Today, the 24th meeting of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change began in Katowice, Poland. The goal of the two-week climate change conference is to establish guidelines for the implementation the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
„Countries’ success stories have an important role in establishing the rules of the agreement. The experiences of a small country can be used in larger ones, and then the effect is even greater. Estonians as creators, implementers and propagators of good and smart solutions can achieve a lot. A good example is the world-wide cleanup campaign “Let’s do it! 2018”, during which 158 countries across the world participated in a cleanup movement that began 10 years ago in Estonia,” said Siim Kiisler, Minister of the Environment.
Kiisler added that by today, Estonia has fulfilled the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as reached the renewable energy goal of 2020. At the same time, Estonia has established long-term policy guidelines for transitioning to a low-carbon economy, which means that the economy and energy system have to be gradually and purposefully transformed to be more resource-efficient, productive and environment-friendly. The goal for the year 2050 is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in Estonia by almost 80% compared to the level in 1990.
Estonia is represented by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas at the climate change conference’s opening ceremony for heads of state that takes place on 3 December. The following days will be dedicated to expert-level negotiations. On the second week of the conference, high-level meetings of ministers will take place, where Estonia is represented by Siim Kiisler, Minister of the Environment.
In 2015, 195 countries agreed in Paris upon a common goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to keep the increase in average temperature below 2°C and try to limit the increase in temperature to 1.5°C. Since the Paris Agreement was signed, a lot of work has been done in order to create the necessary rules (so-called Paris Rulebook) for its implementation. The Rulebook provides detailed information about the implementation of the Agreement.
Some of the most important decisions to be made during the two-week long conference are related to reporting, or in other words, how to check whether countries are trying to reach their climate goals and what happens when they cannot fulfil their promises. Another decision to be made is regarding the funding for activities related to alleviating climate change in developing countries and helping them to adapt to it.
Almost 30,000 participants will attend the conference; among them are heads of state, governmental authorities, and representatives of cities, companies, and associations.
• The Paris Agreement, signed in Paris in December 2015 by 195 countries, is the first multilateral agreement on climate change concerning the greenhouse gas emissions of almost the entire world. The main goal of the Agreement is to keep the rise of the world’s average temperature considerably below 2°C in the long perspective, and to try and limit the rise of the temperature to 1,5°C (compared to the time before the industrial revolution) and thereby keep the negative effects of the climate change under control.
• The Paris Agreement stipulates a dynamic mechanism that allows to evaluate and augment the taken obligations as well as funding for activities related to climate change and a long-term programme for adapting to the climate change.
• The average temperature in Europe has increased by almost 1°C during the last hundred years, and scientific data indicate that it will rise by 2–6.3°C by 2100, if the effects of climate change are not actively decreased and adjusted to.
• Scientists recommend keeping the world-wide increase in temperature below 1.5°C because even a 2°C increase in the temperature can have catastrophic consequences. According to various climate scenarios, the frequency of extreme weather conditions will increase, most probably entailing more frequent serious natural disasters. As a result of climate change, the temperature of dry land as well as seas will increase, the amount, intensity and distribution of precipitation will change, causing the average sea-level in the entire world to increase and resulting in possible coastal erosion. At the same time, the natural processes will change, the polar ice caps will melt, some areas (including Europe) will have less water and desertification will expand.
• Since 2017, Estonia has long-term policy guidelines for transitioning to a low-carbon economy, which means that the economy and energy system have to be gradually and purposefully transformed to be more resource-efficient, productive and environment-friendly, thus creating possibilities for advancing the economy as well as increasing the environmental protection. The goal for the year 2050 is to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in Estonia by almost 80% compared to the level in 1990.