UN climate talks: progress and a call to strengthen national climate pledges

Posted on December, 15 2018

Attention shifts to UN Secretary General`s summit in 2019 to raise ambition.

Katowice, Poland (15 December 2018) – As the UN climate talks conclude, WWF welcomes progress in adopting a rulebook to operationalize the Paris Agreement and a signal from the COP on raising ambition, but remains deeply concerned that countries have yet to show the level of climate ambition needed to tackle the climate emergency.


“World leaders arrived in Katowice with the task of responding to the latest climate science which made clear that we only have 12 years to cut emissions in half and prevent catastrophic global warming. They’ve made important progress, but what we’ve seen in Poland reveals a fundamental lack of understanding by some countries of our current crisis. Luckily, the Paris Agreement is proving to be resilient to the storms of global geopolitics. Now we need all countries to commit to raising climate ambition before 2020, because everyone’s future is at stake,” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Leader of WWF’s Climate and Energy Practice.


This year’s talks send a signal for countries to increase their climate targets by 2020 as a response to the latest climate science, delivered by the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5℃. Key developed and developing nations have rallied in support of accelerating global efforts toward securing a climate safe future. The COP outcome highlights the high-level UN Secretary General climate summit planned for 23 September 2019 as a key opportunity for leaders to respond to COP24’s call for greater ambition by announcing or committing to updated and more ambitious national climate targets by 2020.


“This conference has placed a direct responsibility on leaders to arrive at September’s climate summit with improved climate targets or a commitment to deliver them by 2020. Anything less is a failure in political and moral leadership,” added Pulgar-Vidal.


This round of talks generated a working rulebook to operationalize the Paris Agreement, but critical gaps remain and will need to be addressed in future climate negotiations. A common set of rules governing the transparency and accounting on countries’ climate progress did make it across the finish line, providing some flexibility for developing countries.  


The outcome of these talks conclude with little clarity on how to account for the climate finance provided by developed countries to developing countries, how the $100 billion goal by 2020 will be met, or how the overall finance target for post-2025 will be agreed.


Questions about which countries would emerge as climate champions this conference were answered on Wednesday night with the reemergence of a “High Ambition Coalition.” The group that came together in Poland included the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Ethiopia, EU, Norway, UK, Canada, Germany,  New Zealand and Mexico, pledging to enhance their national climate plans before 2020 and increase both short and long term action.


Commenting on the leadership of vulnerable island nations at COP24, Fernanda Carvalho, Global Policy Manager, WWF Climate and Energy Practice, said:


“Climate change is already impacting people and nature. In leading by example and urging developed nations to do more, the world’s most vulnerable nations have made it clear that we have no time to waste. WWF welcomes initiatives such as the High Ambition Coalition and the Talanoa Call for Action.”


The 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the UNFCCC will take place in Chile in November, 2019, with the Pre-COP being held in Costa Rica.




For further information:

Scott Edwards, WWF International, sedwards@wwfint.org, +44 7887 954116


About WWF

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