COP 23 – An insight Into The Paris Agreement One Year Later

On the 6 November 2017, nations worldwide will attend the Bonn Conference in Germany to discuss climate action and to reinforce their promises under the Paris Agreement. One year after the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the Bonn Conference signifies an opportunity for nations to review climate related goals for the future, and assess their compliance to the Paris Agreement so far. Informally known as COP 23, the Bonn Conference is also an important stage for UN officials to voice their concern on the lack of action to combat climate change in the international community. In preparation for the conference, Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) stated “We are running out of time to turn things around. To do so, we must significantly increase our efforts to reduce emission and our carbon footprints.”

The Paris Agreement was initially formed to combat the growing threat of global warming, and consisted of nations agreeing to a plan to limit global warming to below two degrees Celsius. It further aims to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which is the fastest-expanding climate pollutant. For example, the Australian government addressed their commitments in a fact sheet that detailed their domestic climate change policies, and listed their principal obligation made under the Paris Agreement of “committing to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.”

Increasing the compliance and ambition of states on addressing the issue of action on climate change is a key focus of the conference. However, timing is also extremely important as climate related crises continue to occur at alarming rates. Dangerous weather patterns are affecting every continent on earth in one way or another, and it is becoming increasingly hard to find a nation that is unaffected by climate change.  Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who is also the President of COP 23, agrees that climate related work needs to be addressed immediately, stating “We can no longer ignore this crisis. Whether it is fires in California, Portugal and Spain. Flooding in Nigeria, India and Bangladesh. The dramatic Arctic melt. Ice breaking off the continent of Antarctica. The recent hurricanes that devastated the Caribbean and the southern United States… It’s hard to find any part of the world that is unaffected by these events.”

The United Nations expressed a key objective of the Bonn Conference is to “complete the rule book for operationalizing the Paris Agreement.” This task may prove to be extremely difficult, as there are many implementation details that are still undetermined. The Paris Agreement signifies a critical point in states’ commitment to combatting global warming, and thus states must develop specific rules and guidelines to execute the Paris Agreement with the long-term in mind. Annie Sneed, reporting for the Scientific American, expresses what issues will be addressed at the conference.“The numerous rules will address issues such as how countries will track and report their emissions and have them verified, all in a transparent way; how countries will be required to communicate their future emissions-reduction plans…” The conference is a good stage for nations to demonstrate their goals and plans to implement the Paris Agreement, however there are still many concerns that nations must address in order for the agreement to be effective.