Written by Gregor Erbach,
This year’s COP 23 climate change conference was held from 6 to 17 November in Bonn, Germany, under the presidency of Fiji. The conference made progress on implementing the Paris Agreement, and agreed on a work plan for 2018. It also gave a strong signal that countries remain committed to the UN climate process, despite the United States’ intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
In November 2017, two years after the conclusion of the Paris Agreement, Fiji held the presidency of the 23rd conference of the parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and was the first small-island developing state to do so. With the agreement’s recent ratification by Nicaragua and Syria, all UN members have now signed and/or ratified it. However, the United States (the world’s second-largest carbon emitter) intends to withdraw from the agreement, although not from the convention itself, in 2020.
Alongside the formal negotiating session, the COP featured numerous side events with the participation of regions, industry and civil society. A coalition of US regions and cities showed a strong presence, and submitted the America’s Pledge report on non-federal climate action in the United States.
More than 20 nations and subnational entities joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance, a global UK and Canada initiative to promote a transition from unabated coal-fired electricity generation to cleaner alternatives.
The conference advanced in defining the Paris Agreement rulebook. More will have to be done throughout 2018 to prepare its draft before it is finalised and adopted at COP 24 in Katowice, Poland in December. As decided by COP 21 in Paris, a facilitative dialogue in 2018 will review current efforts, strengthen global ambition and inform the next round of climate pledges, due in 2020. Called the ‘Talanoa dialogue’ in reference to a traditional Fijian approach to discussions, it aims at an inclusive, participatory and transparent process, with a first phase including non-state actors, and a final political phase taking place during COP 24.
COP 23 decided that the existing Adaptation Fund will serve the Paris Agreement, agreed on the functioning of the local communities and indigenous peoples’ platform, set up a new gender action plan, and agreed to work on agriculture issues. Discussions on pre-2020 ambition resulted in a plan to hold two stocktaking exercises on pre-2020 implementation and ambition in 2018 and 2019, and make two climate-finance assessments. Fiji launched the Ocean Pathway strategy, to address the link between the oceans and climate change.
Role of the EU and the European Parliament
A delegation led by Environment Committee Chair, Adina-Ioana Vălean, represented the European Parliament at the conference, and was backed by a plenary resolution emphasising the need for ambitious climate action.
During the COP, the EU and California agreed to cooperate on emissions trading and zero-carbon transport, while the EU and China agreed to cooperate on carbon markets. The EU intends to ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol for pre-2020 climate action by developed countries by the end of 2017.
On 12 December 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron is due to host the One Planet climate summit in Paris. Ahead of COP 24, a negotiating meeting will take place in April/May 2018 and the Talanoa dialogue will continue throughout the year. In April 2018, the EU, with Canada and China, will host the second Ministerial on Climate Action in Brussels. The Global climate action summit will take place in San Francisco in September 2018, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change plans to present its report on the 1.5°C target in October.
Read this At a glance on ‘COP 23 climate change conference: Outcomes‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.