Climate Pledge

A mockup of a planet earth is displayed at the Rheinaue park during the COP23 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany. (Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images)

BONN — Under the shadow of the U.S. decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement, nearly 200 nations Nov. 18 pledged to launch a process next year to start reviewing existing plans to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

A set of decisions to accelerate actions to minimize emissions ahead of 2020 included allocation of finances by the developed world and adopting climate adaptation policies.

Stepping up climate risk insurance, Germany pledged an additional $125 million to support provision of insurance to 400 more million poor and vulnerable people by 2020, in addition to Germany's further contribution of 50 million euros to the climate adaptation fund.

Climate experts told IANS the design for the 'Talanoa Dialogue,' a process to take stock and test options for enhanced ambition during 2018, was one of the major outcome at the two-week negotiations that saw assembly of 197 country delegates.

Talanoa is the Pacific tradition of decision-making based on respect and understanding to a negotiating process that has often lacked both.

The countries endorsed the 'Talanoa dialogue,' which will help countries and non-state actors push new boundaries for enhancing climate action, said an expert.

"Countries also came together on urgent action, pre-2020 ambition. As impacts have intensified and low carbon opportunities have grown, the demand for climate action has deepened. Creating space for this important discussion has been a crucial trust building process and bodes well for securing robust Paris rules by COP24 next year," the expert added.

The common message from all sides at this conference has been that action to get on track towards the objectives of the Paris Agreement and to ultimately achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals is urgent, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat said.

Pledging to continue with its commitments to minimize emissions, it said: "Time is really running out and everyone simply must do much better together to drive climate action further and faster ahead now."

"Above all, this means rapidly raising the current global ambition to act on climate change that is captured in the full set of national climate action plans, which sits at the heart of the Agreement."

The two-week negotiations were aimed at taking a number of decisions necessary to bring the 2015 Paris Agreement to life, including meaningful progress on the agreement to implement guidelines to keep global warming within 1.5 degrees Celsius with an aim to cut greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels.

According to an environmental advocacy group, the decision to maintain the Adaptation Fund under the Paris Agreement speaks to the necessary balance that the Paris regime requires in pursuing efforts to adapt and build resilience to impacts while the planet warms as countries decarbonize.

"The outcome is testament to countries' unwavering commitment to the Paris Agreement following the announcement of the U.S. government's intent to withdraw. U.S. non-state actors rose to the occasion, as the 'We Are Still In' coalition of businesses, cities, states, etc. showed that many parts of the U.S. society remain in Paris," it said.

The talks, however, missed many prominent issues like financial support for developing nations for cutting emissions and climate adaptation.

Among the major announcements are funds to support the poorest and most vulnerable, whose plight has been brought into sharp perspective by this year's extreme weather, a UNFCCC spokesperson said.

In the InsuResilience Initiative, the additional $125 million from Germany will support the provision of insurance to an additional 400 million poor and vulnerable people by 2020.

According to recent estimates, only about 100 million people in developing countries and emerging economies are currently covered by climate risk insurance.

Likewise, the climate adaptation fund exceeded its target with Germany's contribution of 50 million euros and Italy's contribution of seven million euros, which means the fund has now surpassed its 2017 target by over $13 million and stands at the equivalent of $93.3 million dollars.

At Bonn, India reiterated the need for provisions for finances – both for adaptation and mitigation, and technology transfer for climate actions from developed nations.

A day after a major victory for India and developing countries on climate action before 2020, which the developed world agreed to discuss in the subsequent two years, India's Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Harsh Vardhan said provisions for finance, technology transfer and capacity building support to developing nations are critical.

Stressing that this Conference of Parties is crucial as it will set the stage for the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue, accelerate pre-2020 action and firm up the modalities for implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement, he said India has undertaken a series of ambitious mitigation and adaptation actions.

The actions are in the fields of clean energy, especially renewable energy; enhancement of energy efficiency; development of less carbon-intensive and resilient urban centers; promotion of waste-to-wealth and efforts to enhance carbon sink through the creation of forests and tree cover.

On the demand of BASIC countries – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – Fiji, which was presiding over the conference, has also been asked to send letters to all countries which are yet to ratify the Doha amendments to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 to do so "as soon as possible."

(Vishal Gulati is in Bonn at the invitation of Global Editors Network to cover COP23. He can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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