Special COP23: halfway update from Bonn climate talks

UNFCCC COP23 talks, Bonn, November 6th 2017

The first week of talks at COP23 passed in a relatively calm mood with delegates smoothly entering into major issues. A traditional Fijian canoe stands in the hall to welcome State representatives ad observers  and remind them that is a “Pacific COP”.

Already during the opening ceremony, some country Parties stated their priorities for the Conference. Almost all among developed and developing countries stressed the importance to make progress on the design and the rules of the so-called “Talanoa Dialogue”, the facilitative dialogue to be held in 2018 among Parties to take stock of collective progress towards the Paris Agreement’s long-term goals. However, for the developed countries,  priorities include also the issue of loss and damage,  the Adaptation Fund’s provisions under the Paris Agreement and the eligibility criteria for international climate funding.

By recalling their country’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the US delegation took the opportunity to stress the intent to continue engagement in progressing the different elements of the Paris Agreement.

In this occasion new COP items were proposed to be included in the agenda. In particular, the proposal  from the Like-minded Group of Developing Countries (LMDCs) supported by India and China on the acceleration of implementation of pre-2020 commitments and actions, and increasing pre-2020 ambition generated a large discussion. After a couple of days of uncertainty and the spectrum of a crisis of trust threatened by developing countries, consultations started also on this issue.

In this phase, talks proceed mainly in the form of informal consultations and contact groups with co-chairs and facilitators providing informal notes and non-paper documents outlining possible headings and sub-headings designed to capture agreement on future textual discussion to be forwarded to the High-level segment next week. Parties, therefore offered their  preliminary views on such documents and if needed undertook bilateral consultations. Under the APA agenda items, all informal notes were considered as acceptable starting points with the exception of the one on further guidance on mitigation. On this topic the first week of works brought no substantial progress with country primarily drawing their “red lines”, either on contents and on how to proceed. Informal consultations are therefore planned to continue.

There were signs that old frustrations are ready to come out as differentiation, or bifurcation, were mentioned on several APA informal consultations starting from mitigation but also in relation to transparency and global stocktake. On the other side, bridging proposal seemed to have progressed in loss and damage, bringing parties closer to a common language, even though the EU and Australia refused to discuss about finance.

Among the good news, there is the announcement of Syria that, following Nicaragua last month, on the second day (November 7th) announced that they will sign up to the Paris Agreement, actually leaving the US alone outside the Paris Agreement if their withdrawal process will be brought to conclusion.


(Main source of the article is the IISD’s COP23 Earth Negotiations Bulletin).

(Image: UNFCCC COP23 talks, November 6th, 2017. Credit: UN climatechange on Flickr).