The impact of climate change – fires, flooding, droughts and deforestation – is already affecting people around the world, according to META, the news channel of the European Environmental Bureau. However, a declaration in the final days of climate talks in Poland could be a sign that all is not lost.

To make the landmark 2015 Paris climate deal a reality, governments from around the world are in Katowice, Poland for two weeks of UN talks.

As reported by META, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the negotiations have so far been a failure and the talks have also been widely slated for being sponsored by coal companies.

But late on December 13, the 26 governments and the EU’s representative at the talks, Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, made a commitment to increase their climate targets by 2020 in response to the alarming findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that climate change’s impact is more severe than was previously thought.

The IPCC scientists said that “far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” are essential to keep the world under 1.5 degrees of global warming.

Campaigners welcomed the declaration, with Wendel Trio, the Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe saying that the “spirit of Paris is back”.

The Paris climate agreement was brokered in 2015 and governments made the landmark commitment to keep global temperature rise well below 2°C and to aim to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.  Now the aim of the Katowice talks is to get down to the nitty-gritty and for countries to make solid commitments on how they will make the Paris agreement a reality.

“The statement will boost greater ambition at the crunch time of these so far underwhelming talks,” said Trio. “We welcome the fact that many European countries take the IPCC report seriously and want to scale up action to fight climate change.”

Trio added that “for the EU this must mean a commitment to significantly increase its 2030 target by 2020, even beyond the 55% reduction some Member States and the European Parliament are calling for” and for countries that have not yet signed up to the ‘higher ambition coalition’ to “stop ignoring the science”.

Now, it is up to EU governments to submit a 10-year ‘energy and climate’ plan to the European Commission – a so-called ‘National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP)’ containing the targets, policies and measures they will put in place to support the shift to a low carbon and resilient economy.

Roland Joebstl, Senior Policy Officer for Energy and Climate at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said: “A net-zero economy is essential to avoid climate breakdown. We can slash the waste of energy, move to renewables and achieve a circular economy as part of making our society climate resilient. Ministers have a moral duty to up ambition and put forward climate plans that are in line with net-zero – time is, literally, running out.”

This article is based on an article appeared on META – the news channel of the European Environmental Bureau: https://meta.eeb.org/2018/12/13/eleventh-hour-climate-hope-at-katowice-talks/