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Climate Conference Notebook: Climate talks go into overtime

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By Reuters
Climate Conference Notebook: Climate talks go into overtime
FILE PHOTO - Participants take part in plenary session, during the final day of the COP24 U.N. Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice, Poland, December 14, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel   -   Copyright  KACPER PEMPEL(Reuters)

KATOWICE, Poland (Reuters) – Climate change talks billed as the most important U.N. conference since the 2015 Paris global warming deal are in their last week in Katowice, capital of Poland’s coal mining district.

Below is a look at the mood round the event, in a sprawl of temporary passageways and rooms next to the Spodek, a flying-saucer-shaped venue on the site of the former Katowice coal mine.


0930 GMT

The United Nations climate conference in the Polish city of Katowice went into overtime on Saturday after intensive shuttle diplomacy overnight by ministers, negotiators and delegates from nearly 200 countries trying to find common ground on rules to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Initially scheduled to end on Friday, the Polish presidency of the talks has several times postponed the final plenary session after it released a draft of the deal, as it holds last minute talks with various parties to smooth out differences.

A plenary has been scheduled for 1100 GMT on Saturday, while the time of a final joint closing session has been changed a few times in the last two hours.

One sticking point that has held up the negotiations is the issue of emissions counting cited in Article 6 of the Paris Agreement regarding market-based mechanisms to combat climate change. Under the article, countries should agree to rules to ensure they do not double count emissions reductions.

A senior negotiator told Reuters that Brazil was still obstructive on this issue and did not want clear rules to prevent double counting, which is unacceptable to many nations.

Bits and pieces of the draft agreement were published early on Saturday, but the main body of the text is still to be released.


Meanwhile the sprawling flying-saucer-shaped Spodek sports and concert venue has started to resemble a ghost town in the wait for the latest draft text and the final plenary.

As support services start their work of dismantling the temporal sections of the venue including exhibition pavilions, water, food and coffee is running low in some sections of the venue.

Haggard activists, observers and reporters try to catch a quick sleep on their desks, chairs and wherever they can. Some hope the talks will not drag on until Sunday, fearing potential complications in their families’ plans for Christmas.

However, some are changing their travel plans with the latest postponement of the final joint plenary to later on Saturday afternoon.


As the talks in Katowice draw to a close, participants of the annual U.N. climate gatherings paid tribute to Bernarditas de Castro Muller, a former Filipina diplomat and veteran finance negotiator at the UN climate conference who passed away on Friday. She vociferously fought for developing countries at UN climate talks, an observer said.

(Reporting by Bate Felix, Nina Chestney and Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by William Maclean)