By Dr Tim Cadman
Griffith Law School

The first thing to greet delegates at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP 24) once they emerge from the remotely located airport of Katowice, besides the cold, is the smell of burning coal. On the long bus ride into town those that look out of the window will see the reason in the distance — a large power station. Portents for the negotiations? Maybe. With rumours of apro-coal side event from the Trump administrationandBrazil’s rightist government backing out of hosting the next conference, the future is looking cloudy.

Inside the venue itself the side events are already underway. It was disappointing to attenda retrospective on the Clean Development Mechanismto hear concerns about the human rights failings of a number of CDM projects dismissed as coming from “a few very loud opposition voices.”

If theParis Agreementis to be successful it needs to learn from the lessons of theKyoto Protocol, and tackle issues of historical bad governance head on. COP 24 is expected to finalise the the so-called Paris ‘rulebook’ that will elaborate how adaptation and mitigation activities are to be constructed, funded and reported. The world’s citizens are watching — especially those who are feeling the impacts of climate change already. The global community wants to see what the proposed ‘sustainable development mechanism’ will look like, the scale of the ambition of developed countries to provide finance for vulnerable states, and how corruption will be avoided.

With civil society largely silenced by a law and ordercrackdown by the Polish authorities, the likelihood of securing a robust rulebook from this COP seems remote at this stage in week one.