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COP23: Key Outcomes

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Bonn 2017
Photo Emmanuel Macron's famous hashtag, setting the tone for climate action at COP23.

Literally and figuratively, the Fiji in Bonn COP was about cleaning up after the storm – or, rather, a succession of storms.

The extreme weather events that made headlines around the world certainly gave the annual event a sense of relevance and urgency, but cleaning up, as we all know, is an unglamorous process. Behind the scenes, the work got done, however, and, once one task was completed, another one presented itself. Here’s a run down of the principal tasks that COP23 got in the bag.

Urgent Action

Pre-2020 ambition became an unexpected focus point in negotiations. Parties rose to the occasion, creating the processes we need to allow for increased climate action in the run-up to 2020 when Paris commitments kick-in. Furthermore, they signed off on a vision for the ‘Talanoa dialogue.’ This will allow countries to take stock of the adequacy of current and projected actions as well as identify opportunities to enhance climate ambition and action. 

The Paris Rules

Progress was also made on negotiating the rules for the Paris Agreement. With the 2018 deadline for completion now looming large, countries will have to continue to work towards a robust package of rules to provide greater confidence for businesses and investors that decarbonisation is firmly underway. Countries need to intensify their efforts to finalise the 'Paris Rules' and consider options to strengthen the flow of finance and enhance climate action.

A social transition

One place where real progress was made was in empowering vulnerable communities’ voices. For example, the adoption of the Gender Action plan, the operationalisation of the Indigenous Peoples Platform and a major focus on issues of climate education and capacity building. The Fijian Presidency strongly delivered on one of its core priorities.

End coal!

Coal was in the spotlight, as Germany came under scrutiny for its continued use. We saw the successful launch of the Beyond Coal campaign in Europe, with Bloomberg committing $50mn to expand the shift away from coal. We also welcomed the launch of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, bringing together 27 countries and regions to accelerate clean growth and climate protection through the rapid phase-out of coal power. Financial markets are increasingly moving away from coal as well, with numerous divestment announcements coming out during COP. Norway’s biggest pension fund, Storebrand, is planning to move $80bn from ten coal-linked companies to solar and wind investments. Zurich became the latest insurer to announce its plans to divest, bringing the overall amount of divestment from insurers up to around $20bn in just the last two years.

There were a number of other similar collaborative actions and announcements taking place just outside negotiations, proving Paris is becoming a reality. And the trend is only expected to grow. If anything, real economy momentum seems to have overtaken ambition in the negotiations.

Money, money, money

It was a good two weeks for greening the financial sector. The UN Environment and World Bank Group launched a ‘Roadmap for a Sustainable Financial System’ proposing an integrated approach for public and private stakeholders. The volume of green bonds issued since January 2017 passed the $100 billion mark, with China, France and the US leading the charge. Finally, we saw a proliferation of climate risk insurance solutions at the conference. There was the launch of the InsuResilience Global Partnership Forum, the Fiji Clearning House for Risk transfer and the Climate Vulnerable Forum’s Sustainable Insurance and Takaful Facility which previewed an Islamic finance-based insurance facility.

The US, but not as we knew it

The outcomes of COP23, both progress within the negotiations as well as real economy momentum, are a testament to the world’s unwavering commitment to the Paris Agreement. While the US delegation flew under the radar, US’ cities, states and businesses took the spotlight. The release of the first phase of the Americas Pledge report by the “We Are Still In” coalition particularly captured the attention of delegates and the media. The report showcases how U.S. cities, states, businesses, investors, faith leaders, universities and other non-federal actors are progressing on delivery of the Paris Agreement. It wasn’t just US-based actors stepping up to the plate either. Cities and Regions around the world issued the Bonn-Fiji commitment, while the Under2 Coalition of global states and regions surpassed 200 members with 16 new jurisdictions joining during COP23.

What’s next?

Hot on the heels of COP23 is Macron’s One Planet Summit on December 12th. The summit will showcase the considerable real world climate action we’ve seen in the two years since the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Expect to hear about efforts to align the world of finance with the Paris goals, with initiatives on climate risk disclosure, climate neutrality, development bank reform and more set to be announced. We look forward to coming back full-circle – see you in Paris!