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Highlights of COP23

Between November 6 to 17, 2017, was held the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP 23) at the United Nations Framework Convenion on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany under the presidency of Fiji Islands.

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What are the challenges for this COP 23?

The first goal of this COP 23, as much as the COP 22, was to define the application rules of the Paris Agreement signed in 2015. These rules will be signed in 2018 at the COP 24 in Poland and implemented in 2020. As a reminder, the main goal of the Paris Agreement, is to contain the average temperature rise of the planet under 2°C perhaps 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels (before 1750) and this with the aim of reducing the risks and effects of climate change. For the moment commitments from countries made in Paris in 2015 are still insufficient and lead us to a 3-degree rise. The UN warns in its latest report that a new record of carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere was observed in 2016 and that it is the highest record in 800 000 years.

It is imperative that countries speed up their decisions, increase their ambition and take action.

Progress

The «Talanoa Dialogue»

Launched by the Fiji, the word Talanoa refers to a transparent and participative dialogue. This dialogue fall within this necessity to reevaluate the commitments of everyone. It will continue until the COP 24 in Poland and aims to ass the first global collective efforts of greenhouse gas emissions reductions, to define solutions and consider upgrading each country’s ambitions at the COP 24 to truly reach the goal of 2 degrees.

Alliance for the carbon exit

The « Powering Past Coal Alliance » was launched by Canada and the United Kingdom. This coalition gathers 20 countries as well as local collectivities. It plans the closing of all their coal power plants in ten to fifteen years. Amongst the member countries, the alliance counts: France, Canada, United-Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, New-Zealand, Portugal, Costa Rica, Finland and Angola as well as American states.

Problem: the countries using the most coal are China, India, USA, Germany and Russia which are absent from this coalition.

Yet coal is at the heart of climate change. It is the first global source of electricity (40%) while being the most harmful for the climate. In fact, coal emits 1.5 times more CO2 than gas and 1.3 times more than oil.

«Ocean Pathway»

We know today that the link between ocean and climate change is important, but it is only with the Paris Agreement that for the first time oceans have a crucial role as climate regulator and acknowledged in an international agreement.

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Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

To go further and integrate definitively the problematics linked to oceans in international climate politics, the COP 23 updated their partnership with “Ocean Pathway” that strives to reinforce the financing possibilities by 2020 to save oceans and marine ecosystems but also to promote the integration of programs linked to the protection of oceans in the national action plan of Paris agreement signatory.

Now, the oceans fall within the priorities of climatic agenda. To learn more on the importance of oceans on climate: 30 Ocean and Climate scientific items on the Ocean and Climate platform.

America’s Pledge

Since June 2017 and the decision of Donald Trump to withdraw the USA from the Paris Agreement, whereas it is the second largest emitter of CO2 behind China, the concern on the planet’s future was clearly stated.

Fortunately, many cities, States, companies and American universities decided to continue their commitment to reach the climatic goals of the Paris Agreement despite the president.

As of July 2017, Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York and the Californian governor Jerry Brown launched the initiative America’s Pledge in order to regroup and evaluate the actions implemented in the USA.

On the occasion of the COP 23, Michael Bloomberg and Jerry Brown communicated their first report on the importance of action from non-federal actors in the USA. This commitment from American public and private sectors is important because if they were a country, the non-federal actors would represent a third of the global biggest economic power. The weight of this coalition is therefore significant.

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Work program on agriculture and food security

For several years, the implementation of a program of reflection on agriculture and food security was highly demanded. Thus, during three years, experts meeting and workshop will be established to discuss technical questions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the agricultural transition set up. After these three years, a report will be presented to the COP 26 in 2020.

The question of agriculture is intrinsically linked to the one on food security. The issue is double:

  • On one side the intensive agriculture is guilty of a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in the world perhaps a third if we consider the whole alimentary system, meaning from the production to consumption. It has to be adapted.
  • On the other side, the climate change highly impacts the agriculture and threatens the global food security.

The adaptation of the current agricultural system is therefore of capital importance to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions or to insure the food security. Especially since the Food and Agriculture organization for the United Nations (FAO) recently published a new report on the food security status in the world. According to this report, the number of human being that suffers from hunger in 2017 increased for the first time in 10 years. Thus, even if today we produce enough food to feed 12 billion of human beings, 815 million still suffer from hunger in 2016. For the FAO, this increase is linked to the climate change and the rise of conflicts that are themselves more and more linked to natural resources exhaustion. To this program, is added the setting of a fund by the Norwegian government, the multinational Unilever and other partners to develop more efficient agriculture and sustainable forest management.

Water conservation project in the Saïss plain

This project was created in 2016. Its goal is to build a primary adductor of 125 km between the M’dez dam and the Saïss plain in Northern Morocco to stop the surexploitation of resources in water in the plain. This project will allow a more sustainable distribution of fresh water and orientate towards a more adapted agriculture.

At the end of the COP 23, the Green Fund for Climate (GFC) and the European bank for the reconstruction and development provide 37 million of dollars for the project.

Action plan in favor of sex equality

The link with climate may be difficult to identify at first, yet, women are particularly impacted by climate change specially in Asia and Africa. For example the Journal de environment mentions in an article the dramatic consequences of drought in rural areas of Africa on women physiology. It claims that:

women born during intense drought period are smaller, receive lower education and have less resources when they are adults. More surprising they transmit their imbalance to their children that are more susceptible to suffer from malnutrition and diarrheal illness.”

Ironically, they are very little represented in discussions or decision-making on the subject. Thus, an action plan in favor of sex equality was adopted this year to solve this problem.

The action plan create in the work program of Lima relative to gender aims to make women participate fully and really on an equal level and promote climate politics favoring sex equality and integration of the gender perspective in the set up of the Convention and action of Parties, secretariat, UN entities and all parties.” Extract from the official text

Autochthone nations platform and local communities

The goal of this platform is to support the important role of autochthone nations in the climate action as well as the respect of rights of these nations. To learn more, read our article on this topic.

Commitments from industrial nations remain insufficient

2017 was the theater of many climatic catastrophes everywhere in the world (hurricanes, flood and drought). Yet no significant measure was taken to help the most vulnerable countries. On the contrary, negotiations concerning the financing of « loss and damages” was postponed to 2018.

Developed countries do not commit sufficiently on the financial level. Initially, the Paris Agreement planned a financing of 100 billion of dollars per year starting in 2020. Unfortunately, we are far from this amount.

Yet, financial commitments of developed countries are essential for developing countries to adapt while continuing their rise but also so that they can face climatic hazards of which they are victims.

The international summit on climate planned on December 12th in Paris is a new chance for developed countries to take their responsibilities and consider new financial commitments.

To learn more on COP 23 read the official sites of COP 23 and CCNUCC