Fiji is also one of the most vulnerable places on Earth. Last year the island was struck by Winston, a devastating cyclone that wiped away one third of the countries’ GDP while taking the lives of 44 people. It is no surprise that building the resilience of most vulnerable societies has been elevated as a top priorities of this negotiation round. In his opening speech, the President Bainimarama stressed how "millions of people are suffering" from climate change and "our job is to respond to their suffering". How to do so, had already been brought forward last May when Fiji shared its vision for COP 23. The vision include supporting efforts to adapt to extreme (cyclones) and slow onset events (eg., sea level rise); rising adaptation finance; enabling access to climate risk and disaster insurance; ensuring access to clean water and promoting sustainable agriculture. This must be paired with ambitious mitigation efforts, aiming at keeping temperature increase below 1.5°C of temperature increase with respect to pre-industrial levels.
COP 23 is expected to achieve substantial progress on the so called "Rulebook" of the Paris agreement, i.e. the set of implementation guidelines that will make the agreement up and running. These guidelines are expected to specify the way national efforts in terms of mitigation, adaptation, and support provided will be reported and reviewed. This is particularly important for tracking progress in a transparent way and to identify areas where ambition is to be enhanced.
In UNFCCC jargon, States’ climate plans are referred to as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and specify the objectives countries aim to reach to meet the Paris Agreement goals. However, NDC will become operational only after 2020 (this is when the Agreement will start to work). In order to get to that date with the most ambitious actions on the table a Facilitative dialogue will be convened next year to understand how to rump up the ambition of national pledges. COP23 is expected to put in motion this process, newly baptized as "Talanoa Dialogue". Talanoa is a Fijian concept stressing the importance of sharing stories, building emphasis and making wise decision for the common good.
Indeed, wise decisions are strongly needed. In the opening Plenary, President Bainimarama left the floor to the representatives of the most authoritative sources of scientific information on climate change: Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), and Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Both underlined how CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has reached the highest level ever registered in the past 3 million years and how sea level rise, extreme temperatures and extreme events are now a common reality. "2017 will probably be the third hottest year in a raw ever recorded, pointing to a clear warming trend of the climate. And this will happen without the contribution of El Niño, that was instead paying a role in the past two years" said Taalas. According to recently released data by the WMO, our world is already 1.1 °C warmer than pre-industrial levels.
Against this background, there is still someone thinking that fossil fuels can have a future. Trump’s fossil agenda at COP 23 will be presented in the side event "The Role of Cleaner and More Efficient Fossil Fuels and Nuclear Power in Climate Mitigation," and will feature speakers from Peabody Energy, a coal company; NuScale Power, a nuclear engineering firm and Tellurian, a liquefied natural gas exporter.
by Elisa Calliari e Paulo Lima