BONN, Germany, November 20, 2017 (ENS) – A multi-faceted new surge of climate actions and financing was announced by countries, cities, states, regions, businesses and civil society during COP23, which closed early Saturday morning in Bonn. The 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, was hosted by the Government of Fiji November 6-17.
COP23 attracted more than 16,000 participants, including over 9,200 government officials, 5,500 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and 1,200 members of the media.
This was not expected to be a game-changing conference but one focused on work to achieve goals already set by the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which took effect in November 2016. It turned out to be a conference where, although solid progress was made on the detailed rules, procedures and guidelines for implementing the Paris Agreement, no formal text was agreed.
The UNFCCC has requested that this working group complete its task by 2018, so that the decisions on the rulebook can be adopted in 2018 during COP24 in Katowice, Poland.
There, countries will be expected to bring plans to accelerate their responses to climate change. Because the climate is changing so quickly, there is no time for delay.
The overall message at COP23 was one of urgency.
Concentrations of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere multiplied at record-breaking speed in 2016 to the highest level in 800,000 years, according to the World Meteorological Organization. The abrupt changes in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years are without precedent, says the WMO, a UN agency with a membership of 191 national and territorial governments.
Experts calculate that the Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs, the voluntary government pledges at the heart of the Paris Agreement, filed to date, would cover just one-third of the actions needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The Paris Agreement sets out a global action plan to limit global warming to well below 2°C over pre-industrial levels. Governments agreed to limit the increase to 1.5°C, if possible, since this would reduce the risks and the impacts of the warming climate.
Opening the High-Level portion of COP23 on November 15, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “We need more ambition. We must go further and faster together.”
“It is fitting that this year’s conference is led by Fiji, a nation on the frontlines. Last month I visited other small islands facing the impacts of a warming world: Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica. The hurricanes’ damage was beyond belief. … Floods, fires, extreme storms and drought are growing in intensity and frequency.”
“The catastrophic effects of climate change are upon us,” warned Guterres.
“The world should adopt a simple rule: if big infrastructure projects are not green, they should not be given the green light. Otherwise we will be locked into bad choices for decades to come. Investing in climate-friendly development is where the smart money is headed,” said the UN leader.
Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Union’s Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, said, “The spirit of Paris is very much alive. We achieved progress in Bonn on the issues that were important to the EU, such as the Paris Work Program. But we must continue to build on this momentum in the coming months, because there is still a lot of work ahead of us before we meet in Katowice next year. The main objective must be to keep the world firmly on the path towards what was agreed two years ago in Paris.”
Fiji’s Prime Minister and COP23 President Frank Bainimarama closed the conference saying, “We should all be very pleased that COP23 has been a success.”
“Friends,” he said, “COP23 has brought together power in many different forms. Power at all levels of government. Power in corporate boardrooms. Power in international institutions and civil society. Power in the hands of educators, investors and creative artists. The organisational power of our youth. And the power we derive as decision-makers from our people to fully implement the Paris Agreement. We need all this power to solve the greatest challenge of our age.”
“Right from the start, Fiji has endeavored to use the power of the COP Presidency that you invested in us to put people first,” said Bainimarama. “We wanted to make a connection between these complex negotiations and the real, everyday concerns and aspirations of people the world over.”
An important COP23 outcome was the finalization of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform. This platform will provide direct, comprehensive means to give a greater voice to indigenous people in the climate negotiations and allow them to share their traditional knowledge and best practices on reducing emissions, adapting to climate change and building resilience.
Countries also finalized the first-ever Gender Action Plan, intended to increase the participation of women in all UNFCCC processes. It also seeks to increase awareness of and support for the development and effective implementation of gender-responsive climate policy at all levels of government.
Countries reached an historic agreement on agriculture that will help governments develop and implement new strategies to both reduce emissions and build resilience to the effects of climate change. This is the first time in the history of UN climate negotiations that countries have reached an agreement on agriculture.
Another new element is the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue. The Fijian COP23 Presidency announced this inclusive, participatory process that allows countries and non-state entities to share best practices in order to raise ambition. The Dialogue is intended to enable countries to collectively move closer to the more ambitious Paris Agreement goal of keeping the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The UNFCCC has compiled a list of funding announcements made during COP23 aimed at limiting climate change. Major pledges include funds to support the poorest and most vulnerable, whose plight has been brought into sharp perspective by this year’s extreme weather, hurricanes, sea-level rise, coral bleaching, melting glaciers and ice sheets.
Financing Climate Action
* – The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, BMZ, contributed €110 million (US$125 million) to launch the InsuResilience Global Partnership for Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance Solutions to bring affordable insurance and other financial protection to 400 million vulnerable people around the world. The contribution from BMZ follows a £30 million (US$39 million) commitment that was made by the Government of the United Kingdom in July.
* – Adaptation Fund exceeds 2017 Target – Germany’s contribution of €50 million and Italy’s contribution of €7 million means this fund has now surpassed its 2017 target by over US$13 million and stands at a total equivalent of US$93.3 million dollars.
German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks told reporters at COP23, “Our goal is to make [the Adaptation Fund] a firm part of the financial architecture of the Paris Agreement.”
Established under the Kyoto Protocol of the UNFCCC, the Adaptation Fund finances projects and programs aimed at helping developing countries adapt to the harmful effects of climate change.
* – Norway and Unilever established a new US$400 million fund for public and private investment in more resilient socioeconomic development. The fund will support business models that combine investments in high productivity agriculture, smallholder inclusion and forest protection.
* – Germany and Britain will provide a total of US$153 million to expand programs that fight climate change and deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
* – The European Investment Bank will provide US$75 million for a new US$405 million investment program by the Water Authority of Fiji. The plan will strengthen resilience of water distribution and wastewater treatment following Cyclone Winston, the world’s second strongest storm, which hit Fiji in February 2016.
* – Green Climate Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will support US$37.6 million of GCF grant financing in the US$243.1 million Saïss Water Conservation Project to make Moroccan agriculture more resilient.
* – The nonprofit World Resources Institute announced a landmark US$2.1 billion of private investment earmarked to restore degraded lands through Initiative 20×20, a country-led effort to bring 20 million hectares of land in Latin America and the Caribbean into restoration by 2020.
This initiative, launched formally at COP 20 in Lima, will support the Bonn Challenge, a global commitment to restore 150 million hectares of land around the world by 2020 and the New York Declaration on Forests that seeks to restore 350 million hectares by 2030.
* – The UN Development Programme, together with Germany, Spain and the European Union launched thet €42 million NDC Support Programme to help countries deliver on their commitments under the Paris Agreement.
* – The NDC Partnership will establish a new regional hub to support implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions in the Pacific.
* – Thirteen countries and the International Energy Agency will establish a new €30 million to support clean energy transitions around the world. Work will focus on key countries that are seeking greater cooperation with the IEA, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and South Africa.
* – Ecuador has pledged to reduce 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the forest sector.
* – Gabon’s National Park Service has promised to halt illegal logging to stop the emission of 20 million tonnes of CO2.
Investing in Climate Action
* – HSBC, one of the world’s largest banking and financial services organisations, announced US$100 billion for sustainable financing and investment by 2025. The goal is one of five new commitments that HSBC is making to tackle climate change and support sustainable growth in the communities it serves.
HSBC has also pledged to source 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, with an interim target of 90 percent by 2025.
* – R20 and Blue Orchard Finance’s African Sub-national Climate Fund will provide ready-to-invest projects and funds for 100 infrastructure projects by 2020. The nonprofit R20 – Regions of Climate Action was founded in 2011 by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with regions, the UN, development banks, clean-tech companies, academics and NGOs, with the support of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, to help sub-national governments develop and finance green infrastructure projects.
Coordinating Climate Action
With so many climate action pledges and initiatives from government, business and civil society, there is a growing need to coordinate effort to ensure that every cent invested and every minute of work contributed results in a much greater impact than each acting separately.
* – Small Island Developing States, SIDS, Health Initiative by the World Health Organization, the UN Climate Change secretariat and the Fijian COP 23 Presidency aims to ensure small island countries have health systems resilient to climate change by 2030.
* – America’s Pledge brings together private and public sector leaders to ensure the United States remains a global leader in reducing emissions and delivers the country’s climate goals under the Paris Agreement, regardless of President Donald Trump’s threat to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.
* – Powering Past Coal Alliance brings together 25 countries, states and regions to accelerate the rapid phaseout of coal and support affected workers and communities as they make the transition.
* – C40 mayors of 25 pioneering cities, representing 150 million citizens, pledged to develop and begin implementing more ambitious climate action plans before the end of 2020 to deliver emissions-neutral and climate-resilient cities by 2050. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group connects 90 of the world’s greatest cities, representing one-quarter of the global economy.
* – The Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction signed an agreement to speed up and scale up collaborative action.
* – below50, the World Business Council on Sustainable Development’s initiative to grow the global market for the most sustainable fuels, is expanding. below50 brings businesses together to purchase, consume or produce fuels that emit at least 50 percent fewer greenhouse gases than traditional fossil fuels. As part of this expansion, new hubs will begin operating across three continents: Australia, North America and South America.
* – EcoMobility Alliance – Ambitious cities committed to sustainable transport, a project of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, held two sessions at COP23 to increase knowledge.
* – The Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative, TUMI, kicked off its first Global Urban Mobility Challenge at COP23. It will support five to eight cities with 200k for a pilot project to start a mobility transformation in that city. Deadline for submissions is February 28, 2018.
In TUMI the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development has brought together some of the world’s leading institutions working on sustainable mobility with city networks and think tanks to implement projects where they are needed most.
* – The Ocean Pathway Partnership aims, by 2020, to strengthen action and funding that links climate change action, healthy oceans and livelihoods, including through the UN Climate Change process and through national climate action plans.
The Fijian COP23 Presidency launched the Ocean Pathway Partnership to encourage the climate negotiations process to address the relationship between climate change and the ocean. The partnership will consolidate existing work being done to create a coordinated effort among governments at all levels, existing ocean alliances and coalitions, civil society and the private sector to create a stronger link between climate action and a healthy ocean.
The partnership will be co-chaired by Fiji and Sweden, who are joining forces again after leading the inaugural UN Ocean Conference in July 2017.
* – The United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, launched the Global Platform for the New York Declaration on Forests, NYDF, to accelerate achievement of its goals of forest protection and restoration.
The NYDF is an innovative partnership of multinational companies, governments, civil society and indigenous peoples pledging to cut natural forest loss in half by 2020 and to end it by 2030.
The NYDF commitment, if realized, will eliminate the emission of between 4.5 and 8.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, equivalent to removing the carbon emissions produced by one billion cars.
“Meeting the world’s climate and forest goals will only be possible through the collaborative action of all forest stakeholders – countries, companies, indigenous peoples, and civil society included,” said Jamison Ervin of UNDP. “The New York Declaration on Forests is a prime example of this much-needed collaboration in action.”
Corporate Emission Cuts
* – Mars Inc. to reduce carbon footprint 27 percent by 2025 and 67 percent by 2050
* – Microsoft to cut carbon emissions by 75 percent by 2030
* – EV100 – More big companies join transition to electro-mobility
* – Walmart commits to commodities that do not increase deforestation
* – Syria ratified the Paris Agreement – 170 countries have now ratified
* – Six countries have ratified the Doha Amendment: Belgium, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Spain, and Sweden. Ninety countries in total have ratified.
To advance its climate leadership, the EU announced that it intends to deposit the ratification instruments of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol by the end of this year. The Doha Amendment concerns the second period of the Kyoto Protocol, which requires parties to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020. The EU has already exceeded its 2020 targets in 2016 by having decreased emissions by 23 percent.
* – Eight countries have ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol: Comoros, Finland, Germany, Laos, Luxembourg, Maldives, Slovakia and the United Kingdom. Nineteen countries in total have ratified.