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The Pan African Climate Change Alliance has just concluded stakeholder consultations on climate advocacy and inputs into national and regional strategic climate change processes as well as an organisation capacity assessment that was conducted on our chapters in eight countries.

The PACJA team visited chapters in Ethiopia, Botswana, Gabon, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, and Zambia.

The move by PACJA is aimed at creating strong pillars in countries hosting Regional Economic Integration Communities (RECs) and Pan African Institutions to ensure consistent and sustainable outreach, where civil society and communities at the frontline of climate change impacts play proactive role.

In its strategic Plan 2016 -- 2020, PACJA has identified the African Union and other key Pan African Institutions, UN Agencies in Africa, together with Regional Economic Integration Communities (RECs) as key inter-governmental continental actors to engage, lobby and/or support in its ambitious vision for a an inclusive, pro-poor, people-centred, equitable, climate-resilient low-carbon development pathways. 

The organisation assessment was aimed at strengthening the capacities of National Platforms and creating linkages with governments and countries hosting the headquarters of these institutions.

PACJA is a continental coalition of Civil Society Organizations from diverse backgrounds in Africa. 

Founded in 2008, the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance has emerged as the most vibrant and largest Civil Society platform in climate change and sustainable development, with a membership of more than 1000 organizations and networks.

The Alliance brings together Faith-based Organizations, Community-based organizations, Non-Governmental organizations, Trusts, Foundations, Farmers and Pastoralist Groups among other sectors.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance is this week taking part in an expert meeting to assess the progress made in the process to formulate and implement the national adaptation plans. 

PACJA is represented in the meeting that is taking part from 7-9 February 2018 at Hotel Praia in Sao Tome and Principe.

The meeting comes just months before the subsidiary body for implementation (SBI) 48th session that will be held between April and May 2018.

During the session, the SBI will assess progress made in the process to formulate and implement national adaptation plans (NAPs) with a view to making recommendations thereon to the Conference of Parties (COP).

As part of the actions and steps for the assessment, the COP requested the Least Developed Countries Expert Group (LEG), in collaboration with the Adaptation Committee, to organize a meeting of Party experts, to consider the progress made towards the achievement of the objectives of the process to formulate and implement NAPs, experiences, best practices, lessons learned, gaps and needs, and support provided and received, with a view to providing a summary of progress made in the process to formulate and implement NAPs.

By Jacob Munoru

Every few years, the issue of deforestation and illegal logging comes up in the news, and then dies a natural death, buried under other more ‘important’ issues until it comes back up sooner or later.

I was alerted to the resurgence of this issue after I came across an online petition by conservationists seeking to stop the legal felling of trees in the Mt Kenya forest.

The conservationists, who have so far garnered 3,398 signatures according to a brief on the Daily Nation (Thursday, January 18), want the Kenya Forest Service to stop the logging and conserve the forest.

At the same time, the Sengwer community that lives in Embobut Forest is facing eviction from their homes in the name of forest conservation, with the ongoing conflict between the Kenya Forest Service officers and the community members allegedly resulting in the death of a herder on Wednesday.

The question therefore begs, is there a way to conserve forests while still benefiting from the resource and securing the homes of forest-dwelling communities?

Many of the world’s forests and woodlots mainly in the tropics and subtropics (read Africa or East Africa to be precise) are not managed sustainably. Most countries in the region lack appropriate forest policies, legislation, institutional framework and incentives to promote sustainable forest management.

Where forest management plans exist, they are limited to ensuring the sustainable production of wood, without paying attention to the many other products and services that forests offer. Alternative land uses like Agriculture and Real estate developments seems to be financially more attractive in the short run than forest management, motivating deforestation and land use changes. The World Food and Agriculture organization (FAO), helps to identify, test and promote innovative, multipurpose forest management approaches and techniques that respond to mitigating and adapting to a changing climate.

Sustainable forest management means environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of forests for present and future generations. Sustainable forest management addresses forest degradation and deforestation while increasing direct benefits to people and environment. At the social level, sustainable forest management contributes to livelihoods, income generation, and employment. At the environmental level, it contributes to important services such as carbon sequestration (carbon sinks) and water, soil and biodiversity conservation. Managing forests sustainably means increasing their benefits, including timber, food and medicine to meet society needs in a way that conserves maintaining the forest ecosystem as well as climate change mainstreaming for the benefit of the present and future generations.

Good forest conservation management promotes climate change mainstreaming. Forests play a crucial role in the Hydrological cycle, influencing the availability of water, regulating surface and groundwater flows and maintaining high water quality. Forest and trees, in general, reduce water-related risks such as landslides, local floods and droughts and help prevent desertification and salinization.

Our country’s tree cover is below 10 per cent, hence the many adverse effects of climate change like floods, droughts, repetitive crop failures for many years, unreliable rainfall patterns and amounts, ice caps disappearing from our high mountains and frequent outbreaks of both human and livestock diseases- but- our government has set a good target of increasing the forest cover to reach 10 per cent within the soonest time possible. To the general public and all stakeholders ( CSOs, Bilateral and Multilateral partners ) concerted efforts should be in place to help in attaining the 10 per cent forest cover to arrest the negative effects of climate change via the practice of sustainable forest management.

Sustainable forest management and climate change mainstreaming are evolving processes and the parameters defining them change over time based on latest scientific knowledge and societies understanding of the concepts. Forest ecosystems are complex and influenced by numerous external factors; also different regions of the world require different sustainable strategies; therefore the criteria for sustainable forest management must constantly adapt to new circumstances, as well as social, economic, political, cultural and spiritual dimensions. Climate change mainstreaming is essential to address the serious effects of climate change which affect Man and the environments in the world mainly due to anthropogenic reasons.

Our hope of securing the environment while still benefiting from our forest resources therefore lies in formulating policies and strategies that are appropriate for our region and country and are socially acceptable so that communities are not disenfrinchised and our environment is not completely destroyed.

About the Author: Jacob Munoru is a Forest Management Expert working with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility project at the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance

This article was first published on the Daily Nation

PEMBA, Zambia (PAMACC News) - Grace Moonga harvested 115 by 50 Kg bags of maize last season. And it was enough for family food consumption and sale for income generation to support her second year University student son.

But she is afraid that this year’s farming season is turning out negative—a prolonged dry spell affecting her 3-hectare maize field.

“Just look at this crop,” lamentsMoonga, pointing at her severely wilted crop. “It has been 22 days since it last rained here. This is a serious disaster for a widow like me whose only source of income is farming, I don’t even know what will become of my son at the University.”

Since 2007 when her husband died, Moonga has been supporting her six children through smallholder farming. So far, her firstborn son has completed his teaching course, while the university student was only in primary five when his father died.

However, dependency on rainfall is increasingly becoming a risky business for smallholder farmers as erratic rainfall punctuated with prolonged dry spells has become the norm rather than an exception. For instance, the 2015/16 farming season was characterized by the El Nino induced drought. While 2016/17 season restored some hope with normal to above normal rainfall, the 2017/18 season is turning out negative—a prolonged dry spell which according to the Zambia Meteorological Department, has caused substantial moisture deficits and an increased likelihood for adverse crop production.

According to Zambia Meteorological Department, the prolonged dry spell being experienced over Lusaka, Southern, Western and Southern parts of Central and Eastern Provinces have been largely due to atmospheric systems – the consecutive occurrence of deep low-pressure systems and tropical cyclones over the Mozambique channel and the Indian ocean.

Unfortunately, the forecast up to March 2018 remains negative as abnormal dryness has strengthened and expanded, placing additional moisture stress on crops, especially at critical stages of growth.

Nevertheless, good as this forecast may be, it largely remains generic and scientific for smallholder farmers to easily interpret. It is for this reason that climate change development actors have been advocating for improved climate information and other climate-resilient services such as insurance for smallholder farmers.

In Zambia, one such institution working in this area is the World Food Programme (WFP). Under its R4—Rural Resilience Initiative, WFP has installed automated and manual weather stations in selected project areas to facilitate improved meteorological information for smallholder farmers.

Mosco Hamalambo is a trained rain gauge attendant at Sibajene village, one of the 20 manual rain gauge stations dotted around Pemba district. He believes the weather stations have improved farmers’ knowledge especially on the time to plant.

“With this facility, we now have readily available information when we should plant our crops,” Hamalambo told PAMACC News. “Even as we are experiencing this dry spell, we have the information on how much rainfall we have received and how poorly distributed it has been.”

Hamalambosays such information is helpful for comparison with satellite data on which weather index insurance is based—another component of the R4 project where farmers are enrolled for a possible pay-out if they do not receive required amounts of rainfall in a set and agreed window of the farming season.

In terms of amounts of rainfall, 400 mm of rainfall received in the area is enough for optimum production of maize according to Stanley Ndhlovu,

WFP Zambia R4 Coordinator. However, “the challenge has been distribution, it has been very erratic.”It is however not yet clear whether the index would trigger for a pay-out. Close to 4000 farmers are enrolled on the R4 project weather index insurance scheme. 
In the meantime, Grace Moonga is hoping and praying for some heavy downpour as she still believes something could be salvaged from her wilted crop—thanks to Conservation Agriculture (CA) which she practices. Under CA, minimum tillage and mulching practices help to retain moisture for crops to withstand prolonged dry spells.

Considering the elongated dry spell experienced, Moonga knows that what could be salvaged would still not be enough, hence placing her last hope in weather insurance. “From what we were taught about how this insurance works, I am hopeful that we might receive a pay-out this year,” she says enthusiastically.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance is today holding a meeting on climate change resilience and adaptation in Embu County. 

The meeting that is being organized under the Trocaire-funded Community Resilience And Climate Change Adaptation project is geared at engaging stakeholders including policymakers to develop climate change policies that take Natural Resource Management into consideration.

The meetings come just a day after similar meetings were held in Kitui and Tharaka Nithi counties with a view of building community resilience to climate change.

PACJA, being the most knowledgeable African civil society coalition in the context of climate policy influence, is working with key stakeholders in Tharaka Nithi, Embu and Kitui Counties to establish County “best fit’’ Climate Change policies in each the three Counties.

In implementing the project, PACJA’s role is to support community members and Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups to participate in and have influence over decision-making processes on NRM, agricultural development and climate change adaptation at community and County levels, in particular policy-making, planning and budget allocation as well as support partners to influence County and national government departments to develop climate-sensitive policies, laws, plans and budgets that support community resilience and adaptive capacity.

PACJA further strives to provide technical support to government officials at the County level to develop policies, legislation, plans and budgets that support climate change adaptation, climate-sensitive resilience building and natural resource management.

Pan African Climate Justice Alliance Secretary General Mithika Mwenda has been elected vice chairman of the Institutional Collaboration Platform (ICP) of the Climate Research for Development (CR4D) in Africa.

The CR4D in Africa Platform is an Africa-led initiative that was launched to strengthen links between climate science research and climate information needs in support development planning in Africa.

It was the outcome of the African Climate Conference 2013 that was held in Arusha, Tanzania, which brought together more than 300 participants drawn from top African climate scientists, policymakers, climate service providers, and practitioners to discuss the state of African Climate science and existing gaps in climate knowledge.

Participants at the ACC-2013 recommended the establishment of an African Climate Research Agenda for Climate Services and Development in order to advance new frontiers of African climate research, focusing on four priority areas of Creation of co-designed multi-disciplinary research to improve forecast skills and reliability, Filling gaps in multi-sectorial and multi-disciplinary data sets for sector-specific vulnerability and impacts assessments, Enhancing Africa’s scientific and institutional capacities and networks to undertake cutting edge user-drive climate research and Fostering effective collaboration and interactions among climate science, services, policy, and practice communities in order to improve mainstreaming of climate services in decision-making. 

The initiative is supported by partnership between African Climate Policy Center (ACPC) of UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology (AMCOMET), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), with the ACPC providing Secretariat services. 

 

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance has welcomed the commitments by developed states and private businesses to move away from fossil fuels toward greener enterprises in a bid to mitigate climate change.

Speaking in Paris, France during the One Planet Summit, PACJA Secretary General Mithika Mwenda lauded the commitments by private organisations to mitigate climate change, saying it was time rich nations took responsibility for the part they played in speeding up climate change.

Here are five of the major areas covered during the summit:

  • Oil and gas

The World Bank said it would stop financing oil and gas exploration and extraction — representing about two percent of its current portfolio — from 2019, becoming the first multilateral bank to take such a step.

From next year the bank will publish a yearly index of greenhouse gas-related projects it provides funding for and will price in carbon costs when it comes to assessing future investments.

  • Coal

Insurance giant Axa announced it will cease investing in any company involved in the construction of coal plants and will withdraw about 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion) from the sector.

The French firm also said it will pull 700 million euros from projects linked to tar sands pipeline projects, and put nine billion euros into "green" infrastructural investment through 2020.

  • Investors

More than 200 large-scale investors, including HSBC and the major US pension fund CalPERS, have agreed to put pressure on the world's 100 most polluting companies to persuade them to reduce emissions.

The "Climate Action 100+" initiative will target oil giants such as BP and Chevron as well as transport behemoths Airbus and Ford and mining groups ArcelorMittal, BHP Billiton and Glencore.

  • Aid

The French Development Agency (AFD) signed agreements with a clutch of African states including Niger and Tunisia to help them in their fight against climate change, including countering the effects of erosion.

Under the agreements, 30 million euros will be set aside for 15 developing counties over four years.

  • Farming

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the European Commission promised to earmark more than $600 million for agricultural research to combat the effects of climate change.

The Gates Foundation itself pledged $315 million to help the poorest players in the sector, notably in Africa, adapt to global warming, while the European Commission pledged $318 million.

The One Planet Summit was convened by President Emmanuel Macron of France, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

More information from AFP

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, with funding support from Trocaire through the Irish Aid 2017-2021 Kenya programme, on Monday conducted a training on energy policies and adoption of available technologies in Mwingi, Kitui County.

The training that was held under the project “Enhancing Policy Change on Natural Resource Management and Climate Change at the National and County level’’ brought together 40 participants drawn from the Natural Resource Management (NRM) group and Community Disaster Management Rapid Response (CDMRR).

The groups were taken from Ngumi and Ngomeni Wards in Mwingi Sub-County in Kitui County. During the training, the participants were trained on to the existing policies at the county and national level. The participants also gained knowledge in the following critical topics: Energy Efficient Cooking stoves, Efficient Charcoal production (including Kitui county charcoal production regulation), Solar power, Biogas production, and Biomass.

The participants learned that by adopting clean energy technologies they would reap immense benefits including reduced time and cost needed to get energy services while protecting their local environment and subsequently, contributing to hunger and poverty reduction in their communities.

Speaking after the conclusion of the session, the participants noted that they are happy with the new knowledge and skills acquired during the training, adding that after the training they developed key policy message to address to their policymakers.   A similar training is ongoing in Ishira-Embu County.

Photo Gallery

 

By Jocelyn Timperley for Carbon Brief

Climate change was again placed at the centre of global diplomacy over the past two weeks as diplomats and ministers gathered in Bonn, Germany, for the latest annual round of United Nations climate talks.

COP23, the second “conference of the parties” since the Paris Agreement was struck in 2015, promised to be a somewhat technical affair as countries continued to negotiate the finer details of how the agreement will work from 2020 onwards.

However, it was also the first set of negotiations since the US, under the presidency of Donald Trump, announced its intention earlier this year to withdraw from the Paris deal. And it was the first COP to be hosted by a small-island developing state with Fiji taking up the presidency, even though it was being held in Bonn.

Carbon Brief covers all the summit’s key outcomes and talking points.

Two US delegations

After Trump’s decision in June that he wanted to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement, all eyes were on the US official delegation to see how they would navigate the negotiations.

During the first week of the talks, a civil society group known as the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance called for the US delegation to be barred from attending the negotiations, due to its decision to leave the Paris deal.

Meanwhile, a seemingly pointed message was sent on day two of the COP, when Syria announced it would sign the Paris Agreement. This now leaves the US as the only country in the world stating it doesn’t intend to honour the landmark deal.

However, the delegation itself kept a relatively low profile – bar a now infamous“cleaner fossil fuels” side event which anti-Trump protesters disrupted for seven minutes, singing: “We proudly stand up until you keep it in the ground…”).

This was the moment when the protest started around me at the Trump administration event at #COP23 pic.twitter.com/3yx3deO9Q4

— Leo Hickman (@LeoHickman) November 13, 2017

The US delegation co-chaired a working group with China on Nationally Determined Contributions (country pledges, often known by the acronym NDCs) with reportedly high success. It’s worth noting, though, that many of the US negotiators are the same officials who have been representing the US at COPs for years. They seemingly continued their negotiations with little change in attitude, albeit possibly taking harder stances on issues such as “loss and damage” and finance.

There was a further chaotic appearance in the media centre by Trump adviser George David Banks, who vowed that his priority at COP23 was to fight “differentiation” (sometimes called “bifurcation”), namely, the division of countries into industrialised “annex one” countries and the rest in the UN climate arena. However, beyond this, the behaviour of the US delegation did not differ significantly from previous years.

Cracking @KarlMathiesen pic of a #COP23 huddle… starring @deantscott@LeoHickman + @MattMcGrathBBC https://t.co/w8aZFxJNV6pic.twitter.com/cgwg2rdqe4

— Ed King (@edking_I) November 15, 2017

Importantly, though, the official US delegation were not the only group from the US drawing attention at the COP.

An alternative “We Are Still In” delegation set up a large pavilion at their US Climate Action Centre just outside the main venue for the talks.

This group included major sub-national actors, such as former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California governor Jerry Brown, keen to prove there are many US voices against Trump’s anti-climate policies.

Their “America’s Pledge” report outlined how their coalition of cities, states and businesses represented over half the US economy. At the report’s packed launch event, Bloomberg even argued the group should should be given a seat at the climate negotiating table.

COP23 video: Does Donald Trump make limiting global warming to 1.5C impossible? Dr James Hansen, Dr Bill Hare, Rachel Cleetus, Catherine McKenna, Bill Peduto and Rachel Kyte respond.

Stronger China?

Another talking point throughout the talks was the extent to which the US’s withdrawal from its climate leadership role seen under Barack Obama has emboldened China to take the role on itself.

One concrete way China has begun to play such a role is in the Ministerial on Climate Action (MOCA) coalition, a joint group consisting of the EU, China and Canada, conceived during last year’s COP after the US election result came in.

Li Shuo, senior global policy advisor at Greenpeace East Asia, tells Carbon Brief:

It is worth noting that this is one of the only high-level climate processes that is a collaboration between developed and developing countries. It is also a very concrete case in point that China is lending support to the international climate process as part of collective/shared leadership.

 

The days when you looked to one country to be able to actually lead the transition are gone. We’re now in a new era, where we are actually seeing more shared distributed leadership emerging, where 200 countries have collectively contributed to the global effort.

Coal phase-out

A second major event at the COP was the launch of the “Powering Past Coal Alliance”, led by the UK and Canada.

More than 20 countries and other sub-national actors joined the alliance, including Denmark, Finland, Italy, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Mexico and the Marshall Islands; as well as the US states of Washington and Oregon. It aims to top 50 members by this time next year.

While the alliance notes in its declaration that “analysis shows that coal phase-out is needed no later than by 2030 in the OECD and EU28, and no later than by 2050 in the rest of the world” to meet the Paris Agreement, it does not commit signatories to any particular phase-out date. It also does not commit the signatories to ending the financing of unabated coal power stations, rather just “restricting” it.

Claire Perry, the UK’s climate minister, travelled to Bonn to launch the initiative alongside Canada’s environment minister Catherine McKenna. The UK has previously pledged to phase out unabated coal by 2025, while Canada has a 2030 deadline.

Claire Perry, @cathmckenna @MLiebreich et al preparing for the launch of the “Powering Past Coal Alliance” at #COP23 pic.twitter.com/9W4TmTlgNm

— Leo Hickman (@LeoHickman) November 16, 2017

The US did not sign onto the pledge and several other big coal countries were notable by their absence, including Germany, Poland, Australia, China and India.

Meanwhile, German chancellor Angela Merkel manoeuvred a delicate balancing act at the talks between trying to maintain her climate leadership on the world stage and wrangling with ongoing coalition talks between her own Christian Democratic Union (CDU), and the Green party and Free Democrats (FDP).

Coal-phase out has become a significant focal point for campaigners at UNFCCC summits and hopes that Merkel would commit Germany to a firm date in her speech to the conference were dashed.

Separately, Michael Bloomberg used a side-event to pledge $50m to expand his anti-coal US campaign into Europe.

Pre-2020 action

The official talks themselves finished during the early hours of Saturday morning, following some last-minute wrangling over the ever-fraught issue of climate finance. (See Carbon Brief’s “map” of finance from multilateral climate funds published on the day the COP started.)

One key conflict to emerge in the early days of the conference, however, was pre-2020 climate action.

This centred on a developing country concern that rich countries had not done enough to meet their commitments made for the period up to 2020. These commitments are separate to the Paris Agreement, which applies only post-2020.

There were two main concerns: first, developed countries had not yet delivered the promised $100bn per year in climate finance by 2020 agreed in 2009 at Copenhagen; second, the Doha Amendment, a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol for the years leading up to 2020, had still not been ratified by enough countries to bring it into force.

Developing countries, including China and India, were particularly irked that pre-2020 action did not have a formal space on the COP23 negotiation agenda. They insisted space must be made to discuss it, arguing that the meeting of pre-2020 commitments was a key part of building trust in the rest of negotiations.

Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace international, says the pre-2020 ambition issue is really about whether developed countries who committed to take the lead in the original United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) back in 1992 have been doing so, and whether they’ve also taken specific measures to reduce their own emissions before 2020. She tells Carbon Brief:

I think many developed countries wanted to just kind of ignore that and focus on post-2020, but developing countries said “no”, we actually need to peak global emissions by 2020, so we want that to be a big topic here.

At first, many developed countries dismissed these demands. However, in the end they conceded, and pre-2020 ambition and implementation formed a major part of the COP23 decision text agreed and published early on Saturday morning.

Developing countries lost the battle for an agenda item on pre-2020 actions, but won the war because pre-2020 ambition is now embedded throughout the negotiations #COP23 pic.twitter.com/OS8jJKwNiA

— Mohamed Adow (@mohadow) November 15, 2017

This included an agreement to form additional stocktaking sessions in 2018 and 2019 to review progress on reducing emissions, as well as two assessments of climate finance to be published in 2018 and 2020. These submissions will then be pulled together in a synthesis report on pre-2020 ambition ahead of COP24, which takes place in December next year in Katowice, Poland.

Letters will also be sent to countries signed up to the Kyoto Protocol who have not yet ratified the Doha Amendment urging them to deposit their instruments of acceptance as soon as possible. Several European countries even ratified the Doha Amendment during the COP, including Germany and the UK.

Poland, the country which has so far held the EU back from ratifying as a whole, also announced its plans to ratify the amendment this year. The EU, which is treated as a party under the UNFCCC, has also suggested it may ratify the deal without Poland.

Fiji’s COP

With Fiji being the first small-island state to host the climate talks, hopes were high that it would give added impetus to the negotiations.

High-level speakers on Wednesday were preceded by a speech from a 12-year old Fijian schoolboy called Timoci Naulusala, who reminded delegates that “it’s not about how, or who, but it’s about what you can do as an individual”.

The UN Climate Conference #COP23 finished on Saturday, but this 12-year-old from Fiji’s message will stick with attendees for a long time. pic.twitter.com/wv4yXn7sYg

— United Nations (@UN) November 18, 2017

Opinions were mixed on Fiji’s effectiveness as the talk’s president, but two outcomes it pushed for were touted as significant achievements.

These were the Gender Action Plan, which highlights the role of women in climate action and promotes gender equality in the process, and the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, which aims to support the exchange of experience and sharing of best practices on mitigation and adaptation.

Fiji also launched the Ocean Pathway Partnership, which aims to strengthen the inclusion of oceans within the UNFCCC process.

Talanoa dialogue

Countries agreed two years ago in Paris that there should be a one-off moment in 2018 to “take stock” of how climate action was progressing. This information will be used to inform the next round of NDCs, due in 2020.

This way of recognising “enhanced ambition” – a term heard a lot at COPs – was seen as an important precursor of the Paris Agreement’s longer-term “ratchet mechanism”, which aims to increase ambition on a five-year incremental cycle.

Originally called the “facilitative dialogue”, the name of this one-off process in 2018 was changed to “Talanoa dialogue” this year under the Fijian COP presidency. This was to reflect a traditional approach to discussions used in Fiji for an “inclusive, participatory and transparent” process.

COP23 video: What needs to happen by COP24 to keep the Paris Agreement on track? Rachel Cleetus, Li Shuo, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal and Carlos Rittl are among those who respond.

The final “approach” of the Talanoa dialogue was included as a four-page Annex to the main COP23 outcome decision.

It will be structured around three questions – “Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?” – but also includes new details, such as a decision to accept inputs from non-party stakeholders as well as parties, a decision to set up an online platform to receive inputs, and a new emphasis on efforts being made in the pre-2020 period.

It also pointedly says the dialogue “should not lead to discussions of a confrontational nature” with individual parties being singled out. Naoyuki Yamagishi, head of climate and energy at WWF Japan, tells Carbon Brief:

Talanoa dialogue was supposed to be a kind of opportunity-oriented, constructive and solution-oriented conversation. These kind of conversations, raising ambition conversations, tend to be very hard conversations in the UNFCCC context. Talanoa dialogue is one attempt to overcome that and create a space to try to be positive about it.

The Talanoa dialogue was also referred to in the main COP23 outcome:

According to Yamagishi, “a careful balance” seems to have been struck between parties. He notes, however, that the final text makes it difficult for signatories to challenge the way the dialogue is organised, since they “welcome” it “with appreciation” and have also officially “launched” it. It’s worth noting that last-minute changes also saw that it “started” in January 2018 rather than at COP23 itself, as per earlier drafts.

The preparatory phase of the Talanoa dialogue will now begin over the coming year, ahead of the political phase conducted by ministers at COP24 in Poland. A key moment for the Talanoa dialogue will also be the publication of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 1.5C special report in September 2018.

COP24 will see the conclusion of the Talanoa dialogue with a “political phase”, as illustrated with this UNFCCC diagram.

Paris ‘rulebook’

As was the case at COP22 in Marrakesh last year, negotiations in this session centred around attempts to make significant progress on developing the Paris “rulebook”. This will establish the more technical rules and processes needed to fulfill the Paris Agreement’s ambition.

These discussions are overseen by the Ad-hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement, or APA. Its work covers several areas, including setting the framework of country pledges (known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs), reporting of adaptation efforts, the transparent reporting of action taken at a “global stocktake” in 2023, and how to monitor compliance with the Paris Agreement.

The deadline for this work is next year’s COP in Poland, set to be held in December 2018. But the goal in Bonn was to create a draft of these implementation guidelines, with options and disagreements outlined as clearly as possible to show what still needs resolving.

The final COP23 text recognises that an additional negotiating session may be needed in 2018 between the May intersessional and COP24 in December to ensure the Paris rulebook is finished on time. This will be decided during May’s scheduled intersessional meeting, although early drafts of the text suggested “August/September 2018” as being the preferred time for such an additional session.

NDCs; Agenda item 3

A 179-page document pulling together parties’ positions on information needed to communicate national climate action plans (NDCs) was released earlier in the week.

Deep breath, everyone… #COP23 co-chairs have just released “preliminary material in preparation for the first iteration of the informal note” for Agenda item 3. It summarises parties’ views on contents/accounting of NDCs. And it runs to 179 pages…. https://t.co/SLtpshfWBY

— Leo Hickman (@LeoHickman) November 13, 2017

The size of the text indicated significant differences still remained on how NDCs should be organised, delivered and updated. This led to some disappointment.

Yamide Dagnet, project director on international climate action at the World Resources Institute, says NDC communication was the area of the Paris rulebook with least progress so far. She tells Carbon Brief:

Countries got stuck because there was no agreement on how to tackle the issue of scope and differentiation, as well as flexibility. So this is how we landed with a 180-page document that includes all countries’ views. There needs to be a streamlining. We need to translate those views into some sort of options for each issue.

Global stocktake (Agenda item 6)

More progress was made on the global stocktaking exercise – a more formal version of the 2018 Talanoa dialogue – which is embedded in the Paris Agreement and set to take place in 2023 and every five years thereafter. Discussions centred on equity, as well as the scope of the stocktake – for example, whether it will include loss and damage.

Transparency (Agenda item 5)

Transparency negotiations under the Paris rulebook cover how compliance will be monitored, in line with the “enhanced transparency framework” set out by the Paris Agreement.

Dagnet says these talks made significant progress, resulting in one set of text, albeit 46-page long. She tells Carbon Brief:

Obviously, the format and the final format will probably be a political conversation. We need to maintain that balance next year, but at least we can really witness some really good progress on transparency.

(Note that Carbon Brief’s article about the Bonn intersessional in May 2017 explained what all the different “agenda items” refer to.)

Fights over finance

Resolution of several issues during the final day of COP23 left many hoping the meeting would (uniquely) end on time. However, disputes over two finance issues prevented this from happening, with the conference finally wrapping up at 5.30am on Saturday morning.

Last-minute tensions unfolded over the Paris Agreement’s Article 9.5, which asks developed countries to report on their flows of climate finance to developing countries.

However, as with the tensions over “pre-2020” discussed above, there was no formal space on COP23’s agenda to discuss how to develop the guidelines for it, with developed countries arguing that demands were beyond what was originally agreed.

In the end, negotiators settled on allowing extra time to discuss this issue at the intersessional meetings between now and COP24 in December.

A second sticking point on finance was the Adaptation Fund, a relatively small but politically significant multilateral fund for small-scale projects. Parties had previously agreed that it “should” serve under the Paris Agreement, but the specifics of this had not been decided.

Late into the night on the final day of COP23, member countries of the Kyoto Protocol, which the fund currently serves, at last formally agreed that the fund “shall” serve the Paris Agreement.

The Adaptation Fund also received more than $90m (including $50m from Germany) in new pledges during the COP. The same amount was also pledged to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF).

Separately, French president Emmanuel Macron told COP23 delegates during his speech that Europe will cover any shortfall in funding for the IPCC. This follows the US decision to pull its funding of the science body. “It will not miss a single euro,” said Macron. The UK also announced it was pledging to double its contribution.

Loss and damage

The Paris Agreement includes a section recognising the importance of averting – and addressing – the loss and damage caused by climate change. It also says parties should enhance “understanding, action and support” on this key topic, which has become somewhat of a bugbear at negotiations in recent years.

To some, it has now become the “third pillar” of the climate action, alongside mitigation and adaptation. But unlike mitigation and adaptation – with their promised $100bn-a-year in climate finance – there are currently no sources of finance for loss and damage.

The workstream to create the Paris rulebook currently doesn’t include loss and damage as an agenda point, meaning loss and damage is not given a major space in the political UNFCCC process. This is despite demands from developing countries that new additional finance will be needed for it.

COP23 did include discussions on loss and damage as part of a separate, more low-level technical process called the Warsaw International Mechanism (or “WIM”). Originally agreed in 2013 at COP19 in Poland, this is a separate UNFCCC workstream to the Paris Agreement, with its own executive committee.

The WIM agreed on a new “five-year rolling workplan” for the mechanism, finalising a proposal from October. However, the WIM has yet to bring forward any concrete plan on finance – the key difficulty in loss-and-damage discussions. A one-off “expert dialogue” was also agreed for the May intersessional in 2018, which will inform the next review of the WIM in 2019.

Sven Harmeling, climate change advocacy coordinator at CARE international, tells Carbon Brief that shifting the finance discussion to 2019 is “wholly inadequate” in light of the increasing impacts facing so many people.

A stronger emphasis on enhancing action and support, as well as identifying new sources for additional finance, is urgently needed on loss and damage, he says, alongside initiatives such as the new InsuResilience Global Partnership launched at the talks this year.

Agriculture

One notable, yet low-profile outcome from the conference this year was the end of a deadlock on agriculture which had lasted for years.

Parties agreed to work over the next few years on a series of issues linking climate change and agriculture. They agreed to streamline two separate technical discussions on this topic into one process.

Countries have now been asked to submit their views on what should be included in the work by 31 March 2018, with options including how to improve soil carbon and fertility, how to assess adaptation and resilience and the creation of better livestock management systems.

Jason Funk, associate director for land use at the Center for Carbon Removal, says the decision itself, rather than what it says, is the most significant part of the agreement. He tells Carbon Brief:

I’ve watched the parties deliberate and negotiate over agriculture issues since 2011 and they have been close many times. But this is the first time they have reached consensus about how to work on agriculture. The stakes are very high and I have witnessed the deep divides among the parties on issues that connect agriculture and climate change. As I see it, this decision signals that they have reached a level of trust and common understanding about each others’ views, and that trust and understanding will pave the way for them to work successfully together from here forward.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) welcomed the outcome on agriculture, calling it a “major step” to address the need to adapt agriculture to climate change and meet a growing global demand for food.

Meanwhile, earlier on in the week during the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) discussions at COP23, a skirmish broke out over the best way to account for the warming impact of sources and sinks of greenhouse ages.

However, no clear resolution was reached and the discussion has now been pushed to June 2019. Observers say this is something to watch at future meetings.

The ‘gateway’

A proposal submitted by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and six others asked for a new agenda item to consider a new “gateway”. This would create a UN-sanctioned emissions trading platform designed to “to encourage, measure, report, verify and account for greater ambition from corporate entities, investors, regions, states/provinces, cities and civil society organizations”. But this led to concern among some that this could increase corporate influence over the UN talks.

Similar concerns emerged during the first week at COP23 with a proposal from Ukraine to bring energy corporates closer into the UN climate process by slotting energy multinationals into an “intermediate layer” between the UNFCCC and national governments.

Road ahead in 2018

With the conclusion of COP23, the clock really begins to tick for the major deadlines and events in 2018. With the process for the Talanoa dialogue now essentially agreed, with it taking place throughout next year, there still remains much work to do before the Paris rulebook is agreed upon at COP24 in Poland.

Finally, Brazil has put in an official bid to host COP25 in 2019, which is scheduled to be hosted in Latin America and the Caribbean (Argentina and Jamaica were also said to be in the running). Brazil’s offer was initially “accepted with appreciation”, suggesting it is a frontrunner. However, a last-minute intervention meant it has now been put out to consultation.

Meanwhile, Turkey and Italy have both signalled their interest to host COP26 in 2020 – another key year with the next round of NDCs due to be submitted.

This article was produced by Carbon Brief and shared under a Creative Commons licence

 

BONN Germany (PAMACC News) Non-state actors following negotiations at the Bonn climate talks also known as COP 23 have deplored the resort to empty words on climate change by global leaders during the high-level segment of the two-week conference.
 
Fijian Prime Minister and COP 23 President Frank Bainimarama at the high-level segment called on the country representatives to remain focused to ensure a successful outcome to the conference. “Future generations are counting on us. Let us act now”, he said.
 
Sequel to Bainimarama’s speech, a young boy from Fiji recounted the story of how his home was destroyed in a recent natural disaster, asking government representatives in the room “What can you do?” to protect the climate. “Climate change is here to stay, unless you do something about it”, he told the delegates.
 
Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that recent extreme weather events have shown that time was pressing. “I have no doubt that this urgency warns us to make haste and act decisively”, he said.
 
The “historic climate agreement” reached in Paris in 2015 and “the path we have taken since” must remain irreversible. “Paris can only be called a breakthrough if we follow up on the agreement with actions”, said Steinmeier.
 
Hopes for a strong statement on Germany’s climate goals and the future role of coal were dashed as Chancellor Angela Merkel disappointed only called on the world to walk the talk on climate at the global conference in Bonn.
 
“This conference must send out the serious signal that the Paris Agreement was a starting point, but the work has only begun.” Today’s pledges in the nationally-determined contributions were not enough to keep global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, she said. “Now it’s about walking the talk.”
 
Speaking after the chancellor, French President Emmanuel Macron, said that the summit should send the message that “we can all come together” to mobilise the necessary public and private funds to act on climate.
 
To guarantee quality science needed to make climate policy decisions, Macron proposed that the EU should fill the financing gap for the IPCC left open by the US administration’s decision to reduce funding.
 
“France will meet that challenge, and I would like to see the largest number of European countries by our side,” said Macron. “All together, we can compensate for the loss of US funding.”
 
Reacting almost immediately after the high-level segment, civil society groups from across the world described their statements as empty words with no concrete plan of action.
 
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, (PACJA) accused the leaders of “playing hide and seek” with the lives of Africans who according to them are being cut short daily due to historic and ongoing actions of the developed world against the climate. 
 
What we need, according to John Bideri, co-Chair of the Alliance, are “enhanced actions on the provision of $100 billion per year up to 2020 and a new finance goal which should reflect the scientific requirements and needs of African countries.”
 
“Advocacy-tainted speeches by leaders of polluter countries will not keep global temperatures from unprecedented levels, what is important now is a finance goal that will first and foremost help African countries to adapt, mitigate and cover loss and damage arising from climate change impacts,” Mithika Mwenda, PACJA’s Secretary General added
 
“This message from the host of a world climate conference must sound cruel to the poorest countries most strongly affected by climate change”, commented Oxfam Germany’s climate expert Jan Kowalzig.
 
Germany ran the risk of missing its climate goals, while in Berlin “three out of four parties to a potential Jamaica coalition’ block the measures needed to prevent such an embarrassing failure”.
 
Greenpeace Germany’s Managing Director Sweelin Heuss said that Merkel “avoided to give the only answer she had to give in Bonn: When will Germany fully exit coal?” Without a coal exit, Germany could not meet the pledge it made in Paris. “That's a disastrous signal coming out of this climate conference”, said Heuss.
 
Representatives from science, climate activists, and small island states appealed to Merkel to meet the country’s 2020 CO2 reduction target ahead of her much-anticipated speech.
 
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), said Germany had the ability to quit coal use but instead there was the “perverse” situation where it generated power from coal, which then was exported.
 
“Angela Merkel has been a great climate champion but her credibility is hanging in the balance,” Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, said.
 
President Hilda Heine, of the Marshall Islands, added: “We are just two metres above sea level. For Germany to phase-out coal and follow a 1.5°C pathway would be a signal of hope to us and all other nations in danger from climate change.”

As the COP winds to a close Friday, speculations are rife that the conference will end without substantially addressing relevant concerns on temperature limits, finance and other means of implementation for the Paris Agreement.

This article first appeared on the PAMACC website

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