The bumpy road to action of the Paris climate deal

The end of 2018 is a crucial date for the implementation of the climate agreement adopted in Paris in 2015 and currently ratified by 178 countries. At COP24 in Katowice, Poland, countries are due to finalized and adopt the operational guidelines of the treaty, also known as “the Paris rulebook”.

May session of UN climate negotiations closed in Bonn with little progress and an extraordinary session is scheduled for September in Bangkok.
In the meantime, recent international events have seen up-and-down developments, which reveal the road is not yet leveled for a smooth implementation of the new global climate framework.

Promises to keep

In mid-June, the ninth Petersberg Climate Dialogue took place in Berlin, attended by representatives of 35 countries. Climate finance, implementation of the Paris Agreement and the concept of “just transition” were high on the agenda of the forum, hosted by Germany since 2010 and this year co-organized by Germany and Poland.

While ministers reaffirmed the commitment “to successfully completing the Paris Agreement Work Programme at COP24”, they also underlined the need to “step up the pace of negotiations and to make the best use of the Bangkok negotiation session”, as stated in the official conclusions.

The concept of “just transition” implies considering and providing specific policy solutions to those sectors, communities, and jobs which will be affected by structural changes arising from climate policy. “Climate action and equity go hand in hand. When it comes to climate action, many economies are facing the task of realizing enormous structural changes”, Germany’s Environment Minister Svenja Schulze commented in the official release. “This Petersberg Climate Dialogue has opened up an international debate on socially just climate action – a debate in which we can learn a lot from one another.”

In his remarks at Petersberg summit, Fijian Prime Minister and COP23 President Frank Bainimarama reiterated that enhancing climate finance and closing the gap in adaptation climate finance are among the top priorities of global action agenda. “Without resolute action from governments, we have no hope of meeting the commitment made in Paris to mobilize $100-billion a year in public and private finance to climate-vulnerable nations by 2020, Bainimarama said. “Governments need to take a lead not only by increasing their own contributions to the GCF and other climate finance but by doing their part to unlock the vast pool of private capital in the global economy that can be directed towards resilience building and the transition to the zero carbon economy by 2050”.

Similar conclusions on the expectation towards COP24 and climate finance were reached at the second Ministerial meeting on Climate Action (MoCA) in Brussels, convened by the by the European Union, Canada and China. According to official conclusions, representatives from over 35 countries, including ministers from the G20 and chairs of key party groupings in the UN climate negotiations, confirmed that “the Paris Agreement is irreversible and is not to be renegotiated”, and  highlighted “the willingness to continue to demonstrate progress” in achieving the climate finance goal of USD 100 billion a year by 2020.

Raising calls for higher ambition

In parallel to the MoCA meeting, over 20 nations (including Germany, France, UK, Pacific island and Latin American states) issued a joint declaration announcing they planned to “lead from the front” in setting new, tougher climate goals by 2020. “We commit to exploring the possibilities for stepping up our own ambition, in light of the forthcoming IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C, and in this context emphasize the importance of the Talanoa Dialogue at COP24”, signatory countries said in the text. They also welcomed the decision by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to host a climate summit in September 2019, defined as “one of the biggest gatherings of world leaders on the climate challenge since COP21”, and “the biggest political opportunity to raise global ambition by 2020”.

After the European Union agreed on increased 2030 targets on renewables and energy efficiency, and EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete announced at the Moca meeting that the Union “would be in a position to … increase its emissions reduction target from the current 40% to slightly over 45% by 2030”, in late June 14 EU member states called on the European Commission to revise upwards the EU’s Paris pledge and announce at COP 24 its readiness to update its NDC by 2020. “European sector-specific policies may enable the EU to achieve higher emissions reductions in 2030 than what could be expected based on the current EU Climate and Energy Framework. Therefore, the signatories ask the European Commission to take stock before COP 24 of the impact of the additional efforts that have been provided, or will be, by these sector-specific policies, on the EU 2030 target and on the total amount of GHG emissions reductions in the EU up to 2030”, the statement says.

Troubled time for the Green Climate Fund

During its latest meeting in Songdo in early July, the Green Climate Fund Board failed to approve any new funding for climate projects. “The Board was not able to add to its portfolio of 76 projects”, it is read in the official GCF release. “Nor was the Board able to reach consensus on new policies in support of its investment criteria, or to add new partners as Accredited Entities”.

Moreover, Howard Bamsey, serving as GCF Executive Director since January 2017, resigned due to personal reasons, Climate Home News reported. The GCF has started the process for the appointment of a new Executive Director.

The Fund is the key international body in charge of channeling climate finance flows under the Paris framework, and, among the most pressing issues, it has to address the replenishment of the US contribution, after the Trump administration has made clear it will not honor an outstanding $2bn pledge made under Obama’s government.

So far, the fund has committed USD3.7bn to 76 projects aimed at helping developing countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Read more:

9th Petersberg Climate Dialogue: official releases and documents

Chairs’ Summary of Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA), 20-21 June 2018, Brussels

Document: “The UN Secretary-General’s 2019 Climate Summit and raising ambition by 2020: A Declaration for Ambition”, 21 June 2018

Common statement on the long-term strategy and the climate ambition of the EU, 25 June 2018, Luxembourg

Website of the Green Climate Fund



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