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Countries agree on Paris accord rulebook at COP24 but punt some issues to 2019

Following about two weeks of climate talks in Poland, more than 195 nations including the U.S. and China on Dec. 15 adopted rules for implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change but punted some key issues to the next annual meeting.

At the 24th annual session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, more commonly referred to as COP24, parties agreed to rules for how participating countries will provide information about their emissions reductions targets, mitigation and adaptation measures; and assess progress on the development of related low-carbon technologies. The talks were extended by a day when an agreement could not be reached within the initial allotted time.

The guideline also outlines the process by which developed nations may in later years pledge to provide additional financial support for developing countries such as China to take action on climate change. Developed countries had already committed to provide climate financing of $100 billion annually from 2020 through 2025 to developing countries.

Climate talk experts have said a rulebook is critical to the success of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to limit global warming ideally to 1.5 degrees C and to 2 degrees at the most from pre-industrial levels.

"The agreed guidelines mean that countries can now establish the national systems that are needed for implementing the Paris Agreement as of 2020," the United Nations said in a release.

But the countries could not reach a deal on the more thorny issues of market mechanisms for cutting emissions, such as carbon markets, and for ensuring each tonne of carbon dioxide released into the air is accounted for and not double counted among countries. Also, while the guidebook calls on nations to step up their climate ambitions, it does not mandate that the countries meet their goals, The Washington Post reported.

Nations in 2020 will have their first chance to ratchet up their initial ambitions — their current pledges fall far short of the emissions reductions needed to achieve the Paris goals. Meanwhile, scientists forecast global emissions in 2018 will have climbed for the second year in a row.

The deal was reached even as President Donald Trump has pledged to pull the U.S. from the Paris agreement in 2020 and after the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, all refused to endorse a recent report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that found the world effectively has until 2030, much earlier than previously expected, to significantly reduce emissions and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C.

The next set of formal climate talks are slated to occur in Chile in 2019, although the exact dates of those meetings have yet to be announced.