KATOWICE, Poland (Reuters) - Talks billed as the most important U.N. conference since the Paris 2015 deal on climate change are nearing the end of a first week in the Polish city of Katowice, the capital of the Silesian mining district.
The aim is to make an end-of-year deadline for agreeing a rule book on how to enforce global action to limit further warming of the planet.
Below is a flavour of the mood around the event, held in a sprawl of temporary passageways and meeting rooms next to the “Spodek”, a flying-saucer-shaped sports and concert venue.
1110 GMT - 2018 Nobel Economics prize winner William Nordhaus has called on countries at the COP 24 conference to rethink their approach to fighting climate change, saying voluntary agreements were doomed to failure.
Limiting global warming to 2 degrees is achievable if nations agree binding targets and face penalties for failing to meet them.
“It’s not that it’s not technologically and economically feasible, it’s that we don’t have the political will and consensus to do it,” Nordhaus told Reuters correspondent Simon Johnson in Stockholm.
“I would focus on a carbon price, say $40 to $50 a tonne and then countries could decide how they wanted to do that - they could do cap and trade, they could do a carbon tax.”
Negotiations continue to clean up a messy text ahead of Saturday’s deadline to have a document ready for ministers to fight over in the second and final week of the conference.
Negotiators say there has been progress, but it’s slow and, as ever, finance is a big stumbling block.
After a series of reports documenting the widening gap between greenhouse gas emissions and action to reduce them, Michal Kurtyka, the Polish leader of the talks, said this had given rise to an in-joke among negotiators.
Before a day off on Sunday, and the arrival of ministers on Monday, the aim is to cut down the number of options in a draft of about 300 pages so ministers will have less work to finalise a deal.
“The joke right now is ‘Narrow the gap’,” he said.
The latest reports show continued use of fossil fuel means global carbon emissions are expected to rise again this year following on from an increase in 2017.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were roughly flat from 2014-16, which inspired hopes that emissions had peaked in 2013.
While the talks drag on behind the closed doors of the conference centre, there’s no missing the sound of newly-mined coal rumbling down chutes some 50 km up the road.
JSW, the European Union’s biggest coking coal miner, has plans to expand, possibly with Chinese money, and says coking coal, used in steel, has decades of rosy future ahead of it.
Reporting by Barbara Lewis, Anna Koper, Catherine Macdonald; Editing by Kevin Liffey