The hosts for the 23rd United Nations Conference of Parties was Fiji - Bula! For practical reasons, Fiji came to the Rhine with the negotiations physically hosted in Bonn, Germany. Frank Bainimarama, the Fijian Prime Minister and COP 23 President is one of the leading global voices calling on the international community to commit to more ambitious targets to curb carbon emissions.
He is committed to drawing global attention to the impact climate change is having on vulnerable communities, including Pacific Islanders and the residents of other Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The Fijian presidency introduced the Talanoa Dialogue at the COP, to facilitate respect and understanding between nations on the road to COP 24 in 2018.
The Talanoa Dialogue is structured around three main questions: where are we; where do we want to go; and how will we get there? In the President’s view, this dialogue will raise ambition and accelerate our response to the challenge of limiting dangerous climate change.
Here is a high-level round up of the major focus areas of COP 23 that will be important in the run up to next years COP 24 in Poland.
1. Setting out the rules
COP 23 has really been about negotiating the practical and technical frameworks that will be in place to deliver the terms of the Paris Agreement when it comes into force in 2020. This ‘rulebook’ includes discussion about transparency and country level cooperation. It also means discussions around short, medium and long term emissions reductions targets for nations to meet their NDC commitments as well as reporting of adaptation efforts and how to monitor compliance with the Paris Agreement. Negotiators agreed the draft ‘rulebook’ will be delivered in Summer 2018 ahead of COP 24.
2.Taking action now
The question of pre-2020 action was an area of focus, although not initially on the formal negotiation agenda for the COP. Developed countries have not yet delivered the promised $100bn per year in climate finance agreed at in Copenhagen in 2009. Perseverance by developing countries, including India and China, meant that pre-2020 ambition is now included in the COP 23 text. Actions include reviewing progress on emissions reductions and climate financing.
3. At the coal face
A pledge has been made by a group of countries led by the UK and Canada for phasing out the use of coal. The Powering Past Coal Alliance sees 20 nations committed to quickly phasing out coal in their energy mix, although it does not commit signatories to a phase-out date. Coal currently provides around 40% of global electricity and to remain below 2°C, global phase out of coal will be critical. The alliance aims to have 50 members by COP 24.
4. All by myself
With Syria announcing it will ratify the Paris Agreement, the USA is the only nation in the world that seeks to be outside the framework. Despite that, the ‘We Are Still In’ delegation, comprising US states, cities, organisations and businesses, published a report at the COP outlining its commitment to work towards the terms of the Paris Agreement without the support of the federal government.
COP 24 next year is pivotal in ensuring nations are ready to move forward to meet national commitments. We will observe the Talanoa Dialogue progress with interest.