Written by Gregor Erbach,
Today, the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change begins in Bonn, Germany. The presidency is held by Fiji, a Pacific island state with high vulnerability to climate change impacts.
Developing the rulebook for the Paris Agreement
COP 23 will be focused on the implementation of the Paris Agreement that was concluded in December 2015 and entered into force in November 2016. The conference will develop guidelines on how the provisions of the Paris Agreement will be implemented across a wide range of issues, including transparency, adaptation, emission reductions, provision of finance, capacity-building and technology. It will also prepare the facilitative dialogue which will be held in 2018, with the aim of assessing the nationally determined contributions (national action plans) and raising their ambition in order to meet the targets of the agreement, namely keeping the temperature rise well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.
COP 23 is the first UN climate conference since the announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement. However, a US delegation will participate, as the withdrawal cannot take effect before November 2020 and the USA continues to be a party to the Framework Convention. The other major parties, including the EU, have reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement.
European Parliament engagement
In line with the Parliament’s commitment to the international climate process, a delegation of 12 MEPs, headed by Adina-Ioana Vălean (EPP, Romania), the Chair of the Environment Committee, will be attending the COP 23. On 4 October 2017, Parliament adopted a resolution calling for greater and speedier efforts to advance the EU’s climate goals and policy instruments. It asks the Commission to start preparing a mid-century zero emissions strategy for the EU before the 2018 COP.
Implementing the Paris Agreement in Europe
The EU is in the process of adopting policies and legislation aimed at implementing the Paris Agreement. The European Commission has tabled a comprehensive set of energy and climate policy proposals for 2030, aiming at a 40 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 27 % share of renewable energy sources, and a 30 % improvement in energy efficiency. Key legislative proposals include a reform of the EU emissions trading system (ETS), the effort sharing regulation for emission cuts in the sectors not covered by the ETS, and a regulation integrating the land use and forestry sector into EU climate policies. The ‘clean energy for all Europeans’ package issued on 30 November 2016 includes proposals related to electricity markets and customers, renewable energy, energy efficiency, buildings and governance of the Energy Union. These proposals are currently being considered and amended by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union.
Financing the transition to a low-carbon economy
In the current Multiannual Financial Framework (2014-2020), the EU aims to spend at least 20 % (approximately €180 billion) of its budget on climate action objectives. Climate goals and actions have therefore been integrated into all major EU policies and programmes.
In 2016, the EU and its Member States provided €20.6 billion of support developing countries in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and coping with the impacts of climate change. The European Parliament has called for EU and international commitments to deliver additional financing sources and bring lending and investment practices in line with the low-carbon transition.
Besides EU funding, private sector investments will be crucial, as the transition to clean energy in the EU will require €177 billion of additional investment per year from 2021 onwards, according to the European Commission. To advance the debate on how to mobilise the required investments, the European Parliament will be hosting a high-level conference on financing the transition to clean energy on 7 November in Brussels.