As it happened: Final scramble for deal at climate talks in Poland


22:56 – Megan Darby – The Paris Agreement lives

As country speeches continue, people start to trickle out of the room. Our wrap of the outcome is up. The verdict: it is a more comprehensive deal than many expected and a win for multilateralism against the odds BUT more political leadership will be needed to fulfil the promise of the Paris Agreement.

That is all for the live blog today. To get essential news and analysis on international climate politics, sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Good night from Katowice!

22:38 – Megan Darby – Countries react

The deal is done, but of course nobody got everything they wanted. Countries have a chance to flag up issues they want to push for as the process grinds on.

Egypt starts, representing the G77 + China group of developing countries. “As we all congratulate ourselves on a job very well done… we unfortunately do not see the level of balance that we have all called for.” The bloc would like to see more focus on adapting to the impacts of climate change, compared to cutting emissions.

EU next, citing the UN science report on 1.5C and calling for “decisive action” to meet the tougher temperature limit agreed in Paris.

Climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete speaks fast, commenting on the different elements of the rulebook. A clock on the big screens reveals the EU has gone over its 3-minute time limit all the same.

21:58 – Megan Darby – ‘It is so decided’

The room holds its breath as India intervenes to express reservations about the structure of the 5-yearly global stocktake – then sighs with relief when the negotiator adds that it will put that objection in writing and not sink the deal.

The gavel drops and the rulebook to bring the Paris Agreement to life is agreed. Cheers and applause.

21:47 – Megan Darby – NGOs are calling it

As Kurtyka gavels through some of the smaller decisions, press releases from campaign groups start dropping into inboxes.

Most of the NGOs here coordinate through the Climate Action Network and issue their reaction statements at the same time. The fact they are calling it shows they expect the presidency’s text to be adopted.

“No one is entirely happy with this rulebook, but it is an important step,” says Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief. “The foundations of the rules are still the Paris Agreement, which remains as strong as ever. Next year is critical. The 2019 UNSG summit offers all governments the opportunity to report on progress towards new, enhanced targets by 2020. A Latin American COP hosted by Chile in partnership with Costa Rica will also bring new energy and new urgency to these talks. Two clean energy leaders on the frontline of climate change.  We look forward to their leadership.”

21:31 – Megan Darby – A minute’s silence for Ditas

There are cheers and applause as Cop24 president Michal Kurtyka opens the plenary. Then laughter, as the camera lands on somebody yawning widely.

“Last night was a long night… I appreciate your patience and understanding,” says Kurtyka.

He then calls a minute’s silence in memory of Bernaditas Muller, the veteran Filipina negotiator who just died. Everybody stands.

21:22  Megan Darby – This is happening

China’s Xie Zhenhua has walked in with his entourage, so I think they mean it this time. The webcast is live.

21:09 – Megan Darby – T-10 minutes

There are cheers in the plenary hall after an official announces the plenary will start in 10 minutes. Here is the compilation text they will be discussing – 133 pages of it.

20:23 – Megan Darby – Turkey acts up

Well, clearly I spoke too soon. Apparently Turkey is using everyone’s desperation to go home as leverage for its pet peeve: changing its official status as a developed country.

Regular readers will recall they raised this same issue on the first day of talks, delaying the opening plenary by two hours.

Whether the result of a clerical error or a misguided negotiating strategy – see this article in Scientific American by Lisa Friedman for context – the country now finds itself ineligible for some sources of climate finance. It is understood to be in discussions with the secretariat on how to fix that.

While this is annoying for those stuck here until the bitter end, it should not fundamentally alter the outcome of the talks.

19:09 – Megan Darby – The end is in sight

Three sources tell us the negotiation over article six, the carbon trading piece, has been resolved. Everyone agreed it was best to defer the substantive decisions to 2019, but the question was what parameters to put on that debate. There was some convergence in the final days of this summit, so should they pick up where they left off or start from scratch? We will have more on the battles to come after this is all over.

In a tweet thread, Nat Keohane from Environmental Defense Fund explained that the impasse need not deter countries from trading carbon in the meantime. Negotiators anticipated this in Paris and “Brazil-proofed” the language, he said.

You can find background on Brazil’s attachment to a carbon market approach that lost favour with the rest of the world in this EDF blog.

Without wishing to jinx it, this should clear the way for the full rulebook to go to the plenary.

15:59 – Megan Darby – Carbon trading talks drag on

The carbon market section of the rulebook – article 6 – will certainly be deferred to 2019, EU commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete tells CHN, but they are still negotiating under what conditions.

The plenary has been deferred to 18:00.

14:34 – Megan Darby – The full text is out

The presidency has published a compilation of all the Paris Agreement rulebook proposals, which run to 160 pages.

It includes a section on the contentious article 6 rules, addressing carbon markets and trading.

There is a low hum of chatter in the plenary hall as delegates file in. Are they ready to do a deal? “Let’s hope, let’s hope,” says Spain’s energy and environment minister Teresa Ribera, looking cheerful enough.

13:09 – Megan Darby As civil society observers waited for the last pieces of the deal to emerge, they offered a tentative verdict on what is out so far.

There appears to have been convergence on two of the traditionally difficult issues: finance and differentiation. The draft text goes a long way to meet developing countries’ asks for more predictability of finance and initiates a process for setting a higher climate finance goal post-2025. Rules on how to account for finance flows after the fact are taking longer to emerge, though, and there is always a risk the issue could be reopened if there is disagreement in other areas.

There is agreement on uniform guidelines for counting greenhouse gas emissions, with self-determined flexibility. If poorer countries do not feel able to meet the standards, they are expected to explain why and set out a plan for building up their capacity.

The last-hour wrangling is over carbon markets (article 6) and the political signals on raising ambition.

Kicking carbon markets to 2019 is far from ideal, said campaigners, but better than accepting the latest version, which was riddled with loopholes. The standoff is between Brazil and a broad coalition of European and climate-vulnerable countries. Brazil is heavily invested in the old clean development mechanism and wants to carry over those projects and a similar approach into the Paris Agreement, while the latter group sees it as unacceptably flawed. As Jair Bolsonaro takes the Brazilian presidency, the political fight is unlikely to get any easier next year.

13:01 – Karl Mathiesen The plenary, which was scheduled for 1pm has been pushed again. At this stage, we are not going to give any more updates on when the final meeting may begin because it’s just too emotional.

12:43 – Karl Mathiesen An advance final decision for the conference, sent to CHN, sees a few important steps forward.

This is a big moment for the Polish presidency. Its the overarching final message from these talks and covers many contentious areas.

“It’s a set of quite elegant compromises but it depends on how it interacts with other elements [of the negotiations] and how the parties want to play it,” says Camilla Born, from E3G.

For example, the document “welcomes” the “timely completion” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on a report on the effect of 1.5C warming. This is a compromise between progressive and island countries and Saudi Arabia, the US, Russia and Kuwait, who resisted welcoming the report on Saturday.

Vulnerable states are trading the full acclamation of the findings of the IPCC with other parts of the rulebook of the Paris Agreement, such as the inclusion of language on the loss and damage caused by climate change.

Draft decision by Karl Mathiesen on Scribd


12:26 – Karl Mathiesen The long goodbye that is Brexit continues. Many have wondered whether Britain and the EU would continue to negotiate together at the UNFCCC after the country leaves the union next year. Maybe not.

In a now-deleted tweet, European Commission climate advisor Isaac Valero said the UK delegation made a speech to delegates in the EU coordination meeting saying it may be their last. The speech was met with sustained applause, he said.


12:21 – Soila Apparicio My first UN climate conference is almost over, and it’s been quite an experience; a mixture of excitement and exhaustion. The overwhelming feeling I’ve got from these talks is how important it is for everyone here that we work together to combat climate change.

And if you’ve ever wondered what a Cop is like, I walked through the conference for our Copcast podcast, describing the sights and sounds of the conference in Katowice.


11:14 – Megan Darby – Waiting for the package

Observers say around 70% of the text has been published, including provisions on finance, but the decision text on how to raise ambition is missing.

There is agreement to start work on setting a new climate finance goal for 2025, a key ask of developing countries, tweeted Brandon Wu of Christian Aid – but the details of how they count it are also critical.

10:34 – Karl Mathiesen – Markets impasse

The diabolical issue of markets and the use of carbon credits to reach national targets is likely to be pushed until next year, according to one source in the talks. If done wrong, the highly technical package is susceptible to gaming that could lead to huge double counting of emissions. See my colleague Megan’s block on this from 19:13 yesterday.

According to the source, the Polish presidency will propose that the whole set of rules be put on ice until next year’s conference. Brazil has been the loudest advocate for rules that could open loopholes.

9:34 – Karl MathiesenWe are back on hold, with the Polish presidency shifting the plenary meeting back to noon. But MAC’s confident…

8:54 – Karl Mathiesen Tributes for Bernaditas ‘Ditas’ de Castro Muller, who died overnight. The Filipina diplomat was always formidable and widely admired by those who negotiated against her since the very first climate conferences of the early 1990s. She was known as one of the strongest voices in favour of the developing world.

(Photo: Twitter)

The UN climate process is, at its heart, a rather small travelling band of people who get to know each other very well. This humanity is part of the strength of the institution.


Saturday 15 Dec, 7:46 CET – Karl Mathiesen – More delays overnight meant little action. The latest draft of the Paris rulebook is emerging in parts. There will supposedly be a plenary at 10am. That’s where the meeting will try to adopt the rules by consensus. However the final stage of UN climate meetings is unfailingly contentious and dramatic as countries use the public forum of the plenary to stage last minute interventions and wring advantage from other, sleep-starved diplomats.

The way the meeting treats an October report by the UN’s climate scientists on the effects of 1.5C warming is likely to be one of this flashpoints, with bruised feelings on both sides after the Saudis, Russians, US and Kuwaitis refused a push from island nations to “welcome” the findings last Saturday. The people are pessimistic:

23:48 – If you haven’t seen 15-year-old Greta Thunberg’s speech this week at the UN summit, it’s quite something.

“You are not mature enough to tell it like it is, even that burden you leave to us children.”

23:14 – Karl Mathiesen We are on hold here in Katowice. With the Polish presidency signalling that “several days of intensive work” has led to some of the rules being finalised. There is now a new text due at 1am local time and a plenary to finish the meeting planned for 4am. We’ll be there. Although things are entirely fluid, so don’t hold your breath dear friends.

In the meantime, listen to our latest podcast where experts and ministers tell us why this is dragging on so long and Marshall Islands environment minister David Paul asks the question on everyone’s lips: “I don’t know who invented brackets, why brackets?”

19:55 – Megan Darby – Chile to host next year

The plenary has started, but only to deal with some of the administrative issues while the political fights continue elsewhere.

After a fortnight of speculation, Chile has been confirmed as president of next year’s UN climate summit. Costa Rica, which was also a contender, is to host the pre-Cop25 meeting of key ministers.

Chile has a strong reputation for international diplomacy, according to Brown University’s Guy Edwards, but will have to take care not to get sidetracked by the political crises in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

The country is developing a coal phase-out plan and is top of Bloomberg’s Climatescope ranking for attractiveness to clean energy investors. A draft climate change law is due in June 2019.

However, analysts at Climate Action Tracker rate its economy-wide emissions target “highly insufficient” and it has delayed signing the Escazú Agreement, a regional deal meant to protect environmental defenders.

19:45 – Sara Stefanini – Kurtyka’s update: no news

Poland’s Cop24 president Michał Kurtyka held a press huddle to give an update on the progress in the talks. But, in just under two minutes, he gave little away.

The Poles spent the day consulting with parties about its draft text, and everyone is working hard to “solve outstanding issues” and “find the balanced package”, he said. “We will be informing you as soon as we have more advancement.”

19:13 – Megan Darby – Crunch time for carbon markets

The plenary was due to start ten minutes ago, but there is no sign of an updated text and sources expect the substantive discussion to be delayed again.

Ministers are piling into closed meetings on Article 6, the section of the agreement dealing with carbon markets and trading across borders.

This one worries the wonks. The idea is to give countries flexibility to meet some of their emissions targets by investing in low carbon projects overseas. In principle, this can spur more private sector activity and lead to deeper, cheaper carbon cuts, but it is fraught with issues.

Earlier in the year, Environmental Defense Fund warned certain loopholes could, if fully exploited, allow billions of tonnes of emissions – equivalent to the carbon footprint of the US and China combined – to be double counted. That would create an illusion of progress while blowing the Paris Agreement temperature targets.

Experts tell CHN the latest text addresses some concerns about the system’s environmental integrity, but could still allow significant double counting. Brazil and the Arab Group in particular are said to be pushing for looser rules to benefit their industries.

Technical negotiators are biting their nails about how ministers, who cannot be expected to understand all the minutiae, will land this complex matter.

18:31 – Sara Stefanini – Hac attack

The so-called ‘high ambition coalition’ of developed and developing countries drummed up some fervour with a press conference crowded into a tiny room.

Without getting into the weeds of wording or dates in the draft text, Marshall Islands environment minister David Paul said the group has three main asks:

1) The UN’s scientific report on the impacts of a 1.5C rise in the global temperature should be “front and centre” of the Cop24 decision and “guide future work”.

2) It should give a clear signal that countries will boost their pledges for tackling climate change “coming out of this Cop”.

3) The rulebook should implement the Paris Agreement in full.

“All decisions of the Cop should gravitate around the fact that we need to commit strongly to 1.5C, we need to deeply review all climate commitments from every single country that responds to that, and we need to be solid and coherent in the message we want to send this week,” said Costa Rican environment minister Carlos Manuel Rodriguez.

Other members included Canada, Germany, Norway, Grenada, Austria and the Maldives, along with the European Commission and the bloc of least developed countries.

17:46 – Karl Mathiesen – Why are things so stuck? Driven more by sheer desperation to one day see my loved ones again than by journalistic curiosity, I went to talk to Camilla Born from the think tank E3G to find out what is taking so long.

Although there is broad agreement on many aspects of the draft Paris rulebook released in the early hours of Friday many countries are still unhappy with aspects of the text.

The sticking points include:

  • Whether the damage caused by climate change is accounted for when countries submit their climate reports to the UN. This is something vulnerable countries desperately want because it will pile pressure on the developed world to assist. The US has traditionally resisted all mentions of so-called ‘loss and damage’ and by many accounts that continues.
  • The date by which all countries will be brought under the same system of rules. China and other emerging economies want this pushed until 2026, according to two sources. The EU wants it to be 2022. It was 2024 in the last text. This has an element of political intrigue, says Born, because if China is on a different rule track for six years, that might affect the willingness of the US to reenter the Paris deal (if Trump pulls them out and if he loses the 2020 election).
  • What to do about the IPCC special report on 1.5C. This issue blew up on Saturday night. Many countries are unhappy with text that simply “notes” the findings of the UN’s major climate science contribution of the past few years. A compromise will need to be reached with the US and some oil producing states that blocked the conference from “welcoming” the work of the scientists.

16:48 – Megan DarbyLeaders from the Maldives, Grenada and Ethiopia held a press conference setting out their red lines and describing themselves as an “emergency coalition”.

“We are deeply unhappy with the way these talks are going,” said Maldives former president Mohamed Nasheed. “We are therefore rebelling against extinction and if necessary we will rebel against the negotiations.”

Asked if that meant they would veto an unsatisfactory deal, though, Nasheed said: “We will not give up, we will not walk out.”

Gebru Jember Endalew, representing the least developed countries, added: “Until the last minute we will fight for the right outcome, to increase ambition and have a strong rulebook in place.”

Their asks include clear acceptance of the UN’s 1.5C science blockbuster, climate-related loss and damage reflected throughout the text and quantitative targets in national climate pledges. The group had expressed their concerns in a meeting with UN chief Antonio Guterres and Cop24 president Michal Kurtyka today, Nasheed said.


15:03 – Sara StefaniniWhat happens now?

A whole lot of shuttle diplomacy, public posturing and uncertainty.

The Polish presidency has been running around meeting countries to gather views on the text it released early this morning, which it will try to distill into a next draft later today or tonight. A plenary meeting is scheduled for 15:00 (ie right now). But it has not started and, observers warned, it may well be delayed.

Meanwhile, a number of countries and blocs are expected to hold press conferences to vent any concerns and reiterate their positions over the next few hours.

While the idea of the summit ending on Friday is growing ever-more doubtful, some observers remain upbeat. “If countries are serious, well they can laugh and negotiate, but they can finish tonight,” said Laurence Tubiana, France’s ambassador at the 2015 Paris climate summit and CEO of the European Climate Foundation.

13:20 –  Sara Stefanini Germany came out swinging against Donald Trump on Friday, taking aim at his claim that pulling out of the Paris Agreement will save “trillions of dollars”.

“If we let entire stretches of this planet become uninhabitable, then it will trigger gigantic costs,” German environment minister Svenja Schulze said in Katowice, according to the Associated Press. Investing in clean technologies to stem climate change would give Germany “an enormous competitive advantage”, she added.

Reminder: the US has not technically withdrawn from the deal. The earliest it could is in November 2020.

13:08 – The UN secretary general’s special representative for sustainable energy Rachel Kyte had an entertaining chat with Megan Darby yesterday on our daily podcast, which birthed a metaphor we may come to regret…

Jo Tyndall is one of the co-chairs of a talks at which we have all grown old together.

Listen to the full interview here:


12:05 – Sara Stefanini – The last trade-off

How stringently the entire rulebook applies to countries like China remains an open and contentious question. Developed and least developed countries want it to be universal; emerging economies say they need more leniency than the rich side.

The landing ground looks to be moving towards universal rules in the mid-2020s, giving some time to prepare. But the option of a two-tier rulebook is still in the draft.

This issue – aimed at making sure countries are transparent about their work on climate change – is expected to remain on the table until the very end. Countries will want to know where they’ve had to make trade-offs before agreeing to how and when they’ll be subject to the rules.

Read the full story here.

11:18 (all times in CET) – It’s the final day of UN climate talks in Poland… supposedly.

After two weeks of attritional negotiating, governments meeting in the southern city of Katowice are trying to close a deal on the rules that will bring the Paris climate agreement to life.

Several iterations of the rulebook have been presented but there remain large areas of disagreement, represented by dreaded square brackets. That could push talks well into weekend.

Join Climate Home News’ team on the ground here at Cop24 – Megan Darby, Sara Stefanini, Natalie Sauer, Soila Apparicio and Karl Mathiesen – for updates, new details and reaction from the halls.

The first plenary of the day starts at 3pm CET.

Get in touch

Follow our team on Twitter at: @climatehome, @climatemegan, @sarastefaninii, @natalielsauer, @karlmathiesen, @soilasays

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