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Cop23 in Bonn: the Challenges After Paris

Two years after the Cop21, the arduous task of setting the details of how the Paris Agreements will be implemented is given to the 190 represented countries, will they live up to the challenge?

 

It starts today in Bonn – presided by the Government of Fiji – the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – or more simply put, the COP 23.
Two years after the Cop21, the arduous task of setting the details of how the Paris Agreements will be implemented is given to the 190 represented countries, will they live up to the challenge?

The Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement was the outcome of the Cop21 that was held in Paris at the end of 2015, with the participation of 196 states.

The key outcomes of the negotiation were:

  • To keep global temperatures below 20C above pre-industrial times and possibly to limit them even more, to 1.5C.
  • To limit greenhouse gas emissions from human activity to the level that the natural environment can absorb spontaneously.
  • To review every five years each country’s contribution to emissions cutting, so to allow them to scale up their efforts.
  • For richer countries to switch to renewables and provide “climate finance” to adapt to climate change.

The Paris Agreement was to enter into force only once 55 countries covering 55% of global emissions have ratified the Agreement. The threshold was reached on 5th October 2016 and on 4th November 2016 the Paris Agreement entered into force. Today 169 countries have ratified the Agreement.

Notwithstanding the fact that the Paris Agreement was certainly a remarkable achievement, it raised some criticisms since it does not set specific targets for emission reduction at national level. Ratifying countries are on the contrary required to set their own targets and there are no enforcement mechanism in place.

What can be expected from Cop23?

The main challenge that Cop23 is facing is the task of really detailing the terms of implementation and the concrete steps to be taken by individual countries to achieve the common goals set in the Paris Accords.
Another element is the ambiguous attitude of the US towards the Agreement, which could possibly threaten its efficacy. The Trump administration withdraw from the Paris Agreement, but immediately showed signs of reconsidering this decision. It remains to be seen wheter or not the international commitments will lay on the solid ground of strong international political consensus.
Also, timing is key. In order to keep the world’s climate to ideally 1.5 degrees, it is necessary to act quickly to avoid any delays in implementation. A defined timetable of the results to be achieved and of the implementation of incentives and green finance have to be agreed.

190 countries will be involved in a 10 days negotiation, the result of it will depend on a variety of factors, but it is not to be assumed.

Keep posted for more in two weeks!

 

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