By Atayi Babs
Delegates from about 196 countries have gathered in Bonn, Germany for what has become a semblance of a yearly ritual – the 23rd conference of parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The conference holds from the 6 -17 November 2017 in Bonn under the leadership of Fiji which is the first small island developing state to hold this role.
The COP is coming at a time extreme weather events like floods, hurricanes and fires have destabilised millions of people in Africa Asia, the Americas and the Caribbean. COP 23 therefore aspires to propel the world towards the next level of ambition needed to tackle global warming and put the world on a safer and more prosperous development path.
Africa and the COP Process
At the beginning of COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco, November 2016, the Paris Agreement era had been ushered in. Countries of the world had demonstrated commitment and the Agreement had come into force faster than anticipated. Due to this reality, COP 22 then focused on how to make Paris agreement work by setting up mechanisms and structures that would facilitate its implementation.
A year later and with with over 33 African countries ratifying the Paris Agreement, Africans are heading to Bonn with a bag full of expectations for the continent and the world.
As the region with least contribution to green house gas emissions and the most affected in terms of climate disasters, African delegates are not happy with the failure of the COP process to close the finance gap; inadequacy in pledges; delay in addressing ‘orphan issues’ under the Paris Agreement especially common time-frames for NDCs, and adjustment of existing NDCs. Others are recognition of developing countries’ adaptation efforts; guidance related to finance; and the slow pace and ambiguity in sequencing of work on the Paris Agreement Rule Book thus creating roadblocks in advancing the its formulation.
Prof Seth Osafo of the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) believes that the slow progress by developed country parties towards reaching the US$100 billion goal of joint annual mobilisation by 2020 is not in Africa’s interest. Speaking at the African civil society Pre-COP workshop in Bonn, Prof Osafo said Africa’s interest lies in developed countries providing financial support to developing countries and positioning the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB) to provide support to developing countries in finance, technology and capacity building.
At the Pre-COP workshop organised by African civil society actors including farmers, pastoralists, youth and gender groups under the umbrella of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), non-state actors from the region expressed their desire for loss and damage concerns to be fully taken into consideration as the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) shifts to serve the Paris Agreement after 2020.
According to Mithika Mwenda, Secretary General of the alliance, parties should establish a globally supported insurance mechanism (especially for agriculture and infrastructure sectors) in line with the objectives of the WIM for Loss & Damage by 2020. “We call on Parties to establish a framework, preferably outside but complimentary to UNFCCC, for addressing liability or compensation due to losses and damages in developing countries by extreme weather events and severe impacts of climate change” he added.
Heading into the 23rd session of the Conference of Parties this year, one of the issues that have emerged as key expectation for African Parties to this year’s climate talks is progress on pre-2020 commitments.
African groups want COP23 to provide an opportunity for rich countries to revisit their commitment to undertake pre-2020 actions. The deliverables could be the concrete progress or signal with regards to the ratification of the Doha Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol (KP) to enable the entry into force of the second commitment period (for emissions reductions by developed countries under the KP) and the operationalisation of the US$100b per year from 2020 and other resources for developing countries.
The implementation of pre-2020 commitments which cover actions to be taken before the Paris Agreement comes into force are of high importance to safeguard the future of the climate.
Rule book for Paris Agreement
Another issue of urgent African importance at this COP is progress on the work programme to implement the Paris Agreement. Negotiations on the Paris Rule Book will be critical to ensuring that the promises made in the Paris Agreement are met. Some of these promises include the commitment of governments to respect, protect and take into consideration existing human rights obligations.
To enhance the likelihood that the Paris Agreement is effectively implemented, when developing the Paris Rule Book, parties are expected to integrate human rights and the social and environmental principles reaffirmed in the agreement’s preamble, including the rights of indigenous peoples, public participation, gender equality, safeguarding food security and ending hunger, a just transition, and ecosystem integrity.
Facilitative Dialogue 2018
According to the agreement reached in Paris, a facilitative dialogue (FD 2018) is to be convened to take stock of the collective efforts of Parties in relation to progress towards the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement and to inform the preparation of nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
The Facilitative Dialogue is expected to ensure the linkage between policies, actions and means of implementation. It will also be instrumental to maintaining the political momentum of the Paris Agreement and its long-term goal and the need to be informed by what science indicates as necessary for climate actions and ambition for next 15 years.
The design of the dialogue as an overall feature together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5°C, the work of the climate champions and work of non-state actors, are critical for this purpose.