By Stefan J. Bos
After bruising negotiations, negotiators from almost 200 countries could finally adopt an agreement in the southern Polish city of Katowice to put into action what was promised in the 2015 Paris climate accord.
The accord aims to have transparent and universal rules to meet the Paris goals of limiting global temperature rises to well below 2 degrees Celsius or around 35 Fahrenheit.
Last-minute rows over carbon markets threatened to derail the two-week summit - and delayed it by a day.
But environmental activists and some nations have been urging more ambitious climate goals, and negotiators delayed decisions on two related issues until next year to get a deal on them.
That worries Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of environmental group Greenpeace International. "I think that the good thing is that they now have this rulebook, which gives them the guidance that they need. So there is no more excuses," she said.
"But they don't need that," the official explained, referring to decision makers. They should just get on with it. I mean they know the science, they know the technology, they have the rulebook. There is nowhere to hide anymore," Morgan added.
The talks in Poland took place against a backdrop of growing concern among several scientists that global warming on Earth is proceeding faster than governments are responding to it.
Last month, a study found that global warming will worsen disasters such as the deadly California wildfires and the powerful hurricanes
that have hit the United States this year.
And a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, concluded that while it’s possible to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial times, this would require a dramatic overhaul of the global economy.
That would include a shift away from fossil fuels.
Skeptics have questioned these findings. US President Donald Trump, for instance, announced recently that the United States could leave the Paris Climate accord and he wondered whether humans had impacted climate change.