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Delegates ‘cautiously optimistic’ over Paris Agreement as Bonn talks end

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam
22 May 2017   |   4:31 am
As delegates firmed up last week the “rule book” for operationalising the Paris agreement, the threat of American exodus from the global pact casts doubt on the success of the agreement to stem global warming.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed (left) with Salaheddine Mezouar, COP 22 / CMP 12 President, and Nazhat Shameem Khan, Fiji, incoming COP 23 / CMP 13 Presidency during the climate change conference in Bonn, Germany

As delegates firmed up last week the “rule book” for operationalising the Paris agreement, the threat of American exodus from the global pact casts doubt on the success of the agreement to stem global warming.

The Paris agreement set out the overarching goals and framework for international climate action, but left many details to be filled in later. These questions, collectively known as the Paris “rulebook”, include who should do what, by when, how and with what financial support.

In the two-weeks talks in Bonn, Germany that ended Friday, negotiators worked to iron out range of topics including the detailed “rulebook” and details of a stock-taking exercise to be finalised at COP24 in 2018, which will measure progress toward the Paris goals, as well as the issue of adaptation finance.

Under each topic, parties are invited to submit their views during September 2017. These views will be collected together in another series of papers, with the aim of setting out options for draft text on the rulebook, as well as areas of agreement and disagreement.

Specifically, governments made progress towards the Paris Agreement’s implementation as it relates to guidelines across a wide range of issues including transparency, adaptation, emission reductions, provision of finance, capacity-building and technology. The aim is to complete the guidelines by COP24 in Poland in 2018.

Nations agreed to expand the opportunities for the exchange of ideas between governments and non-party stakeholders in the climate process including those representing vulnerable groups such as indigenous peoples and women.

The session saw a greater focus on the needs of indigenous peoples through progress on the operationalisation of the local communities and Indigenous Peoples’ Platform, which had been established at COP21 in Paris.

“I am very encouraged by this progress,” said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. “These guidelines are essential for making the Paris Agreement fully operational and to ensure its central role in global climate action over the years and decades to come. The progress achieved here make it clear that nations are keen to make the agreement ready and fit for purpose by 2018,” she added.

To further speed up this work, nations will hold several round-table meetings ahead of COP23 in Bonn. During the May session 17 developed and 10 developing countries presented on their mitigation actions to date as part of greater transparency-building among Parties; countries also agreed on a recommendation of close to 57 million Euros for the 2018-2019 budget of the UN climate change secretariat as a submission to COP23.

Countries also forged ahead with the inaugural meeting of a new body under the Paris Agreement. The launch of the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB) will play a decisive role in boosting the capacity of developing countries to undertake climate actions through their NDCs.

The parties provided initial input to scale up their gender-responsive climate policy through a gender action plan that will be fully developed at COP23.

“I am glad that these issues were on the agenda here because it is important—the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement are so profound that all sectors of society in all nations need to be on-board and fully involved to support governments as they take forward their climate action plans into the future,” said Ms. Espinosa.

Global civil society movement, Climate Action Network (CAN) lauded the progress made in Bonn with negotiators advancing work on the implementation of the Paris Agreement. “Countries stayed focused on the task at hand: building on the details of the Paris ‘rulebook’, for its speedy implementation.”

“The most vulnerable countries have reminded us that the goals of the Paris Agreement are non-negotiable. At this juncture, we need an unwavering signal from all countries that climate action will not be relegated to a mere footnote on the global agenda.

“There can be no room for confusion or backsliding on the direction and speed of travel that governments promised to embark on in Paris. At the upcoming G7 and the G20 summits, civil society call for enhanced and sustained political commitment to act on climate change to ensure a successful outcome in COP23, under the Fiji Presidency, and beyond,” they said.

“Uncertainty over Trump’s decision on the Paris agreement did not deter delegates here in Bonn, but instead galvanised their resolve to move ahead with climate action. In the next days and weeks we expect the shared leadership among responsive countries to grow even stronger. The new coalition of willing that is taking shape should help secure strong outcomes for climate at the G7 and G20 summits,” Li Shuo, Climate Policy Advisor Greenpeace said.

For Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF’s global Climate & Energy Practice, said: “It was encouraging to see that discussions in Bonn were not around whether or not the Paris Agreement was needed but rather about the details of its implementation.

“This sends a strong signal that the climate negotiations are not being paralysed by politics.

Rather, negotiators engaged in the technical discussions that are required to make substantial progress by COP23 on the rules that will guide the implementation of the agreement.”

Meanwhile, the in-coming president of COP23 and Fiji Prime Minister Mr. Frank Bainimarama presenting his political vision for the November Summit. These include forging “a grand coalition to accelerate climate action before 2020 and beyond between civil society, the scientific community, the private sector and all levels of government, including cities and regions. We are all vulnerable and we all need to act,” he delegates from over 140 governments attending the two-week session.

Other priorities are: building greater resilience for all vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events and rising sea levels; boosting access to climate adaptation finance, renewable energy, clean water and affordable climate risk and disaster insurance and to promote sustainable agriculture.

He also plans harnessing innovation, enterprise and investment to fast track the development and deployment of climate solutions that will build future economies with net zero greenhouse gas emissions, in an effort to limit the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Priorities include a stronger link between the health of the world’s oceans and seas and the impacts of, and solutions to, climate change as part of a holistic approach to the protection of our planet.

“I thank the in-coming presidency for their inclusive and transparent approach in providing clarity on the priorities for the November conference,” said Ms. Espinosa. “This greatly assists countries in the preparations for the conference,” she added.