UNEA-3's Opening plenary UNEA-3's Opening plenary Over 4,000 stakeholders today (December 4) converged on the green terrains of the UN office in Nairobi, Kenya to witness the opening ceremony of the 3rd United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA3).
This year’s edition of the assembly, which is the highest –level decision-making body on the environment, aspires to consider new policies, innovations and financing capable of steering the world “Towards a Pollution-Free Planet.”
The UNEA-3 brings together governments, entrepreneurs, and activists who will share ideas and commit to taking positive action against the menace of pollution. UNEA-3 aims to deliver a number of tangible commitments to end the pollution of air, land, waterways, and oceans, and to safely manage chemicals and waste, including a negotiated long-term programme of action against pollution that is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The High-Level Segment of UNEA-3, which will take place from 5-6 December, is also expected to endorse a political declaration on pollution, aimed at outlining policy measures for, inter alia: addressing pollution to protect human health while protecting the developmental aspirations of current and future generations.
The ministerial segment will debut the interactive ‘Leadership Dialogues,’ aimed at providing participants with an opportunity for high-level engagement and discussion on how to achieve a pollution-free planet. Other UNEA-3 outcomes will include voluntary commitments by governments, private sector entities and civil society organizations to address pollution, and the ‘#BeatPollution Pledge,’ a collection of individual commitments to clean up the planet.
Discussions at UNEA-3 will draw on a background report by the UNEP Executive Director, titled ‘Towards a Pollution-Free Planet.’ The Report explores the latest evidence, as well as responses and gaps in addressing pollution challenges, and outlines opportunities that the 2030 Agenda presents to accelerate action on tackling pollution.
Welcoming delegates to the assembly, Prof. Judy Wakhungu, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources, declared that the assembly’s focus on beating pollution is very timely as pollution increases with every effort to provide services to our citizens.
“It is time, the world addressed this challenge without delay and agree on a common goal as a pollution-free planet cannot be achieved without working together,” she said. The environment is our responsibility; it is the source of our well-being. The fate of our world depends on the quality of the care we give it,” Prof Wakhungu added.
“Our collective goal must be to embrace ways to reduce pollution drastically,” said Dr. Edgar Gutiérrez, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica and the President of the 2017 assembly. “Only through stronger collective action, beginning in Nairobi this week, can we start cleaning up the planet globally and save countless lives.”
New report on the environment
According to a new UN Environment report, everyone on earth is affected by pollution. The report entitled “Executive Director’s Report: Towards a Pollution-Free Planet” is the meeting’s basis for defining the problems and laying out new action areas.
The report’s recommendations – political leadership and partnerships at all levels, action on the worst pollution, lifestyle changes, low-carbon tech investments, and advocacy – are based on analysis of pollution in all its forms, including air, land, freshwater, marine, chemical and waste pollution.
Overall, environmental degradation causes nearly one in four of all deaths worldwide, or 12.6 million people a year, and the widespread destruction of key ecosystems. Over a dozen resolutions are on the table at the assembly, including new approaches to tackle air pollution, which is the single biggest environmental killer, claiming 6.5 million lives each year.
Over 80% of cities operate below UN health standards on air quality. The report reveals that exposure to lead in paint, which causes brain damage to 600,000 children annually, and water and soil pollution are also key focus areas.
Also, over 80 percent of the world’s wastewater is released into the environment without treatment, poisoning the fields where we grow our food and the lakes and rivers that provide drinking water to 300 million people. According to the recently published report by the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, welfare losses due to pollution are estimated at over US$4.6 trillion each year, equivalent to 6.2 percent of global economic output.
“Given the grim statistics on how we are poisoning ourselves and our planet, bold decisions from the UN Environment Assembly are critical,” said head of UN Environment, Erik Solheim. “That is as true for threats like pollution as it is for climate change and the many other environmental threats we face.”
Corroborating the report, Ibrahim Jibril, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment in his statement at the plenary averred that “pollution affects the air, soil, rivers, seas, and health of Nigerians in an adverse way even though the actual cost has not been determined. Trans-boundary pollution, according to Jibril, “accounts for 28% of disease burdens in Africa.” The UNEA-3 will run from 4-6 December.
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
- Stronger China?
- Coal phase-out
- Pre-2020 action
- Fiji’s COP
- Talanoa dialogue
- Paris ‘rulebook’
- Fights over finance
- Loss and damage
- The ‘gateway’
- Road ahead in 2018
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…”).
— 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.
— 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.
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.
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.
— 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).
Separately, Michael Bloomberg used a side-event to pledge $50m to expand his anti-coal US campaign into Europe.
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.
— 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.
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”.
— 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - African countries are already spending up to 20 percent of their total needs presently on climate adaptation, which is more than their fair share without any support from the international community, a new study by the United Nations has revealed.
Early findings from the study jointly commissioned by the UNDP Regional Office for Africa, and the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to review African commitment to adaptation has therefore dismissed the insinuation that African countries are not investing in their own climate adaptation responses and are instead waiting on the international community as recipients of support.
“African countries are already spending between 2 to 9 percent of their Gross Domestic Product on adaptation, thus reducing the potential impact of climate change by more than 20 percent,” Dr Johnson Nkem, a Senior Climate Adaptation expert at the ACPC told PAMACC News at the ongoing climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany.
The UN study is being implemented by two United Kingdom centres; Climate Scrutiny and Mokoro, to provide estimates of Africa’s public expenditure on adaptation as a proportion of the total cost for adaptation.
Although the level of investment as a proportion of GDP expenditure varies among countries, it ranges between 2-9 percent of GDP; and represents more than other forms of expenditure in public services such as healthcare and education.
“This contribution is significantly higher than the adaptation resource flow from international sources,” said Nkem.
The study therefore recommends that the disproportionate share of investment in adaptation as opposed to its smallest share of contribution to the global Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, needs to be fully recognised and boosted under global financing mechanism for climate response, especially under the implementation of the nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
Some of the study’s key findings are that, African countries are already making a major contribution to adaptation that constitutes; that for Africa as a whole, the estimated adaptation gap is about 80 percent; and that the adaptation gap is greater than 90% in nine countries. Most of these countries face major exposure and sensitivity to climate change risks as well as fiscal challenges.
Countries that have reduced the potential impact of climate change by more than 20 percent, include those with low climate change risks like Liberia, Namibia and Zimbabwe; high expenditure, for example Ethiopia, Gambia, Zambia; and lower risk and good expenditure countries like Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda.
The objectives of the Review of African Commitment to Adaptation was to provide some initial estimates of the current spending on adaptation by African governments, and to assess the extent to which this funding meets the scale of the adaptation challenge as determined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other assessments.
According to Nkem Ndi, there is a growing political will and socio-economic motivation in addressing climate change in Africa’s development agenda as demonstrated by the level of public expenditure on adaptation to climate change in the continent.
He pointed out that most adaptation expenditure in Africa is primarily linked to development expenditure that provides good benefits with current climate conditions.
Estimates of the adaptation expenditure were provided by classifying the most recent public finance data, preferably actual expenditure data rather than budget data, if it is available.
Actual data for 10 countries, and data obtained from the internet for additional 24 countries were used for the analyses in this study. The entire analyses in the study does not include expenditure by development partners that is outside the budget.
The study notes that despite its miniscule share of responsibility for the causes of climate change, Africa has always been labelled as a tenuous recipient of development assistance, with unending expectations of support in addressing climate impacts on its development.
While this stigma is baseless, it remains to be fully disbarred using empirical studies demonstrating regional investments for climate adaptation by the countries.
BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - Investors have been beckoned to turn attention to agricultural climate action to support the sustainable livelihoods of small-scale farmers. The drive is seen as pathways to unlock much greater potential to curb emissions and protect people against climate change, experts said at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn.
German government officials said it was time to invest faster, wider and further in agriculture to give small scale farmers a voice and potential to fight against climate change.
“Agriculture is a key factor for the sustainability of rural areas, the responsibility for food security and its potential to offer climate change solutions is enormous,” Christian Schmidt, Germany’s Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture, said during the session opening.
Different speakers at the session agreed that it was time for investors and governments to direct far more resources to the agriculture sector as a key strategy to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the inextricably linked 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“Countries now have the opportunity to transform their agricultural sectors to achieve food security for all through sustainable agriculture and strategies that boost resource-use efficiency, conserve and restore biodiversity and natural resources, and combat the impacts of climate change,” said René Castro, Assistant-Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
For the livestock sector, for example FAO estimates that emissions could be readily reduced by about 30 percent with the adoption of best practices.
Extreme climate impacts also disproportionately affect small-scale farmers, pastoralists and fishing and forest communities who still provide the bulk of the planet’s food. Supporting these communities with innovative solutions both to reduce their emissions and protect their communities also meets many of the objectives of literally every one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
So far, FAO has released a new Sourcebook on Climate-Smart agriculture detailing some actions needed to transform the agriculture sector. The book, launched at the event, features knowledge and stories about actual projects to guide policymakers and programme managers to make the agricultural sectors more sustainable and productive while also contributing to food security and lower carbon intensity.
The Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), an organizer of the Agriculture Action day announced they will work in the next few years to create the conditions for greater agricultural climate action. They aim to help give countries the confidence to set realistic yet ambitious targets through the next revision of their national climate plans - Nationally Determined Contributions.
“Agriculture is a large source of powerful greenhouse gases like methane and other short-lived climate pollutants but has great potential to store carbon and reduce greenhouse gases in our lifetime, that’s why we support and advocate for countries to improve their livestock emissions inventories,” said Helena Molin Valdes, Head of the CCAC Secretariat.
A number of other agriculture-based solutions for addressing climate change were also presented at the event. Discussions involved participants from governments, civil society, the private sector, small scale and young farmers centered on livestock, traditional agriculture systems, water, soil, food loss and waste, and integrated landscape management.
Among the recommended actions and initiatives were; scale up of public and private climate finance flows to agriculture, and use them in a catalytic manner. Climate finance flows continue to favour mitigation over adaptation, and focus overwhelmingly on energy systems and infrastructure.
Another recommendation was to ncentivize public-private partnerships. Strong dialogue and collaboration between the public and private sectors is key to ensure alignment between public policy and private sector investment decisions in agriculture and throughout the entire food system.
There is also need for a strengthened multi-sector and multi-stakeholder dialogue towards more integrated approaches. Integrated approaches to landscape management will require enhanced coordination of policy and climate action across multiple public and private entities.
It is also important to invest in knowledge and information. Additional analyses are needed to better identify the institutional barriers and market failures that are inhibiting broader adoption of climate-resilient and low-emissions agricultural practices in individual countries, regions and communities.
Lastly, it was noted that gricultural producers require additional capacities to understand the climate risks and vulnerabilities they face from day to day, season to season.
BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - Regional and local leaders attending COP23 in Bonn have made it very clear that global warming is worsening, and that its consequences are upon humanity.
At a moment of escalating environmental crisis on land, air and sea, leaders including those from Africa signed the Bonn-Fiji Commitment on Sunday November 12,2017 at COP23 in Bonn, to take further, faster action to deliver the Paris Agreement at all levels of government.
“The truth is undeniable,” said Jennifer Morgan, Greenpeace international director. “The escalating environmental crisis again expose the dire threat to people on the frontlines of climate change.”
But the African civil society groups are wary of the multiplicity of commitments, calling on the Global community to instead take a common stand against Trump and his allies.
" We are tired of signing commitment after commitment. It is time to classify the global community into two: those for the people and planet, and those for Trump and Profit," says the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance.
"Unless we see accelerated action on the implementation of the Paris Agreement pursuant to Marrakech Action Plan by industrialised countries, signing commitments for faster climate action without kicking Trump and his allies from climate negotiations turns logic on its head," PACJA's Mithika Mwenda said.
Humans themselves, through a combination of deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels for energy and transportation, are almost entirely at fault exposing human habitat to climate threats, thus the need for a critical self examination, the leaders emphasized.
With more than half the global population living in cities and expected to approach two thirds by 2050, the Bonn-Fiji Commitment of Local and Regional Leaders to deliver the Paris Agreement pushes forward efforts to advance sustainable urban development as an integral part of urgent global climate action and the inter-linked goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“This is particularly focused around Sustainable Development Goal 11 – to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable,” the commitment stated.
It notes that urgent action is needed as extreme weather events and disasters are undercutting food security for millions around the world, especially among poor developing nations in Africa and South America, adding that 23.5 million people were displaced in 2016 by weather-related disaster, creating a flood of climate refugees throughout Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
Worse as this is, the commitment believes it is "merely a harbinger of things to come,”
The leaders commit to build resilient, low carbon communities to permit urban areas play an influential role in the course of global development.
“City and regional governments are pushing ahead, with an acute sense of their role in building a resilient, low carbon society,” said Ashok Sridharan, Lord Mayor of Bonn, Germany;
“Urban areas will play an influential role in the course of global development. By making urban sustainability a core part of national climate action, countries will be in a better position to meet and exceed their national climate goals,” he noted.
The commitment encompasses 19 initiatives, including creation of the African Sub-national Climate Fund to bridge the gap between infrastructure demands and the low number of bankable projects reaching investors, by providing ready-to-invest projects and funds to support the implementation of at least 100 infrastructure projects by 2020.
It also include the creation of Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy - the largest coalition of over 7,400 cities from six continents and 121 countries to reduce emissions and make societies and economies resilient to climate change.
Cities are responsible for as much as 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels used for energy and transport, and 13 percent of the global urban population lives in vulnerable low-elevation coastal areas, the commitment initiative stated.
The Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA), a regional body of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, is opening the door for more Sub-Saharan cities to join efforts to expand access to sustainable and efficient energy services.
The Urban Climate Change research network says an estimated 80 percent of the costs of adapting to climate change are needed in urban areas. But much of the estimated $80 to 100 billion financing needed per year remains inaccessible to city governments and there is also a lack of bankable local projects reaching investors.
It is against this backdrop that the leaders have called on Planners for Climate Action, from UN-Habitat, to help ensure urban and regional planners play a strong role in advancing global climate and sustainability goals. To this end, this initiative will improve urban and regional planning practice and planning education.
BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - A special initiative to protect people living in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) from the heath impacts of climate change was today launched at the ongoing Bonn climate talks.
The initiative is an effort by World Health Organization, in collaboration with the UN Climate Change secretariat and in partnership with the Fijian Presidency of the twenty-third Conference of the Parties (COP23).
By 2030, the initiate wants all Small Island Developing States to have climate-resilient health systems.
It also envisions drastic global reduction of carbon emissions both to protect the most vulnerable from climate risks and deliver large health benefits in carbon-emitting countries.
With four main goals, the initiative seeks to amplify the voices of health leaders in Small Island Developing States, so they have more impact at home and internationally; and to gather the evidence to support the business case for investment in climate change and health.
It further seeks to promote policies that improve preparedness and prevention, including "climate proof" health systems and the multiplication of international financial support levels to climate and health in small island developing states.
"People living in Small Island Developing States are on the frontline of extreme weather events, rising sea levels and increased risk of infectious disease," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. "We owe it to these people to do everything we can to help them prepare for the future that is already washing up on their shores."
"We in Fiji know all too well that climate change poses a serious threat to the health of our people. I'm delighted that we are launching this initiative - in partnership with the WHO and UNFCCC - to better equip small island states like ours with the knowledge, resources and technology to increase the resilience of their health systems, as part of larger efforts to adapt to climate change," said Fijian Prime Minister and COP23 President Frank Bainimarama.
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change believes “climate change will increasingly impact the health and well-being of people everywhere unless nations fully implement the Paris Agreement”.
“Small islands are in the frontline from extreme weather events that can contaminate drinking water to health-hazardous heatwaves and the spread of infectious diseases. This initiative can strengthen the response of small islands to the rising risks as the world works to ensure that together we keep a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees C and better, no higher than 1.5 degrees, “ she said.
Secretary General of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Mithika Mwenda described the initiative as symbolic coming at a time island states have suffered serious health challenges enormously due to climate-related hurricanes and tornadoes.
"As this initiative comes under the Fijian Presidency of the COP, we believe Fiji knows where the shoe pinches most, and we urge them to lead the COP23 into concrete outcomes that will shine light on the increasingly gloomy picture we are witnessing on the path towards the 2018 global stock-take," Mithika added.
SIDS and climate change
Small Island Developing States have long been recognized as especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Their situation is highlighted in the UNFCCC, by Ministers of Health at the 2008 World Health Assembly, and in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
They have also pioneered innovative approaches to improve the resilience of their health systems to climate change. As well as emitting a small proportion of the greenhouse gases that are driving climate change, many are further reducing their already low carbon emissions.
"Small Island Developing States are ready to take leadership towards green, resilient and health-promoting national development – but the support of the international community is essential,” said Dr Joy St John, recently appointed Assistant Director-General for Climate and Other Determinants of Health at WHO.
"Less than 1.5% of international finance for climate change adaptation is allocated to projects which ensure that the health of all people is preserved, and only a fraction of this supports small island developing states. The recent severe weather events in the Caribbean demonstrate that targeted interventions are important. We need to do much more and we need to act very quickly."
Country ownership is a central principle of this initiative. Ministers of health from some of the most affected countries have already started to provide input through consultation with WHO's Director-General and at WHO Regional Committee meetings, and this process will continue.
Since 2015, WHO has been working with the UNFCCC secretariat to develop detailed country profiles to assess risks, and provide tailored advice on how these countries can adapt to, and mitigate, the health effects of climate change. More than 45 country profiles have already been completed and, as part of this initiative, WHO commits to publishing a country profile for all small island developing states by the end of 2018.
Many national health actors, development and United Nations agencies are already making important contributions to protect health in small island developing states. WHO’s initiative aims to bring together existing and new efforts and scale them up so they achieve maximum impact.
“The vision is that, by 2030, all health systems in small island developing states will be able to withstand climate variability and change,” adds Dr St John. “And, of course, that countries around the world will have substantially reduced carbon emissions.”
Bonn, Germany - A top priority for the Fiji Presidency at COP23 is preparing the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement. These guidelines help put the Paris Agreement into practice and establish how each government will implement its requirements. That’s why the implementation guidelines are sometimes referred to as the Paris rulebook.
While the guidelines will be finalized next year, progress negotiating their terms is essential to this climate summit’s success.
The role of the implementation guidelines is complex. the guidelines must enable Parties to communicate, report, review and strengthen climate action to the fullest of their capabilities, and do so in a way that is transparent and accountable to the international community. Clear guidelines will enable a more predictable transformation to a low-carbon and climate-resilient world, while enhancing international cooperation and support for countries and communities in need.
What Are the Main Components in the Paris Agreement Implementation Guidelines?
At COP22 in Morocco, negotiators confirmed 2018 as the deadline to finalize the guidelines for several processes and requirements, including:
Reporting and review of countries’ individual actions and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to adapt to climate change, and of support received or provided. These two processes of the transparency framework will help track progress every two years with respect to the implementation and achievement of countries’ climate plans and associated targets, and contribute to understanding any gaps and relevant needs that countries may have.
Accounting rules that provide a basis for understanding the total global impact of countries’ targets/goals, and to compare them. This facilitates the use of international market mechanisms, supported by tracking systems and an understanding of the role that land use changes and forestry play in countries’ efforts.
Communication of countries’ climate plans (nationally determined contributions, or NDCs), to share updates on their efforts and possibly signal strengthened actions every five years.
The mechanism countries will use to regularly take stock of progress (called the global stocktake) over five years, and identify ways countries can go further and faster.
Establishing a committee to facilitate implementation and promotion of compliance.
What Are the Main Sticking Points?
Parties will need to find common ground between a range of interests and perspectives on key issues. Some technical provisions are particularly sensitive and will require a careful balancing act to reach agreement. These include:
Providing flexibility for Parties that need it without reverting to a bifurcated approach (that is, different sets of guidelines for developed and developing countries). Striking this balance is especially necessary for the communication, reporting and review of countries’ actions and support.
Clarifying the functions of the various processes established in Paris and identifying the most appropriate platforms to advance specific issues (for example, when the limits to adaptation in impacted countries are breached and communities face permanent loss and damage). It will be important to find a compromise on the scope of these process (for example, the global stocktake), without renegotiating the Paris Agreement.
Designing the transparency and accountability regime under the Paris Agreement in a coherent, effective and mutually reinforcing manner. This was explored in WRI’s research paper Mapping the Linkages between the Transparency Framework and other Provisions of the Paris Agreement.
Other issues also pose important challenges, such as designing rules that ensure all countries measure their emissions, financial support and other activities consistently. And some issues are less mature than others, such as measuring adaptation progress or tracking climate finance. Similarly, negotiators are still figuring out how they can best cooperate through new market or non-market mechanisms that would contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting sustainable development. Finally, the lack of capacity for many developing countries to collect, manage and use data exacerbates these difficulties also presents a challenge.
What to Expect at COP23
COP23 is about coming together to tackle this complex set of issues, at both the technical and political levels, and to pave the way for finalizing and adopting the Paris Agreement implementation guidelines at the 2018 climate negotiations in Poland. To help make that happen, we will need innovative, creative thinking about how to sequence and cluster negotiations on the many inter-related elements of the Agreement and the implementation guidelines.
To facilitate the negotiations next year, negotiators must leave COP23 with a document that conveys key decision points on the guidelines, along with options for how to resolve the most sensitive remaining issues. And this document should be accompanied with a plan for how these issues will be taken forward over the course of 2018 (such as workshops, additional negotiation sessions and requests for countries’ views on outstanding issues).
To undertake this process this effectively, negotiators should recall that they are not starting from scratch. They will be building on 20 years of experience on these issues as they seek to craft effective rules for the Paris Agreement that build trust, incentivize action and ultimately guide the transformation to a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.
Yamide Dagnet is the Project Director - UNFCCC, Climate Program - World Resources Institute
BONN, Germany (PAMACC News) - African civil society groups and climate activists have called for extensive clarifications on how African countries and especially indigenous grassroots communities can access funding to adapt to climate change and pursue green growth.
“African governments and especially vulnerable indigenous communities need access to climate funds. These funds are needed for climate adaptation, mitigation and technology transfer, capacity building and forest management,” says Julius Karanja, Programme assistant,Pan African Climate Justice Alliance,PACJA at a side event on GCF/CSO readiness in Bonn,November 8th , 2017.
“But accessing these funds by African countries and indigenous communities is still an uphill tasks and we think COP23 is the place for the right decisions and engagements to be taken,’’ Julius said.
Other African representatives said climate impacts are multiplying in many developing nations underlining the need to protect vulnerable states from rising risks of extreme weather.
“We listen and watch with horror weather extremes in many African and Asian countries and we know that the impacts of climate change are ravaging mostly the vulnerable grassroots communities with attendant loss of lives, property and means of livelihood. Accessing finances for adaptation in these countries have become very urgent, thus the need for flexibility, and clarity on the Green Climate Fund process” said Jean Paul Brice Affana, Policy Advisor, Climate Finance and Development, German Watch.
African Civil society say for this to happen, a multi-stakeholder mobilization and participation in the Green Climate Fund process is imperative.
According to Dr. Curtis Deobbler, representative, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, participation of the different stakeholders in the Green Climate Fund process will not only ensure transparency but will provide the opportunity for full engagement of grassroots communities via civil society organizations.
“Though the Green Climate Change Fund promises to be the most ambitious in the fight against climate change, there is need to ensure total transparency and equity in access to the funds. This can best be ensured with the participation of grassroots communities, represented by civil society, at all levels of the process,” Curtis said.
He said there is need to recognize the role of civil society in accountability at national level where they consult with implementing entities and are versed with local best practices.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) accordingly is intended to be the major conduit for funding to flow from wealthy economies built on fossil fuels to those that will suffer most from climate change they did not cause. Experts say it aims at being the most ambitious step in the fight against climate change.
“It is a very important step forward in the global effort to fight climate change,” Dr. Curtis Deobbler said.
Many developing countries have indicated that their commitments to cut emissions are conditional on support from wealthy nations but the funds are coming at a very slow pace, the African civil society has said. The developed world has agreed that poor countries should receive $100bn a year by 2020, but have so far pledged just $10.2bn to the GCF, the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, PACJA noted.
The COP23 in Bonn, CSOs say, is expected to be more about UN house-keeping than grandstanding with many of its conclusions being technical and businesslike, designed to make the process of cutting greenhouse gas emissions work better, rather than announcing new goals or targets.
They called on the UNFCCC to recognize the role of the civil society in accountability and the need to get them participate at all levels of the process, as the voice of the grassroots communities.
At a first press conference held at the ongoing 23rd Session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn, Germany, African climate justice activists expressed disagreement with Parties’ handling the US with kid gloves. The US intention, led by the Climate Denier-in-Chief President Donald Trump is, according to the Activists, "poisonous to negotiations". The Trump agenda is to dismantle the Paris Agreement, they alleged.
"Time has come when the global community should be brave enough and call a space a spade, and not a big spoon. It is the time to put Trump and his government where they belong – not to the community of nations," they demanded in a strongly worded statment whose excerpts are in a link below.