COP23 puts a strong focus on ambition, even as countries defer immediate action | WWF

COP23 puts a strong focus on ambition, even as countries defer immediate action

Posted on
17 November 2017

BONN, 17 November 2017 – As the UN climate talks end, WWF recognizes the progress made on laying the groundwork for increasing climate ambition up to 2020 and beyond, but notes that 2018 will be key for countries to clearly signal their intention to step up and enhance their climate plans. In the hours remaining, WWF urges parties to resolve the issues still pending.

A year after the Paris Agreement entered into force, negotiations over the past two weeks have seen countries come to agreement on critical issues of pre-2020 action and support, and the role of gender, local communities and Indigenous Peoples in climate action. However, much remains to be done to ensure we seize the small window of opportunity we have to achieve the objectives of this landmark climate accord. Governments must strengthen urgent action, finalize the Paris Agreement rulebook and decide collectively to review and strengthen ambition of post-2020 climate commitments urgently. 

“From the outset, the paradoxes at this COP have been many. Negotiators have gathered in Bonn under a Fiji Presidency and, as states deliberate on future action, cities, regions, businesses and communities have stepped up their efforts toward achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. We also saw that despite the momentum seen in the corridors in Bonn, domestically countries are still falling behind” said Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, head of WWF’s global climate and energy programme. “In a year marked by extreme weather disasters and potentially the first increase in carbon emissions in four years, the paradox between what we are doing and need to be delivering is clear: countries must act with greater climate ambition, and soon, to put us on a path to a 1.5°C future.”

By raising the profile of pre-2020 action in the UNFCCC process, and agreeing on the design of a process to review and increase ambition through the Talanoa Dialogue, COP23 has provided important building blocks to move the spirit of the Paris Agreement forward. But success is far from guaranteed. The Polish presidency must complement, and aim to bolster, Fiji’s efforts to accelerate progress towards finalizing the Rulebook that will guide the implementation of the Paris Agreement and ensure scaled up, predictable finance for developing countries, including for loss and damage.

“Two years ago, countries around the world were entrusted with an important mandate in Paris. Today, they are making progress but with the impacts of climate change accelerating, the pace and scale of the response is still insufficient. It is time to show bolder vision, innovation, and urgent action - domestically and on the international front - and build on the clear momentum we are seeing in our societies and economies already. We look to Poland to continue Fiji’s legacy to translate the ambition and vision of the Paris Agreement into reality,” added Pulgar-Vidal.

Countries are not the only ones taking action. Through the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, efforts underway by states and non-State actors - including cities, regions, business, investors, and civil society - to galvanize climate action were in the spotlight at COP23 in Bonn. The WWF ‘PandaHub’ Pavilion hosted a full programme of dialogues and events to showcase the value of collaboration and innovation to create a sustainable, resilient future for all.

In addition, the U.S. Climate Action Center brought together over 100 prominent leaders from U.S. state and local governments, private sector and academia showing the U.S.’ commitment to remaining a global frontrunner in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. WWF is one of many organizations supporting the new generation of climate leaders who comprise the “We Are Still In”  movement, the largest U.S. coalition ever assembled in support of climate action. “Never before has a coalition of American business, state and local leaders come together under a common banner to drive climate action,” said Lou Leonard, WWF’s senior vice president of climate change and energy.  “By working together, they can ensure that the United States meets its commitment under the Paris Agreement while creating new jobs and creating a safer future for communities in America and around the world.”

Critical relationship between oceans and climate recognized

This year we have seen unprecedented attention to the role of the ocean in climate, both in terms of impact and on approaches to mitigation and adaptation. After COP21 in Paris in 2015, the role of oceans in climate has been increasingly recognized; the UN held its first Oceans Conference this year after 72 years of existence and in 2019 the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change) will release its first report on Oceans and Climate Change.

One of the key outcomes of COP23 is the “Because the Ocean” declaration, backed by the launch of the Roadmap to Oceans and Climate Action (ROCA) report.

The discussion on the importance of oceans also touched on how economic development based on ocean-based “blue economies” provides a way forward for sustainable economic development of coastal and island countries. The blue economy encompasses a range of economic sectors including harvesting and trade of marine life, extraction and use of marine resources, use of oceans-related renewable energies, coastal development and protection, tourism and recreation as well as eco-systemic services.

WWF actively participated at COP23 to ensure that the critical relationship between oceans and climate is recognized, to create a work programme addressing issues related to oceans, to ensure that National Determined Contributions (NDCs) include all available measures to adapt to a changing climate and restore coastal and marine carbon sinks, to prioritize climate change funding for healthy oceans, to develop sustainable and alternative pathways to ensure food security and income for coastal communities.

For more information, read the blogs by Manuel Pulgar-Vidal,  the leader of WWF’s global climate and energy programme, and Brad Ack, Senior VP for Oceans, WWF-US.

The 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the UNFCCC will take place from 3-14 December 2018, in Katowice, Poland.

For further information:
Rucha Naware, WWF International,; +447393776573
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