United Nations Climate Change Talks
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP 23 Climate Talks took place 11/6 – 17, 2017 in Bonn, Germany.
Nations agreed to launch the next steps towards higher climate action ambition before 2020 at the close of the annual UN climate conference held in the German city of Bonn.
The ‘Talanoa Dialogue’, a concept of constructive discussion, will set the stage in Poland in 2018 for the revising upwards of national climate action plans needed to put the world on track to meet ambitions and long-term goals of the two-year-old Paris Agreement.
Backed by a wide range of positive announcements from governments, cities, states, regions, companies and civil society, delegates from over 190 countries agreed to the 12-month engagement focusing on ‘Where are we, where do we want to go and how do we get there?’
A further strong message from all sides at COP23 was the growing need to coordinate efforts across policy, planning and investment to ensure that every cent invested and every minute of work contributed results in a much greater impact and boosts ambition under the national climate plans.
U.S. INVOLVEMENT --- Some heartening news:
The U.S. Climate Action Center at COP23 was organized by a coalition whose members include, but are not limited to: The American Sustainable Business Council, Center for American Progress, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Entrepreneurs, Local Governments for Sustainability, We Mean Business, and World Wildlife Fund.
Lou Leonard, Senior Vice President on Climate Change and Energy at World Wildlife Fund, took part at the U.S. Climate Action Center. He made the following points in support of climate action at local levels as opposed to national level:
On the local level climate change is much less political than at the national level, and much more real to the people because they see it happening in their communities.
De-politicizing the issue opens up a whole new level of opportunities.
While it doesn’t look like the Trump administration will change its stance on the Paris Agreement anytime soon, that is not a priority; U.S. cities committed to the Paris Agreement aren’t going to wait for Washington.
We Are Still In, a bottom-up network supported by many individuals and organizations, is described as the broadest cross-section of the U.S. economy ever assembled in pursuit of climate action. America’s Pledge is a separate initiative spearheaded by UN Special Envoy Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Jerry Brown that is working in parallel with We Are Still In to compile and tally the climate actions of states, cities, colleges, businesses, and other local actors across the entire U.S. economy.
An Inspiring Incident (excerpted from a post-conference email from climate movement activists at 350.org)
The only event the Trump administration hosted at the talks was a panel promoting “clean” coal, nuclear, and other fossil fuels. A description of an incident that took place as fossil fuel executives took the stage to speak: hundreds of people rose up in a beautiful and powerful moment, disrupting the event by singing, and walked out.
This powerful act of resistance was led by members of the U.S. People’s Delegation. The Delegation came to Germany to stand their ground as the true representatives of the people of the United States.
Through direct actions, speak outs, and discussions with elected officials this Delegation spotlighted that true climate leadership in the U.S. comes from the people.
This incident is just one prime example (there are many more) of how the solidarity and committed action of a grassroots movement can further bring climate change facts to light, and just how necessary these movements are as we work for global sustainability and to mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
Of course it is not my intention to undervalue the smaller actions or victories achieved by any climate change activist. We need to pursue all types of action--individual or group, large or small--in order to raise awareness of the impending threat to our planet and to the lives of our descendents.
Prime Minister of Fiji and COP23 President Frank Bainimarama stated in his closing remarks:
“We have done the job we were given to do, which is to advance the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement and prepare for more ambitious action in the Talanoa Dialogue of 2018.”
“We leave Bonn having notched up some notable achievements, including our Ocean Pathway, the historic agreement on agriculture and others on a Gender Action Plan and Indigenous People’s Platform. We have also secured more funding for climate adaptation and launched a global partnership to assist millions of climate-vulnerable people the world over.”
LUUF members and friends: I have attempted to give an overview of the 2017 COP23 Conference. There is much more information out there which is beyond the scope of this article. Much of what took place strikes a hopeful and encouraging note. For a more complete picture of the Conference, I urge anyone that has not already done so to search out this information. To assist, I have listed my own sources and recommendations below.
Highly Recommended Documentaries and Videos:
Before the Flood—a documentary directed and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio (at our local libraries or for purchase online)
“An Inconvenient Truth— Strange Prophecy” - 49 minutes
“ An inconvenient truth 2 – a film about the world getting better” - 53 minutes – (Hopeful, inspiring news)
Highly Recommended Reading
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming -- Paul Hawken
Just Cool It—The Climate Crisis and What We Can Do – David Suzuki