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Editorial: COP24 agreement on Paris accord rulebook a step forward

The 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), held in Katowice, Poland, has approved a rulebook for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the international framework to fight global warming from 2020 onward.

We would like to praise the fact that advanced and developing countries overcame their differences and reached the agreement. The approval has paved the way for the full implementation of the Paris Agreement starting in 2020 as planned. The result of the meeting holds significant meaning for the future of humankind.

The Paris accord provides that all signatory nations set voluntary goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pursue countermeasures. It was left to COP 24 to determine detailed rules for their implementation, and developing countries were seeking more lenient application of the rules than for advanced countries.

The negotiations faced serious challenges, but the participants ultimately agreed to apply a single stringent set of rules for all countries regarding setting reduction goals and verification of efforts to meet the objectives. This arrangement is expected to promote developing countries' measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Meanwhile, in regards to the enhanced financial support that developing countries were pushing for, it was determined that advanced countries would report their expected contribution goals every two years.

Advanced and developing countries apparently reached middle ground as a result of their desire to encourage the move toward a world with less carbon in the face of U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement of his country's departure from the Paris Accord.

Another focus of the international gathering was whether it would be possible to create the momentum needed for countries to raise their reduction goals. It was unfortunate that a clear agreement on the issue was not reached, due to opposition from the U.S., Russia and other oil-producing countries.

The Paris Accord's goal is to cap the rise of the world's average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius from levels recorded in the pre-Industrial Revolution era. Under current conditions, however, a temperature rise of around 3 degrees cannot be avoided even if all reduction goals announced by the agreement's signatories are met.

Advanced and developing nations are required to cooperate and make additional efforts to close the gap between a 2-degree rise and a 3-degree rise, based on the latest agreement on the Paris Agreement rulebook.

Positive factors in this regard include corporate efforts to develop relevant technologies to cash in on the global trend toward cutting back on carbon emissions, and the rapid shift in energy sources from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Even the Trump administration will not be able to ignore these trends.

The United Nations will hold a climate summit in September next year and invite world leaders to attend, with the expectation that they will strengthen their countries' emission cut goals. Prior to the event, a Group of 20 summit of major economies will be held in Japan under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Tokyo must show a positive attitude toward further cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions to make the climate summit a success.

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