COP24: Crucial to increase climate action!

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COP24, the 24th annual UNFCCC conference, will take place in December 2018. After a presidency ensured by Fiji in 2017, it is Poland’s turn to take the lead in this international climate negotiation involving 192 States.

COP24 will take place in Poland

COP22 in Marrakech in 2016, and COP23 in Bonn in 2017, were step conferences to ensure we are ready to meet the key challenges for successful implementation of the Paris Agreement. Two years before its entry into force, 2018 is time to set-up the rules to support the ambition of countries and anchor the real economy in climate action.

Paris Agreement: a zero net emissions target by 2100

Adopted in 2015, the Paris Agreement on Climate sets out a common long-term target: holding the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees (or even 1.5°C) and to reach this target during the second half of the century.

To achieve this, the Paris Agreement provides an unprecedented international framework for climate action by linking political, economic, financial and social spheres. It defines a new dynamic based on:

  • Multilateral governance, which assesses progress and monitors the achievement of the long-term target through a robust system of transparency and accountability of States
  • National Determined Contributions (NDC) of States that specify their climate targets
  • The climate action of public and private non-state actors

Finally, the Agreement provides for a key mechanism: assessments of progress (a global stocktake) every five years to ensure that countries that have ratified the Agreement turn their commitment into action.

For the Paris Agreement to become operational by 2020, the COP24 must conclude two processes in 2018:

  • The definition of its operating rules
  • The initial global stocktaking exercise in 2018, named as the facilitative dialogue. This facilitative dialogue will provide an opportunity for countries to assess collective progress already made and to give opportunities to take further action prior to submitting new or enhanced NDCs ahead of 2020.

issue # 1: the rulebook made in Poland

To be implemented in practice, many decisions are expected to be made at COP24. The Paris Agreement mentions only general principles and objectives for each of its chapters. It is therefore necessary to establish a rulebook, meaning a set of applicable and detailed rules based on these principles to explain who does what, when and how, to:

  • Harmonize the content and timing of NDCs, for example on accounting for GHG emissions from agriculture and forestry
  • Organize the global five-year stocktake of GHG emission reduction efforts
  • Establish the transparency framework
  • Structure international cooperation mechanisms, in terms of financing with the mobilization of USD 100 billion, technology transfers and capacity building between developed and developing countries.

These numerous technical points must be decided in 2018 to facilitate the political dialogue between countries.

issue # 2: Talanoa Dialogue and the first global stocktaking exercise

At COP23, countries agreed to launch in 2018 a year-long “dialogue” to assess the way forward to achieve carbon neutrality as stipulated in the Paris Agreement. Countries will then use this assessment to submit more ambitious NDC, with the first review scheduled in 2020.

This political dialogue, symbolically named by the Fijian Presidency “Talanoa Dialogue” (#TD2018) (a Fijian word associating “tala” meaning “telling stories” and “noa” meaning “without concealment), aims to facilitate an inclusive, participative, transparent, constructive, and solution-oriented process to answer the following 3 questions:

  1. Where are we?
  2. Where do we want to go?
  3. How can we do it?

This TD2018 will have a preparatory phase, articulating local, national and regional events and debates, with an international session in May, and a closing political phase in December at COP24. To launch this preparatory phase of the dialogue, the UNFCCC has launched the Talanoa online platform on which States, cities, companies and other stakeholders are encouraged to submit their contributions to negotiations in April-May in Bonn and December in COP 24.

This dialogue will be aided by the publication of a special report in October 2018  produced by the IPCC and commissioned at COP21 about the consequences of a global warming of 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. If, despite conclusions of this report, the ambition is not raised, the next step will be in 2023, when a new global assessment of collective efforts to reduce GHG emissions is planned.

More and more companies and investors committed to be carbon neutral

The issue of climate change is now being discussed around the world to accelerate the consideration of climate risks by the economic, industrial and financial sectors. Summits and conferences, high-level working groups, sectorial initiatives and reports are multiplying: the One Planet Summit in December 2017 in Paris, the Davos Summit in January 2018, the report of the High-Level Expert Group on sustainable finance (HLEG) published this February 2018, etc., all contribute to advancing investors and companies to reduce the carbon footprint of their activities.

This week’s author Emilie Aberdrola is Head of Climate Policy for Carbon Clear’s parent company EcoAct.

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In 2017, many organizations announced or confirmed ambitious climate commitments (such as the City of Paris, DPDgroup, Atos or Orangina). Let’s make a date with climate action in 2018, to make it a year of unprecedented progress.

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