The Outcomes of the COP23 Talks
By admin November 22, 2017

From November 6th to 17th, diplomats from all over the world traveled to Bonn, Germany for the 23rd conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP23) hosted by Fiji. While several large scale decisions were resolved for the most vulnerable countries affected by climate change, many major decisions were pushed off for deciding until 2018 or thereafter. The largest of these decisions are highlighted below.

According to the Paris Agreement from 2015, over 200 countries submitted pledges to curbing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the wealthier countries promised to provide aid to help developing countries with clean energy infrastructure. The estimated value was to be at minimum $100 billion per year by 2020 in aid assistance. At the COP23 talks, negotiators indicated that progress was being made in developing the specificities of the agreement and the long-term forecast of the project. In addition, the measurement and monitoring rules to verify whether countries are lowering greenhouse gas emissions were put in place to track progress and the agreements plan. However, the 2018 climate conference in Katowice, Poland, is where nations are expected to create a more comprehensive rule book that will dictate a larger climate discussion as well as metrics for total impact to date in reducing emissions.

Likewise, under the Paris Agreement of 2015, nations aimed to limit the rise in global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius. However, discussion at the Bonn talks indicated that majority of nations were far from reaching this goal. The current state of pledges for reducing greenhouse gas emissions still put nations on track for an overall 3 degrees Celsius of global warming. This would impact, among other things, reshaping of coastlines, populated islands underwater, and more intense heat waves, floods and droughts.

While several nations have indicated a need for rapid change in current levels of energy emissions, few countries have set out plans to achieve such goals. Several nations had hoped China would create a major cap and trade program for its emissions; however, it was announced that a program of this intensity would be delayed. Likewise, several nations pressed Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel to propose a timeline to phase out Germany’s coal use. According to the New York Times, however, Merkel announced that she was holding “tough decisions” until a new government was formed.

Similarly, leaders of island nations and other environmentally vulnerable countries displayed disappointment over actions from wealthier countries opposing steps to compensate those nations threatened by climate change. While there was marginal success in the development of programs to promote insurance coverage for island nations, lack of money and capital was highlighted as a key barrier to creating sustainable change. In a remark given by the president of Palau, Tommy Remengesau, he said “This means life or death for us. [Helping islands and others hit by weather extremes] It’s a moral question, and it requires a moral answer.”

Overall, while key decisions were made and achieved at the COP23 talks, several nations indicated a further need for more substantive pledges and call to actions. Island nations, in particular, signaled the need for financial help in developing more clean energy technologies and protection of coastlines. Preliminary discussions for these issues in particular will further continue at the 2018 climate talk in Poland.

Related Readings

3 Takeaways from COP23 Negotiations

COP23 Climate Talks End in Bonn

COP23: Climate Negotiations Agree on Way Forward

COP23: Key outcomes agreed at the UN Climate Change Conference

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