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From Paris to Katowice: Urgent action clamoured for climate ambition

If Paris was historic in carving a global climate deal, Katowice will define the political urgency for climate action.


A session during the Bonn conference

Negotiations at the just ended United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, focused on the Paris Agreement Work Programme, under which countries are designing the guidelines that will move the climate pact from concepts to actions.

The Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group, at the concluding session, expressed concern at the lack of urgency in moving the negotiations forward.

“It is time to look at the bigger picture, see the severe impacts that climate change is having across the world, and rise to the challenge,” said Group Chair, Gebru Jember Endalew.

He expects steady progress be made throughout 2018 on all issues so that poor and vulnerable countries can engage effectively.

“A last-minute rush at COP24 risks leaving developing countries behind,” he said.


The Paris Rulebook

The Rulebook spells guidelines on how to put the Paris Agreement into practice.

There is a call for a fair, robust and transparent Rulebook that inspires confidence among countries to step up and commit to enhanced national climate targets by 2020.

They are essential for determining whether total world emissions are declining fast enough to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. These include boosting adaptation and limiting the global temperature increase to well below 2°C, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

“I am satisfied that some progress was made here in Bonn. But many voices are underlining the urgency of advancing more rapidly on finalizing the operational guidelines. The package being negotiated is highly technical and complex. We need to put it in place so that the world can monitor progress on climate action,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change.


Progress on Agriculture

Recognising the urgency of addressing interests in the agriculture sector, the Bonn conference made a significant advance on the “Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture” by adopting a road-map for the next two-and-a-half years.

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Farmers are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts such as prolonged droughts and shifting rainfall patterns, and agriculture is an important source of emissions.

This road-map responds to the world’s farming community of more than 1 billion people and to the 800 million people who live in food-insecure circumstances, mainly in developing countries. It addresses a range of issues including the socio-economic and food-security dimensions of climate change, assessments of adaptation in agriculture, co-benefits and resilience, and livestock management.


But not with Finance

Without advances in the talks over the commitment of future financial support from rich countries to developing nations, who are already facing devastating climate impacts, it became difficult for other areas of the negotiations to progress.

LDC Group Chair, Gebru Jember Endalew, stated: “Finance is key to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. In the face of climate change, poor and vulnerable countries are forced to address loss and damage and adapt to a changing climate, all while striving to lift their people out of poverty without repeating the mistakes of an economy built on fossil fuels. This is not possible without predictable and sustainable support.”

Civil society also expressed some dissatisfaction with the finance dialogue.

“The radio silence on money has sown fears among poor countries that their wealthier counterparts are not serious about honouring their promises. This funding is not just a bargaining chip, it is essential for delivering the national plans that make up the Paris Agreement,” said Mohamed Adow, International Climate Lead, Christian Aid.

“For the Paris Agreement to be a success, we need the Katowice COP to be a success. And for the Katowice COP to be a success we need assurances that sources of funding will be coming.”


The Talanoa Dialogue

The Fijian Presidency of COP23 launched the Talanoa Dialogue to spur an outcome for enhanced ambition at the end of this year at COP24.

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The first global conversation about efforts to combat climate change was witnessed on Sunday, May 6, at the 2018 Bonn Climate Talks.

The dialogue wrote history when countries and non-Party stakeholders including cities, businesses, investors and regions engaged in interactive story-telling for the first time.

The dialogue witnessed some 250 participants sharing more than 700 stories of climate struggle and inspiration, providing fresh ideas and renewed determination to raise ambition.

Seven groups, known as “Talanoas”, took part in the informal Talanoa tradition of sharing stories to find solutions for the common good. Participants discussed three central questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?

The Dialogue has the goal of taking stock of collective efforts towards progress on the Paris Agreement’s long-term mitigation goal. It will also inform the preparation of parties’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the second round of which are expected in 2020.

“Now is the time for action. Now is the time to commit to making the decisions the world must make. We must complete the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement on time. And we must ensure that the Talanoa Dialogue leads to more ambition in our climate action plans,” said Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji and President of COP23.

Talanoa inspires discussion between countries not as negotiating blocs but as one of people to people. But it is important that this is translated into a clear political process.

The Polish Presidency must take up the baton from the Fiji Presidency and work with all countries towards a political outcome for stronger national targets by 2020.


Political Action in Katowice

All input received to date and up to 29 October 2018 will feed into the Talanoa Dialogue’s second but more political phase at COP24.

To be meaningful, the Talanoa Dialogue “must deliver concrete outcomes that drive an increase in ambition and support to put us on track to achieving the 1.5 degree temperature goal set in Paris, guided by equity and science,” said Mr. Endalew.

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Talks resume in Bangkok from September 3-8 where negotiators will pick up “informal notes” forwarded by this session. They will attempt to turn these notes and various inputs from countries into the basis for a negotiating text ahead of COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

“The science is clear: we need to get into higher gear to reach Paris goals and we need to have the courage to go beyond traditional politics. Meeting in the middle is no option this time,” said Marcel Beukeboom, Climate Envoy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

A stronger political leadership remains critical to achieve the major milestones envisaged for COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

The UN Climate Change talks are an integral part of a broader, worldwide debate on climate change.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

“The time for stories has long since passed,” said Meena Raman of Third World Network. “We live in a world with over 1℃ warming and the devastation is already severe. We cannot allow for that warming to go beyond 1.5℃ and we need a political process to prevent that.”

Courtesy: PAMACC News Agency


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