Sunday, 19 November 2017
23rd Global Climate Change Talks Underway in Bonn

23rd Global Climate Change Talks Underway in Bonn

By Ama Kudom-Agyemang
The 23rd UN Climate Change Conference, dubbed ‘COP 23’, is underway in Bonn, Germany. It is aimed to foster the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, adopted by the international community in 2015 at COP 21.
The essence of the agreement is to keep global average temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius, and if possible 1.5 degrees Celsius. So far, earth’s average temperature has gone up 1 Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, and this rise, according to experts, is enough to wreak havoc in many parts of the world.

Coming two years after the adoption of the globally acclaimed Paris Agreement, COP 23 is programmed to push nations to the next level of ambition needed to tackle global warming and direct the world to a safer and more prosperous development path.
The expectation is that cities, states, regions, territories, businesses and civil society will be propelled to support national climate action plans, the internationally-agreed temperature goal and the wider objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
News from the conference say that the opening session on Monday, November 6, was marked with the usual performances and high-level statements emphasising the need for unified action to stick to the Paris Agreement.
The President of COP 23, who is Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, in his opening remarks alluded to the destructive natural disasters that have destabilised millions of people across the world in recent times. He said, “The human suffering caused by intensifying hurricanes, fires, droughts, floods and threats to food security caused by climate change means there is no time to waste.”
Fiji is the first small island state to hold such a leadership position at a COP event, while the German Government is providing the substantial logistical resources.
Mr Bainimarama stated, “…our jobs as leaders is to respond to the suffering with all means available to us. This means to meet our commitment in full, not back away from them.”
He announced that Fiji has been working to build a “Grand Coalition,” of governments at every level, civil society, the private sector and faith-based organisations. Known as ‘Under2 Coalition’, the initiative is an international accord among cities, states and countries, committed to limiting the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius.
The Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Change Framework Convention (UNFCCC), Patricia Espinosa, said the Paris Agreement, together with the Sustainable Development Agenda, provide “a clear path forward to truly address climate change and sustainable development.”
Ms Espinosa said in Bonn, governments will be taking the next crucial steps essential for the attainment of the ultimate goal of the Paris Agreement, which is to keep global temperature, if possible, to 1.5 degrees or well below 2 degrees Celsius.
She stressed the need for immediate progress to be made, towards fulfilling the commitments due in 2020, adding that “in this regard, finance and pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions are key.”
Other speakers at the opening session included the Global Director for Climate at the Washington-based policy think-tank World Resources Institute, Paula Caballero. She noted, “We have less than three years left to bend the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions downward to avoid the very worst and most catastrophic impacts of climate change.”
For her part, the German Minister for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Barbara Hendricks, echoed her country’s support to the UN and said as the host of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, “Bonn is progressing into a global centre of climate action and an international hub for sustainable development.”
She announced that Germany would support the UN’s Adaptation Fund with an additional €50 million.
At COP 23, one of the issues for the African Group is to make progress on pre-2020 commitments. The Group wants this year’s Climate Talks to provide an opportunity for rich countries to revisit their commitment to undertake pre-2020 actions. These include the operationalisation of the $100 billion per year from 2020 and other resources for developing countries.
Ghana is participating in COP 23 with a high-level delegation that includes the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Dr Frimpong Boateng. The country will showcase achievements made since COP 22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, last year. And according to Daniel Benefoh of the Environmental Protection Agency, one major achievement is the elaboration of implementation strategies for selected programme of actions under the country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for climate action.
Clearly, COP 23 will be an acid test for implementation of the Paris Agreement. As noted by the President of the European Climate Foundation, Laurence Tubiana, the Bonn meeting “is supposed to be mostly technical, a chance to complete a complicated “rule book” for implementing the treaty’s provisions.”
A Pre-COP Press Release from the UNFCCC Secretariat said the guidelines underpinning the implementation will need to ensure that the agreement fosters transparency on action and support, as well as boost resilience-building and adaptation. Furthermore, they need to detail how governments will take stock of the evolving global situation and demonstrate how mechanisms to facilitate implementation and promote compliance will operate.
Some experts and diplomats are of the view that the daunting task of forging the next steps for the Paris Agreement has been made all the more difficult by the US pullout. On June 2, this year, US President Donald Trump announced that his country was pulling out of the global pact.
The then UN Chief Climate Negotiator Christiana Figueres, who delivered the Paris Agreement at the end of COP 21, was not troubled by the announcement. She described it as having “…provoked an unparalleled wave of support for the treaty,” adding, “He shored up the world’s resolve on climate action, and for that we can all be grateful.”
Meanwhile, the grand ‘Under2 Coalition’ was formed in 2015 by the states of California and Baden-Württemberg, Germany, to mobilise and galvanise bold climate action from like-minded city, state and regional governments around the globe.
Currently, the coalition includes 176 jurisdictions on six continents collectively representing more than 36 countries, 1.2 billion people and $28.8 trillion GDP– equivalent to over 16 per cent of the global population and over 39 per cent of the global economy.
Majority of Under2 Coalition members represent sub-national jurisdictions or city authorities, including 18 U.S. jurisdictions representing nearly one-third of America’s population and GDP. Also, 15 nations, including Sweden, Mexico, Canada, Denmark and Fiji, are part of the global pact.
Members have pledged to limit global temperatures either by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions from 95 per cent to 80 per cent below 1990 levels or hold emissions to less than 2 annual metric tonnes per capita by 2050.
Experts have predicted that an increase in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius will be the level of potentially catastrophic consequences.

Last modified on Thursday, 09 November 2017 10:47