NewsEnvironmentFurther, Faster, Together On Climate - From Bonn To Katowice

Further, Faster, Together On Climate – From Bonn To Katowice

By Ramesh Jaura

BONN (IDN) – The two-week long intensive and multilevel talks concluded in Germany’s former capital city in the early hours of November 18 tasking the negotiators to focus on ‘Where are we, where do we want to go and how do we get there?’ before they meet in Poland in December 2018.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat said the Bonn Climate Conference – officially known as COP23, the 23rd session of the Conference of Parties to the Convention – had become “launch-pad for higher ambition”.   

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, said: “COP23 in Bonn came against a backdrop of severe and unprecedented natural calamities that hit homes, families and economies in Asia, the Caribbean and the Americas – these reminded us of the urgency of our collective task.”

According to observers, with a large number of climate action pledges and initiatives, a strong message from all sides at COP23 was the growing need to coordinate efforts across policy, planning and investment to ensure that every cent invested and every minute of work contributed results in a much greater impact and boosts ambition under the national climate plans.

With 197 Parties, the UNFCCC has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. Its main aim is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame, which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks of Germany, which provided technical support to COP23, said: “In Bonn we made great progress, both with negotiating and implementing. The conference fully satisfied expectations in this regard. And it was an important step on the road to COP in Katowice next year, where we are planning to adopt the rulebook for the Paris Agreement.”

COP23, she said, was also the first Climate Change Conference following the announcement by the Trump administration of U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. “The COP in Bonn sends a powerful signal that the world is united and will not be hindered in its climate action efforts,” she added.

Parallel to the negotiations, the implementation agenda was also advanced in Bonn: Countries, industry and civil society presented a broad spectrum of climate action solutions in hundreds of events. One example of progress outside of the negotiations is the NDC Partnership, which helps developing countries draw up national climate action strategies. The Partnership was able to considerably expand its work at COP23 in Bonn.

A report launched by the International Renewable Energy Agency during COP23 found that many countries now have higher renewable energy targets than are stated in their national climate action plans or NDCs – indicating that in some countries, at least in respect to green energy, higher ambition is already being locked in.

A special scientific report, produced for the conference by Future Earth and the Earth League, says renewable energy expansion around the globe is doubling around every 5.5 years – consistent with the complete de-carbonization of the energy sector by mid-century.

COP23 President Frank Bainimarama, the Prime Minister of Fiji, said: “I’m very pleased that COP23 has been such a success, especially given the challenge to the multilateral consensus for decisive climate action. We have done the job we were given to do, which is to advance the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement and prepare for more ambitious action in the Talanoa Dialogue of 2018.”

The ‘Talanoa Dialogue’, inspired by the Pacific concept of constructive discussion, debate and story-telling, will set the stage in Poland in December next year for the revising upwards of national climate action plans needed to put the world on track to meet pre-2020 ambition and the long-term goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The Fijian Prime Minister spoke of “a positive momentum all around us”. Fiji, he said, was especially gratified how the global community had embraced our concept of a Grand Coalition for greater ambition linking national governments with states and cities, civil society, the private sector and ordinary men and women around the world.

“We leave Bonn having notched up some notable achievements, including our Ocean Pathway, the historic agreement on agriculture and others on a Gender Action Plan and Indigenous People’s Platform. We have also secured more funding for climate adaptation and launched a global partnership to provide millions of climate-vulnerable people the world over with affordable access to insurance,” he added.

“Let’s all leave rededicating ourselves to more ambitious action on climate change by moving Further, Faster, Together in the year ahead,” said Bainimarama.

With the adoption of the Talanoa Dialogue, Espinosa said: “The conference has delivered a launch-pad that can take us to that next stage of higher ambition. It has also advanced the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement so that by 2018 it can truly support sustained international cooperation and national efforts to realize a more secure, prosperous and better world for all.”

But Bonn 2017 did more than that, added the UNFCCC Executive Secretary. “It underlined that support for the Paris Agreement is strong and that the journey upon which the world has embarked is an unstoppable movement supported by all sectors of society, across all parts of the globe,” said Espinosa.

However, ActionAid International expressed disappointment. The organization’s lead on climate change, Harjeet Singh, said: “We expected much more leadership from countries who pulled together when the U.S. declared they were leaving the Paris Agreement. With this year’s floods, fires and hurricanes fresh in their minds, we had assumed that they would come keen to get the job done.

“But once the talks started, the EU, Canada and Australia slunk back to their comfort zones, siding with the U.S., instead of driving real change. They continued to put the brakes on climate action and resisted financial measures for countries struggling to cope with climate impacts,” noted Singh.

“Here in Bonn, there were some useful procedural wins in the areas of pre-2020 action, agriculture, Indigenous Peoples and gender. And with the talks presided over by Fiji, a small island state, the challenges faced by climate-impacted countries took centre stage. But even though vulnerable communities were in the spotlight, this still hasn’t translated into the support that they need. It seems that the world is not yet ready to offer hope to people facing the impacts of climate change,” the ActionAid International’s Singh said.

The COP23 President and the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary outlined some highlights from the 2017 UN climate conference as a result of the negotiations; the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action and the myriad of High-Level and other events:

– Long-term Finance – Countries welcomed progress but also urged greater efforts to deliver the agreed USD 100 Billion per year by 2020 for support to developing countries to take climate action.

– Adaptation Fund Exceeds 2017 Target – The target for funding this year was $80 million, but funding announcements including by Germany and Italy has exceed this by over $13 million taking the total to $93.3 million.

– Breakthrough in Agriculture – there was an historic political breakthrough in respect to agriculture that may lead to a faster and more coordinated response by nations to address a sector that is the second biggest emitter after energy.

– The Government of Norway, the multinational company Unilever and other partners announced a $400 million fund to support more efficient agriculture, smallholder farmers and sustainable forest management.

– Gender Action Plan –The crucial role of women in combating climate change will be formally supported through the plan. This is important given that women tend to be especially vulnerable to climate change impacts and should not be excluded from decision-making regarding actions and solutions. The Plan aims to make women part of all climate change projects and decisions internationally and nationally.

– Local Communities and Indigenous People’s Platform – A political and practical achievement that aims to support the full and equal role of indigenous people in climate action while recognizing the responsibility of governments to respect the rights of indigenous peoples in these decisions.

– Launch of the Ocean Pathway Partnership – It aims, by 2020, to strengthen action and funding that links climate change action with healthy oceans including through the UN Climate Change process and via more explicit aims and ambitions in national climate action plans.

– Launch of Network of Pacific Island Journalists – Ten award-winning media from Fiji, Samoa; Solomon Islands; Papua New Guinea; Tonga and Vanuatu, attending the conference with funding from the Government of Germany and support from the Deutsche Welle Academy and UN Climate Change, announced the formation of a new association aimed at strengthening climate media reporting across the Pacific.

– InsuResilience Initiative announced a new Global Partnership and an additional $125 million from the Government of Germany to support its aim of providing affordable cover to 400 more million poor and vulnerable people by 2020.

– Launch of Fiji Clearing House for Risk Transfer – A new online platform using artificial intelligence to help vulnerable countries find affordable insurance and solutions to avoid climate risk.

– The governments of Germany and the United Kingdom along with other partners announced $153 million to expand programs to fight climate change and deforestation in the Amazon.

– The European Investment Bank formally announced $75 million for a new $405 million investment programme by the Water Authority of Fiji to strengthen resilience of water distribution and wastewater treatment for close to 300,000 people living in and around the capital Suva.

– America’s Pledge brings together private and public sector leaders to ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in reducing emissions and delivers the country’s climate goals under the Paris Agreement

– The Green Climate Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development announced over $37 million of GCF grant financing to the $243 million Saïss Water Conservation Project to assist Morocco with more resilient agriculture.

– Powering Past Coal Alliance brings together 25 countries, states and regions to accelerate the rapid phase-out of coal and support affected workers and communities to make the transition.

– The UN Development Programe, Germany, Spain and EU launched a EUR 42 million NDC Support Programme to assist countries deliver on the Paris Agreement.

– The existing NDC Partnership announced the establishment of a new regional hub to support implementation of national climate action plans or NDCs in the Pacific.

– 13 countries and the International Energy Agency announced EUR 30 million to the ‘IEA Clean Energy Transitions Programme’ to support clean energy transitions around the world.

– Launch of New Small Island Developing State (SIDS) Health initiative – The World Health Organization, in collaboration with the UN Climate Change secretariat and Fijian COP23 Presidency, announced a special initiative to protect people living in SIDS from the health impacts of climate change. Its goal is, by 2030, to triple the levels of international financial support to climate and health in those countries

– The Bonn-Fiji Commitment was made – a commitment to action adopted by over 300 local and regional leaders to deliver the Paris Agreement at all levels, supported with 20 initiatives including those focusing on Africa, islands, post-industrial cities and climate reporting standards. 

During COP23, it was announced that Syria had ratified the Paris Agreement, raising the number of ratifications to 170. Six countries have ratified the Doha Amendment (Belgium, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden) taking total ratifications to 90 countries. Eight countries have ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol (Comoros, Finland, Germany, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Luxembourg, Maldives, Slovakia and the UK), raising the number of ratifications to 19 countries in total. [IDN-InDepthNews – 19 November 2017]

Photo: COP23 Venue. Credit: German Environment Ministry

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