDCs. By 2020, parties whose NDCs contain a time frame up to 2025 are requested to communicate a new NDC and parties with an NDC time frame up to 2030 are requested to communicate or update these contributions.

Key features of the Paris Agreement include a transparency framework, and a process known as the global stocktake. Starting in 2023, parties will convene this process at five-year intervals to review collective progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation. The Agreement also includes provisions on adaptation, finance, technology, loss and damage, and compliance.

When adopting the Paris Agreement, parties launched the PAWP to develop the Agreement’s operational details, including through the APA, SBI, and SBSTA. They agreed to convene in 2018 a facilitative dialogue to take stock of collective progress towards the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals. This process is now known as the Talanoa Dialogue.

In Paris, parties also agreed on the need to mobilize stronger and more ambitious climate action by all parties and non-party stakeholders to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals. Building on the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, several non-party stakeholders made unilateral mitigation pledges in Paris, with more than 10,000 registered actions. Attention to actions by non-party stakeholders continued through the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, launched in 2016.

Marrakech: The UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech took place from 7-18 November 2016, and included the first Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1). Parties adopted several decisions related to the PAWP, including: that the work should conclude by 2018; the terms of reference for the Paris Committee on Capacity-building; and initiating a process to identify the information to be provided in accordance with Agreement Article 9.5 (ex ante biennial finance communications by developed countries). Other decisions adopted included approving the five-year workplan of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM), enhancing the Technology Mechanism, and continuing and enhancing the Lima work programme on gender.

Fiji/Bonn: The Fiji/Bonn Climate Change Conference convened from 6-17 November 2017 in Bonn, Germany, under the COP Presidency of Fiji. The COP launched the Talanoa Dialogue and established the “Fiji Momentum for Implementation,” a decision that gives prominence to pre-2020 implementation and ambition. The COP also provided guidance on the completion of the PAWP and decided that the Adaptation Fund shall serve the Paris Agreement, subject to decisions to be taken by CMA 1-3. Parties also further developed, or gave guidance to, the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, the Executive Committee of the WIM, the Standing Committee on Finance, and the Adaptation Fund.

Intersessional Highlights

SBSTA 48, SBI 48, APA 1-5: Many of the conclusions reached and decisions taken at this session from 30 April - 10 May 2018 in Bonn capture discussions on the PAWP, and agree to continue consideration of these issues. To assist in this endeavor, parties requested the APA Co-Chairs to prepare, by 1 August, “tools” to help with the development of an “agreed basis for negotiations.” A unique feature of the conference was the Talanoa Dialogue. In a process designed around the questions “Where are we?” “Where do we want to go?” and “How do we get there?” parties and stakeholders shared stories that will inform a synthesis report to be presented at the Katowice Climate Change Conference.

Bangkok additional negotiation session: Recognizing the need for additional time for negotiations, this meeting, held 3-9 September 2018, was devoted only to discussions related to the PAWP. The meeting’s “Bangkok outcome” captures progress made across these issues in a 307-page compilation, and mandates the presiding officers to undertake intersessional work to help advance parties’ deliberations towards the PAWP. At the close of the meeting, many characterized progress as “uneven.” Parties requested the presiding officers of the SBI, SBSTA, and APA to prepare a joint reflections note that identifies ways forward, including textual proposals.

IPCC 48: During this meeting, held from 1-6 October 2018, in Incheon, Republic of Korea, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change approved the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC (SR15). The report was prepared at the request of the UNFCCC in the decision that adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015. The report outlined the current effects of climate change, and the climate change impacts that could be avoided if global warming is limited to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC or more. To limit global warming to 1.5ºC, the report underlines the need for “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. The IPCC report will be an input to the Talanoa Dialogue.

COP 24 Pre-COP Ministerial Meeting: Ministers and delegates from 38 countries met 23-24 October 2018 in Krakow, Poland, to discuss the state of negotiations with the aim of facilitating the completion of the PAWP at COP 24. Participants discussed mitigation, adaptation, finance, and transparency and outlined areas of agreement and issues where there were outstanding questions, while noting that the Talanoa Dialogue will be a key outcome of the Katowice Climate Change Conference.

Further information


National governments
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