Climate urgency mounts in lead up to COP23

A ministerial meeting in Fiji has stressed the urgent need for progress to meet the pressing schedules of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and build a global “Grand Coalition” of action between all levels of government, business and civil society.

The two-day meeting in Nadi is discussing how governments can progress at COP23 to complete the full set of operational guidelines under the Paris Agreement to help government and non-government participants to meet the goals of Paris. Governments intend to finish this task in 2018 at COP24.

“Nations cannot protect themselves individually without all the parties to the Paris Agreement doing what they have already agreed to do and more,” COP23 President and Prime Minister of Fiji told delegates from 68 countries at the two-day “pre-COP” in Nadi.

Governments will gather on November 6 in Bonn, Germany for the two-week annual UN climate change conference (COP23), along with thousands of people from cities, states, companies and civil society organizations who are acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect their societies against climate change.

The Paris Agreement is a long-term global strategy to keep the average global temperature rise since the late 19th century below 2C degrees and as close to 1.5C as possible. With about one degree of that rise already in the system and extreme climate events rising by the year, a faster, bigger and united response is required.

Mr Bainimarama said: “We can no longer ignore this crisis. Whether it is fires in California, Portugal and Spain. Flooding in Nigeria, India and Bangladesh. The dramatic Arctic melt. Ice breaking off the continent of Antarctica. The recent hurricanes that devastated the Caribbean and the southern United States. Or the hurricane that has just struck Ireland and Scotland – the tenth hurricane of the Atlantic season this year. It’s hard to find any part of the world that is unaffected by these events.”

The meeting is also considering how to make progress at COP23 on the design of what governments call the “facilitative dialogue”, an intergovernmental forum agreed at Paris to focus on immediate solutions to meet the Agreement’s goals and encourage rising ambition in the 163 national plans for climate action (NDCs) that countries have submitted under the agreement.

The set of NDCs is the most complete set of national pledges ever made to take concrete action under a multilateral agreement. But the aggregate ambition of all the plans needs to rise quickly because it is still indicating a 3C degree average temperature rise – which can mean a devastating several degrees higher for the most vulnerable areas of the world.

Mr Bainimarama stressed that his COP23 Presidency’s central tasks were to make progress on both these areas of work and to design a dialogue imbued with the spirit of “Talanoa” - a Fijian concept of an open and transparent discussion without accusatory finger-pointing.

Joining the Nadi meeting, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the observable impacts of climate change highlight the urgency of building resilience to climate change, investing in adaptation and bending the global emissions curve by 2020. She also underscored the importance of making progress on the operating system for the Paris Agreement at COP23.

She said: “The (Paris) agreement was a remarkable achievement. But, to deliver on its full potential, and assist governments and society to go further, faster, together, it needs a complete and uncluttered set of guidelines. These guidelines should ensure that the Agreement fosters scaled-up implementation, as well as honesty, transparency and confidence in climate action among nations in the years to come.”

Ms Mohammed told delegates that several leaders had offered to work closely with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in aligning their efforts and scaling up climate action.

Antonio Guterres has invited leaders to consider championing six high-impact areas at a special Climate Summit in 2019.

These areas are:

  • investment in clean technology;

  • maturing carbon pricing;

  • enabling the energy transition;

  • risk mitigation and building resilience;

  • augmenting the contribution of sub-national actors and business; and

  • mobilizing climate finance.

“Increasing ambition is the only way to keep the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius this century, and as close to 1.5 degrees as possible. By focussing on these sectors, we can substantially reduce the gap between where we are and where we need to be,” Ms Mohammed said.

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