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UN climate conference makes progress on Paris Agreement implementation

This year's climate conference, COP23, concluded today with steps forward to ensure global climate action through the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Nearly 200 countries gathered at COP23, held in Bonn, Germany under the presidency of Fiji. The parties made concrete progress on turning the historic 2015 agreement into action on the ground across the world, ahead of next year's UN climate conference to be held in Katowice, Poland.

According to the European Commission (EC), this year’s climate conference, COP23 held in Bonn, Germany concluded with steps forward to ensure global climate action through the implementation of the Paris Agreement (photo courtesy EC).

The Paris Agreement sets out a global framework for climate action and the necessary transition to a low-carbon future in order to limit global warming to well below 2°C. Under the Paris Agreement, the EU has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 40 percent till 2030 compared to 1990 level.

As stated by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address, the EU wants to remain the global leader in the fight against climate change. To reaffirm this commitment to ambitious climate action, President Juncker will lead the Commission delegation at the ‘One Planet Summit’ to be hosted by the French President Emanuel Macron, the United Nations and the World Bank in Paris on 12 December.

The spirit of Paris is very much alive. We achieved progress in Bonn on the issues that were important to the EU, such as the Paris Work Program. But we must continue to build on this momentum in the coming months because there is still a lot of work ahead of us before we meet in Katowice next year. The main objective must be to keep the world firmly on the path towards what was agreed two years ago in Paris, said Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy.

According to a statement, the EU again had a “central role” in brokering agreements during the two-week climate negotiations. As a “sign of climate leadership”, the EU announced on Thursday 16 that it intends to deposit the ratification instruments of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol by the end of this year.

The Doha Amendment concerns the second period of the Kyoto Protocol, which requires parties to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2020. The EU has already exceeded its 2020 targets in 2016 by having decreased emissions by 23 percent. The decision to swiftly ratify the Doha Amendment demonstrates the EU’s commitment to the international climate action and “shows that the EU makes good on its promises”.

Concrete steps forward were also taken on the work program for implementing the Paris Agreement. Clarity on the design of the so-called ‘Talanoa Dialogue’ (Facilitative Dialogue) has been achieved looking at how global climate action can be accelerated in the years to come. The Facilitative Dialogue next year will be the opportunity for political stock-taking for the parties on progress made on the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

COP23 also brought outcomes on a number of other key issues:

Facilitative (Talanoa)Dialogue – the design of the Talanoa Dialogue has been agreed here in Bonn to set a firm base for ambitiously accelerating global efforts to tackle climate change. The Dialogue will provide a space to showcase progress and share best practice in tackling climate change, with contributions from every corner of society.

Pre-2020 ambition – the discussions on pre-2020 ambition concluded with an agreement on a decision text which foresees two stocktaking exercises on pre-2020 implementation and ambition to take place at COP24 and COP25. The EU has already exceeded its 2020 target by having decreased emissions by 23 percent in 2016. Furthermore, the EU and its Member States remain the biggest donors of climate finance to developing countries with a contribution of EUR 20.2 billion in 2016.

Loss and damage – the parties agreed on a substantive decision text. They worked out a compromise proposal that takes into account asks from the vulnerable and small islands while keeping a balance with what had been already agreed. An expert dialogue will be organised in May 2018 to enhance the support for Loss and Damage.

Gender Action Plan – the COP23 agreed on the first Gender Action Plan under the Convention, a priority for the Fijian presidency. The EU actively supported this action and many Member States invested efforts at the highest level in getting this initiative through.

Indigenous Peoples’ Platform – the Parties agreed on the functioning of the local communities and indigenous peoples’ platform, which was established at COP21 in Paris. Again the EU played an important role in securing the outcome.

Next steps

Ahead of the next UN climate conference, COP24 in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018, the EU will play an active role in a number of key high-level climate events, starting with the ‘One Planet Summit’ in Paris next month.

Next year, the EU will also host the second Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA) together with Canada and China, in Brussels, and takes part in the 2018 Petersberg Climate Dialogue, as well as preparatory UN climate meetings in Bonn and Katowice ahead of COP24.

The release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5 celsius ahead of Katowice will be an important source of information for discussions under the Talanoa Dialogue.

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