On November 17, the twenty-third Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23), held in Bonn (Germany), ended. Many have cataloged it as the Convention of the small steps. Thus, it has been possible to achieve small progress towards fulfilling the preparations for the implementation of the final objective, which is the Paris Agreement of 2015. Therefore, COP23 has been more a process than a concrete result.
This blog will discuss the key points at the Climate Summit
How to prevent the increase in temperature?
An important matter reached at the Summit has been to form the structure of the so-called Talanoa Dialogue 2018, a process aimed at monitoring the voluntary commitments of the countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for improve them so that global warming can be slowed to a maximum of between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius from the pre-industrial era.
The debate on the targets focused in particular on how to increase actions before 2020, when the Kyoto Protocol expires and the Paris Agreement is established. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, assumed the responsibility of advancing such ambition before the COP24, in Poland next year.
In addition, COP23 paved the way for the Adaptation Fund to operate within the framework of the Paris Agreement, an instrument that developing countries consider very valuable because it offers them rapid help to adapt to the effects of climate change.
Who pays for it?
Another of the key issues addressed at the Climate Summit was that of financing. On this aspect, there is a consensus that it is the rich industrialized countries that have formed their growth based on the burning of fossil fuels. Therefore, they are responsible not only for decarbonising their own economies, but also for helping the rest of the world to do so.
Prior to COP23, only 10 billion dollars had been allocated for the Green Climate Fund, which is used for “adaptation and mitigation”. Now, from 2020, the industrial nations intend to spend 100 billion dollars (85 billion euros) a year for action against climate change in the poorest countries.
What do we do with coal?
With regard to coal, the participating countries were mainly concerned with the opinion of Germany. It should be remembered that almost half of the German energy mix is represented by this fossil fuel.
Angela Merkel, recognized the need for a coal exit, despite the fact that Germany is in a delicate situation because there is still no Government; Talks about a coalition after the federal elections are getting longer than expected.
However, there was an outstanding commitment in relation to coal. This was the promise of 20 nations, led by the United Kingdom and Canada and whose members include countries such as France, Mexico or Italy, and which are part of the so-called “Powering Past Coal Alliance”, to phase out coal. Although most of these countries have low carbon consumption, this is the right signal: coal is the fuel of the past, renewable energy is the future. The member countries of the alliance, launched during the United Nations conference on climate change in Bonn (COP23), agreed to phase out traditional thermal power plants and establish a moratorium on any new traditional coal power plant without CO2 capture and storage . A number of companies and other non-governmental actors have also committed to focus on boosting their carbon-free operations. The founding countries of the alliance want to reach 50 partners before the UN conference on climate change in 2018, the COP24, in Katowice, Poland.
What about the United States?
The US, presented with a low level delegation after the announcement of President Donald Trump to abandon the Paris Agreement. However, it did not block negotiations. Its participation qualified as professional and constructive.
Although the official delegation of the United States was minimal and clung to the issue of coal, the unofficial delegation of the North American country revealed a resounding “we still here”.
Role of Spain in COP 23
During the Summit, the European Union, with the European Commissioner for Energy and Climate Action, Miguel Arias Cañete, at the head, has played a key role in achieving the results obtained. Spain has actively participated in the negotiations, and has also chaired a new meeting of the Ibero-American Network of Climate Change Offices and has participated in the high-level section of the “Initiative 4 per thousand: Soils for food security and climate” This initiative aims to ensure that agriculture plays its role in combating climate change.
In addition, the Spanish delegation has been headed by the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment (MAPAMA) and the Secretary of State for the Environment, who have held various meetings, including the President of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC), with the Presidency of COP 23 or with the executive secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Next steps and conclusions
Once the COP23 is finished, the countdown begins to meet the deadlines before COP24. In the following table you can see the main events that are on the agenda for the following days:
In Bonn, support for climate action from countries, regions, cities, civil society and the private sector has been clearly visible.
This Summit, has paved the way for a more ambitious action for the next Talanoa Dialogue of 2018, after having agreed between all nations to launch a process to increase the ambition levels of climate action before 2020.
In general terms, the objectives set before the Summit, which, in short, was to prepare for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, have been met. However, much remains to be done in the face of COP24.
According to some voices, these objectives do not reach. The World Meteorological Organization assures that, if the emissions of polluting gases continue at this rate, the temperature will rise by 2100 in three degrees centigrade.
Enrique Battistini | Energy Consultant