lynahinkel lynahinkel, December 13, 2017


Summary of COP23, Bonn, November 6-23.
by Margaret Perkins

The Conference of Parties, COP23, the annual meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, held in Bonn last month, was opened by the Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji, the host nation. He invoked the “talanoa spirit” – a term used in his country to describe inclusive and transparent dialogue and this platform was adopted formally by member states for future negotiations. The Talanoa spirit was in pointed contrast to the actions and arrogance of the US which has set in motion steps to withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate agreement and whose official presence at COP23 was a dismal embarrassment.

The agenda for COP23 was to strengthen the fine points of the Paris agreement in several areas including the monitoring of each country’s pledges to reduce GHG emissions, referred to as nationally determined contributions, NDC. It was agreed that additional assessments on progress to reach emission pledges from developed countries will be reported on in 2018 and 2019, prior to the Agreement coming into effect in 2020. It was noted that some developed countries are not keeping pace with their pledges; 2017 will see the first increase in global emissions in 4 years after 3 years of no increase (Global Carbon Project). Additional areas that are still under debate are the financing mechanisms for vulnerable and developing countries and further policies on management of agriculture and oceans. President Obama in one of his final acts as President pledged $500 million to the Green Climate Fund. So far this appears to have withstood the destructive climate reversals of the new administration.

Several new and high profile climate campaigns received a lot of attention at COP23, most prominently the well funded mobilization to phase out coal in high use countries, including Germany, Poland, Japan and Australia.  The ‘phase out’ campaign in the US and internationally (Beyond Coal)  was given a huge boost  by the Bloomberg Foundation, which  pledged $60 million to that end  in the US, and a further  $50million for other coal intense countries. In support of the coal phase out movement, Canada joined with the U.K. to announce a coalition of six countries, and 20 sub-national entities, which will press for countries to achieve this through diplomacy.

Despite the miserable official participation by the US, a large contingent of American non-profit organizations, large businesses and local and state government officials participated in many of COP23 meetings under the banner “We Are Still In”. The coalition represents almost 50% of the US population and GDP. They had their own pavilion and their sessions were some of the most popular. There are negotiations in effect that this well organized coalition will be given a seat at the table in future climate negotiations as they apply to the states and cities they represent and until the US rejoins the Paris agreement.

Margaret Perkins is a 350NYC Steering Committee Member.

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