As the “Pacific COP” – as the 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is popularly referred to – was rounded up on Friday, November 17, 2017, forward-looking delegates stress that countries must come to COP24 in 2018 in Poland with a clear signal that they will step up and enhance their climate targets by 2020
As countries wrapped up discussions at the COP23 UN climate change conference in Bonn, Germany, one fact remains undisputed: climate change is happening, and climate action cannot wait. In a year marked by devastating losses from climate impacts, and with 2017 seeing a rise in global emissions, this Pacific COP brought home the message that climate change continues to threaten the survival of far too many people.
The COP highlighted that there is appetite for faster and stronger climate action in the near term. A decision to formally anchor pre-2020 discussions in the next climate talks puts immediate pressure on developed countries to do more on increasing ambition in the run up to 2020 and thereafter.
The Talanoa dialogue switches on the ambition ratchet mechanism of the Paris Agreement and sets into motion the plan that governments promised to abide by two years ago to keep warming below 1.5°C.
With renewed political will, countries must now collectively assess progress on their national climate plans and come to COP24 in Poland to prepare to step up ambition by 2020 in order to transition to a renewable energy future.
The extraordinary swell of support for climate action by cities, businesses, local leaders and indigenous groups further turns the heat on national governments to do more, and to do it much faster.
These climate talks, presided by a country that is no stranger to dangerous impacts, focused the world’s attention on issues close to those at the forefront of climate change.
However, the disappointing outcomes on loss and damage and finance, make it clear there is a brutal disconnect between the support developed countries are willing to commit to and the reality of climate impacts developing countries face.
While the COP reignited important discussions, developed countries failed to take the opportunity to make good on a strong support package and align their promises with clear actions.
The launch of the Gender Action Plan and the indigenous people’s platform are an integral part of the legacy of the Fiji Presidency.
Looking ahead, the Polish Presidency must take forward the progress made on the implementation guidelines and sustain the strengthened international cooperation on climate action. This can happen if countries such as Canada, Norway, France, UK, Germany and New Zealand step in to offer leadership domestically and internationally.
Krishneil Narayan, Coordinator, Pacific Islands Climate Action Network (PICAN), Fiji, said: “The Pacific islands region is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. Fiji’s Presidency of COP23 provided an opportunity to emphasise the need for higher ambition in implementing the Paris Agreement to reach the 1.5oC goal. The Bula spirit has been infused and the course set for the Talanoa Dialogue in the coming year. The work done here to operationalise the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform and adopting the Gender Action Plan is much welcomed. However, a lot more was expected on the outcome of Loss and Damage outcome from this “Pacific COP”. We hope that countries would make full use of the expert dialogue in 2018 to further advance the work on Loss and Damage.”
Wolfgang Jamann, Secretary General and CEO of CARE International, said:
“At COP23, political agreements did not sufficiently address the harsh climate reality that millions of poor and vulnerable people already face. CARE welcomes the negotiation progress in areas such as gender and agriculture as well as the attention to climate impacts. However, as global emissions continue to increase, we need countries to significantly step up their efforts in 2018 to shift away from this dangerous trajectory and to keep the within the 1.5oC limit.”
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, head of WWF’s global climate and energy programme, and COP20 President, said: “In a year marked by extreme weather disasters and potentially the first increase in carbon emissions in four years, the paradox between what we are doing and need to be delivering is clear: countries must act with greater climate ambition, and soon, to put us on a path to a 1.5°C future.
“It is time to show bolder vision, innovation and urgent action - in global efforts and domestically - building on the clear momentum we are seeing in our societies and economies already. The Talanoa dialogue is the opportunity for that and it should deliver concrete outcomes. COP23 has made significant progress on pre-2020 action and support as well as the role of gender, local communities and indigenous peoples but the months leading up to COP24 will be critical to achieve the ambition we need to secure a just transition and sustainable future beyond 2020.”
Josianne Gauthier, CIDSE Secretary General: “Climate change is a matter of urgency and decided action. As this year’s climate conference comes to an end CIDSE welcomes the progress made but strongly urges governments to continue moving towards collective action throughout 2018 and beyond, taking concrete steps towards a just transition where no one is left behind. As the Pope reminds us, this should be accompanied by a personal spiritual conversion, questioning our priorities and the impact they have on our common home.”
Nick Mabey, CEO and Co-founding Director E3G: “COP23 achieved what it had to but not what it needed to. Countries and their leaders must work together to raise ambition and make the goals of the Paris Agreement a reality. Through the Talanoa Dialogue they must inspire everyone to do more: to identify bold new practical ways to reduce pollution and protect people for a changing climate.
Tracy Carty, head of Oxfam’s delegation at COP 23: “This year hurricanes ravaged the Caribbean, floods destroyed thousands of homes and schools in South Asia, and drought brought devastation to millions in East Africa. We’re no longer talking about the future; the world’s poorest countries and communities are already fighting for their lives against disasters intensified by climate change. Yet for the most part, rich countries showed up to Bonn empty-handed, and blocked progress on finance for ‘loss and damage’ for those facing the worst impacts of climate change.
“The brutal disconnect between what developed countries are willing to provide and the reality of climate impacts developing countries face must be urgently addressed. President Macron’s international climate summit next month in Paris will offer another opportunity for countries to unveil new financial pledges.”
Jens Mattias Clausen, head of Greenpeace’s political delegation at COP23:
“Leaders must now go home and do the right thing, prove that they have listened to the voices of the Pacific, with all their hurt and hope, and understand the urgency of our time. Talk is not good enough and we still lack the action we need.
“We call on France, Germany, China and others to step up and display the leadership they claim to stake. Clinging to coal or nuclear power and parading as climate champions while failing to accelerate the clean energy transition is nothing but bad faith.
“We welcome the focus on enhanced ambition and the inclusion of pre-2020 climate action in the design of next year’s stocktake, the Talanoa Dialogue. This will form part of Fiji’s legacy and it is imperative that the dialogue will not just be a discussion but actually lead to countries ramping up their climate targets.
“Bonn still leaves a daunting task of concluding the Paris rulebook next year. Countries need to rediscover the political courage they had in Paris to complete the rulebook on time.”
Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists: “At this year’s climate talks, the Fijian presidency helped us build the vessels needed to carry us towards a clean energy future. Now it’s up to ministers and heads of state to fill these vessels with increased ambition on climate action, so as to close the substantial gap between the commitments countries have put forward to reduce their emissions and the much higher level of ambition needed to meet the temperature limitation goals established in the Paris Agreement.
“Progress was made on developing the Paris Agreement implementation rules, but the pace of negotiations must pick up significantly if the rulebook is to be finalised at the climate summit in Katowice, Poland next December. Little progress was made on the critical issue of ramping up financial and capacity-building support to help developing countries deploy clean energy and other climate solutions, and to adapt to the mounting impacts of climate change; this must be a much higher priority going forward. Fortunately, heads of state and ministers will have numerous opportunities over the next year to demonstrate real climate leadership.”
Sierra Club Executive Director, Michael Brune: “Even in the face of the climate-denying Trump administration, it is the unstoppable power of the people across the United States and the world that has continued to drive progress beyond coal – from retiring half of the U.S. coal fleet to pushing governments to form the new Powering Past Coal Alliance. Coal and other fossil fuels have no place in our future, and the world will continue to move toward a clean and just energy economy. The Sierra Club is committed to doing our part to drive that progress and ensure this transition to clean energy leaves no one behind until the goal is met.
“The Sierra Club applauds the government of Fiji for their leadership during these negotiations, and we challenge all governments to continue to step up to meet the ever-growing challenge of tackling the climate crisis. Following a year of devastating hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and storms, it’s never been more evident that the world needs to make serious and swift strides to curb carbon emissions for the sake of families, communities, and the planet. Now is the time to act.”
Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe: “The roadmap agreed today should help countries to bridge the gap between what they have committed to do and what is needed to keep temperature rise to safe levels. The EU needs to step up to the mark and make the most use of this opportunity by getting everything set for raising its 2030 climate target. The immediate next step is to put forward a higher climate target through the development of the new 2050 zero-carbon strategy. We need to go much further and faster, as the current snail’s pace of the talks does not match the urgency of climate action nor the speed of the renewable energy transition on the ground.”
Jamie Henn, 350.org Strategy and Communications Director: “There’s one word that needs to define the year ahead: ambition. Year 2018 will be all about accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy for all. Movements will do our part by stopping new fossil fuel projects, ending dirty finance, and getting as many towns, cities, and regions as possible to commit to 100% renewable energy for all.”
Christoph Bals, Policy Director, Germanwatch: “This COP sends a powerful message to the German coalition negotiations: We expect that Germany implements its climate targets for 2020 and 2030. Key issues are a socially acceptable phase out of coal, a transformation of the transportation and agricultural sector. This COP stressed that in the coming three years, rich countries need to do more to meet their existing commitments. Countries also need to step up next year and develop strategies to increase their ambition up to 2030.
“Those are clear tasks for the next German government. We are disappointed in the limited progress this conference has made to address the need for finance to help the most vulnerable people cope with the impacts of climate change that are already unavoidable. Rich countries need also step up to support the poorest and most vulnerable people. The next opportunity is the summit hosted by President Emmanuel Macron of France on 12 December.”
Sanjeev Kumar, Founder, Change Partnership: “Politics didn’t match adequacy at COP23. However, the Talanoa Dialogue is the means by which governments can put science-based commitments alongside their rhetoric on climate change to ensure mutual prosperity and save lives.”
Urszula Stefanowicz, expert at the Polish Climate Coalition: “The Polish Presidency, hosting the next UN climate summit in 2018, has to work in partnership with the current Fijian Presidency to make sure it ends in success and results in all countries committing to higher climate targets. As the host of the next year’s COP24 climate summit, the Polish government cannot allow short-termism and vested interest to guide its stance in the negotiations.”
Eamon O’Hara, Executive Director, ECOLISE: “There are many thousands of grassroots, community-led initiatives on climate action, in Europe and globally, but they feel disconnected from the formal processes and are operating in a kind of policy vacuum. Governments and policy makers need to engage with and support this bottom-up action in order to help inject pace into the entire process.”
Mauro Albrizio, European Affairs Director, Legambiente: “Now it’s time for Europe to walk the talk and start immediately implementing the roadmap. The 2030 climate and energy package is the first opportunity for Europe to show real leadership adopting more ambitious targets for renewables and energy efficiency in coherence with the Paris Agreement. We welcome the Italian proposal to host COP26. It’s a good opportunity to prove with concrete action that Italy and Europe are prepared to lead by example scaling up their ambition at home.”
Giulia Bondi, Climate Justice and Energy Officer, CIDSE: “What we need to solve the current climate crisis is a real transformational change, only achievable through a strong political commitment, including from the EU. Two years after the Paris Agreement, some good progress has been made here at COP23 in advancing in the work programme and with the set-up of the Talanoa Dialogue to design a pathway towards increased ambition. Nonetheless, important questions such as climate finance and loss and damage are still being sidelined and this is alarming as people who are vulnerable to climate change urgently need actions: their very future is at stake.”
Francisco Ferreira, President, ZERO: “The consequences of climate change are dramatic worldwide including Europe, where more vulnerable countries like Portugal are suffering from large forest fires and severe drought. More ambition is required from Europe towards a fast decarbonisation to fulfil the Paris Agreement goals.”
David Howell, SEO/BirdLife: “We knew it already, but COP23 has reconfirmed it: rapid transformational changes in the world economy, especially the economies of the wealthy and developing nations, must begin in the next few years, with commitments and action under way when COP24 begins. With these parties doing more, especially on pre2020 decarbonisation and finance, a clearer path will emerge which will create greater confidence amongst UNFCCC parties. Spain must do its part, and SEO/BirdLife calls on President Rajoy, his Ministers and autonomous governments to go beyond existing 2020 commitments to reduce emissions across the economy, and to achieve this quickly.”
Safa’ Al Jayoussi, Executive Director/ IndyACT: “Concrete steps were taken in this year’s COP23, now we need to move this into action toward pre-2020 ambition on the local and subregional level, especially from the Arab Region were the extreme weather events are hitting very hard with highest temperature has been recorded in multiple locations this year, our region is the most vulnerable yet have the most renewable energy opportunities that are barely tackled yet.”
Sébastien Duyck, Senior Attorney, Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL): “As another COP closes, Parties find themselves with considerable work ahead of them as they only have thirteen months to deliver on the Paris promises by creating a robust, rights-based Paris Rulebook. When in comes to ensuring that climate policies promotes human rights and justice, COP23 saw two significant successes with the adoption of the first ever UNFCCC Gender Action Plan and the operationalisation of the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform. While more can be done, these developments are welcome steps forward in integrating gender equality, recognition of and respect for perspective and knowledge of indigenous peoples into climate policies. In 2018, Parties must build on these advances to ensure that the Implementation Guidelines for the Paris Agreement promote people-centred actions.”
Nathaniel Keohane, Vice President for Global Climate, Environmental Defense Fund: “In the same week that we learned global carbon pollution is on the rise again after three flat years, the Trump administration came to Bonn to sell the world on fossil fuels. The good news is that the world wasn’t buying. The story of these climate talks was that however much Donald Trump wants to take us backward on climate change, the rest of the world – and the rest of the U.S. – is intent on moving forward.”
“Trump doesn’t speak for America on climate change – not for the majority of U.S. citizens who support action on climate change, nor for the 2,500 cities, counties, states, businesses and universities that have pledged their support for the Paris Agreement goals.”
Mohamed Adow, International Climate Lead, Christian Aid: “Everyone knows the Paris Agreement pledges alone are not enough to combat climate change – they only get us to a world of three degrees.
“The ratchet mechanism that made the Paris Agreement not just a static document but a living thing that strengthens itself over time, now has a name: The Talanoa Dialogue. That mechanism has now been switched on.
“The Talanoa Dialogue is what makes the Paris Agreement tick and it’s essential that it features prominently at next year’s important summit in Poland.”
Ben Niblett, Senior Campaigner, Tearfund and Renew Our World: “Fiji has led the way with bold leadership. Our hope was for developed countries – those most responsible for global greenhouse gas emissions – to follow this lead, step into Fiji’s canoe and paddle firmly towards the Paris Agreement commitments.
“We have a lot further to go to keep the Paris Agreement promises and protect the world God made and the people who depend on it, particularly on climate finance, clean energy for developing countries, and reducing emssions faster. But there were some encouraging steps at COP23 towards reducing emissions as a group of countries committed to phase out coal.”
Andrew Deutz, Director of International Government Relations, The Nature Conservancy: “‘The conference gets a grade of “meets expectations.’ The negotiators got down to orderly business working out the rules to implement, assess, and advance the Paris Agreement. The processes did not get overly distracted by the U.S. government’s announced withdrawal from the accord. In fact, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron celebrated the energy generated by the leadership of U.S. governors and mayors. Nevertheless, the absence of national U.S. leadership was evident within the negotiating process this week and for driving more ambitious climate action in the future.
“Two years after adopting the Paris Agreement, the global climate policy process is on cruise-control in the race toward a low-carbon, resilient future. We are still headed in the right direction, but since the U.S. took its foot off the accelerator, the pace of climate action has slowed down. It’s time for someone to jump in the driver’s seat and floor it.”
Moussa Elimane Sall, CAN Arab world board member: “The fight against climate change requires more responsibility and more commitment. Our weak action today is already condemning certain peoples, particularly the island. We are at the threshold of the irreversible and the developed countries add another layer of injustice, poverty and precariousness, ‘touching” the most fragile’ first.”
Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA): “The 23rd Conference of Parties under Fiji presidency has initiated an important driver of ambition through the Talanoa dialogue and we hope developed countries bring enhanced pre-2020 national climate plans to the 2018 conference in Poland. This is a welcome process and sets the correct course for the negotiations as per the equity principle. However, the efforts of developed countries to sabotage any progress on finance for loss and damage while trying to make business out of distress through insurance for millions affected was disappointing.”
Neil Thorns, Director of Advocacy at the aid agency CAFOD: “No one said implementing the Paris Agreement was going to be easy and whilst making some progress, countries have left themselves with plenty to do at next year’s talks in Poland. It was great to see the momentum build immediately behind the phasing out of coal after the joint UK/Canada announcement yesterday, particularly given US attempts to promote coal at these talks, and more of these positive initiatives will be necessary if we are to increase the ambition of the Paris Agreement.
“Ultimately, to build the trust needed now to deliver the Paris agreement, developing countries need to feel assured that richer nations that have caused the problem are going to stump up the cash they’ve promised to help poorer countries cope with climate change. There’s been a sense this year of developed countries hiding behind negotiations on other issues, such as agricultural policy, to avoid reaching the point where money has to be talked about, but developing countries want to see that richer nations are doing more than just expressing sympathy and empathy and instead are putting their money where their mouth is on climate action.”
Robert Hall, President, ECOLISE: “Europe must now demonstrate stronger climate leadership and enhanced ambitions to make the necessary contributions to meet the Paris targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Only through involvement of people through community-led actions is it possible to meet targets.”
Karim Elgendy, Carboun: Middle East Sustainable Cities, CAN Arab world board member: “COP 23 has witnessed the emergence of the cities and regions as major players in the climate debate. The shift from negotiations towards implementation that followed the Paris Agreement has shifted the attention towards efforts the ground towards implementation. The engagement of states, cities, and organisation from the United States during this COP, after the federal government’s announcement of its intention to withdraw has supported this transition. In the highly urbanised region of the Middle East and North Africa, cities need to lead the transition towards a low carbon development.”
Nithi Nesadurai, CAN Southeast Asia (CANSEA) Regional Coordinator: “COP23 set the momentum to ramp up ambition through the Tanaloa dialogue but the best results can be only achieved if deep and meaningful emission reductions take place before 2020, especially by the major industrialised countries. Echoing the ASEAN statement on COP23, we urged developed countries to commit finance to loss and damage. However, as a region that’s highly vulnerable to climate impacts, we are disappointed to not see this materialise. The way forward is to ensure climate action at home by pushing for greater nationally determined (NDCs), transitioning away from coal to renewable energy and committing to a low-carbon development pathway within the context of just transition.”
Tomás Insua, Executive Director, Global Catholic Climate Movement: “Solutions to the climate crisis are well within our grasp. Pope Francis has sounded an urgent call to protect our most vulnerable sisters and brothers from the worst ravages of climate change. Here in Bonn, we’ve demonstrated that we can do that. Stepping up to 1.5 degrees means nothing less than truly loving and caring for ‘the least of these.”
Ramiro Fernandez, Climate Change Director, Fundación Avina: “COP23 have shown how non-state actors are already making progress on implementation of their commitments, and Latin American countries, like Argentina or Peru, have also shown serious progress on building the institutional frameworks needed for implementation of their NDC’s. In the era of implementation cities, regions and other non-state actors will play a critical role on the implementation of the Paris Agreement.”