The COP23 climate change summit in Bonn and why it matters

The world’s nations have met for the 23rd annual “conference of the parties” (COP) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which aims to halt global warming. It took place in Bonn, Germany from 6-17 November.

The landmark Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015 delivered the first truly global deal to tackle climate change, but national action needs to be significantly toughened to meet the goal of keeping global temperature rise to well below 2C, and 1.5C if possible.

The Paris Agreement set out principles, but not the details. The current pledges for carbon cuts by the world’s nations would mean at least 3C of global warming and severe damage.

So the Paris agreement included a mechanism for the pledges to be reviewed and ratcheted up, but without setting the rules. The vital groundwork for this has to be done in Bonn before being finalized in 2018 therefore the meeting was vital in building the rules that will enable the Paris deal to work.

As a result, the Bonn-Fiji Commitment was made – a commitment to action adopted by over 300 local and regional leaders to deliver the Paris Agreement at all levels, supported with 20 initiatives including those focusing on Africa, islands, post-industrial cities and climate reporting standards.

Backed by a wide range of positive announcements from governments, cities, states, regions, companies and civil society, delegates from over 190 countries agreed to a 12-month engagement focusing on ‘Where are we, where do we want to go and how do we get there?

About the UNFCCC

With 197 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

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