People, planet and the climate talks: poles apart?

November 10, Bonn, IBON International Updates, Tetet Nera-Lauron, – The 23rd Conference of Parties (COP 23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) taking part in Bonn, is expected to come out with decisions on a range of issues, including (a) the ‘Paris Rulebook’ – the manual that details how the 2015 agreement will be implemented; (b) a ‘Facilitative Dialogue’ to track progress on countries’ implementing the domestic actions they pledged to do; (c) what money is forthcoming and who will foot the bill for lowering emissions and transitioning to low-carbon economies (mitigation) and helping those who face the severest impacts of climate change (adaptation), and (d) how the global community responds as the impacts get more frequent and intense, and the damages are permanent and go beyond the economic sphere (loss and damage).

Midway into the first week of the annual climate talks, intense debates particularly between developed and developing countries have emerged, and are expected to heighten. While calling on world leaders to “do everything we can to make the PA work and to advance ambition and support for climate action before 2020,” Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama deferred negotiations on measuring how developed countries have delivered on their commitments to reduce emissions and to provide developing countries with resources to cope with the impacts of climate change and move towards greener technologies.

Developing countries insist this should be included in ‘pre-2020 actions’ in the formal negotiations, but developed countries do not agree.  As the Paris Agreement only comes into effect in 2020, and developing countries are demanding that a discussion be held on existing commitments to address climate change before 2020. They argue that even the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period obliges developed countries to further reduce emissions has not been ratified to date. The European Union, US, Canada, Japan, Norway and Australia staunchly oppose this proposal, citing procedural arguments including the supposed lack of time to cover all agenda items.

The task ahead at COP 23 is technically complex and politically charged, and will surely affect the outcomes of this exercise in climate diplomacy. A few days ago, Nicaragua and Syria signed on to the Paris Agreement, which then leaves only the United States as the odd country likely out of the global agreement.

People’s Climate Summit,
Days before the official climate negotiations started, there were activities that brought together representatives of civil society organizations and social movements from around the world to deliver a more critical and urgent message.
German civil society organized a People’s Climate Summit where discussions were held not only on the impacts of climate change, but on strategies for building stronger movements to push for systemic change, as the climate crisis
can only be resolved with the profound transformation of economic, social and political systems.
On November 4th, 25,000 people massed up in the largest demonstration for climate in Germany to call upon governments to take action to phase out coal and dirty energies. The German government was particularly called out as it portrays itself as a ‘climate champion’ while being the world’s largest producer of lignite (also known as ‘brown coal’).
The following day, more than four thousand people participated in a civil disobedience action in the Rhineland coal mining area, Europe’s largest CO2 emitter to stress the point that coal and other dirty energies come in the way of
climate justice
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