EXPERT VIEWS-Despite U.S. lagging, climate action gathers speed, if limited cash

by Thomson Reuters Foundation | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Saturday, 18 November 2017 10:58 GMT

Images from Fiji are displayed at the U.N. climate talks in Bonn, hosted by the government of Fiji. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Megan Rowling

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Talks lay key groundwork to a ramp-up in action to curb climate change - but take little direct action on growing losses to disasters

BONN, Germany, Nov 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - U.N. climate negotiations in Bonn, aimed at laying the groundwork for faster action to curb climate change and deal with its impacts, ended in the early hours of Saturday morning with solid progress on key issues, including preparations for ramping up carbon cuts.

Negotiators also opted to give women, indigenous people and agricultural concerns a bigger role in efforts to fight climate change.

But after a year of rising losses from wild weather around the world, there was limited progress at the gathering - led by Fiji - on two other top concerns of poor nations: finance for climate action and help with growing losses.

Negotiators left still unclear how richer countries will mobilise a promised $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer nations develop cleanly and become more resilient to climate change.

And developed country officials refused to look at innovative taxes or other ways to help poor countries pay for growing losses from climate disasters, offering instead insurance options.

Here are some views from government officials and climate experts on the outcomes of the talks:

JAMIE HENN, STRATEGY AND COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, 350.ORG

"Trump tried to derail these talks by pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement, but COP23, under the Fijian presidency, has put the process firmly back on the tracks bringing into sharp focus the climate urgency the planet is experiencing.

"Now it's all about speed. More ambition will never come from inside the climate talks, it has to come from the streets. Our job is to get out there and demand the fossil-free world that science and justice demand."

JOSE SARNEY FILHO, BRAZIL'S MINISTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT

"We expect that developed countries will heed our call to stay true to the Paris Agreement on financing issues, after some initial resistance in Bonn. A rock-solid commitment to the financing measures agreed in Paris will be vital for developing countries to play their full part in meeting our collective 2030 goals.

"More ambitious collective goals will be needed in the future to place us in a 2 degree towards 1.5 degree (Celsius) trajectory. A bold long-term strategy will be necessary to achieve long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies."

GEBRU JEMBER ENDALEW, CHAIR, LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRIES (LDC) GROUP

"The least developed countries welcome progress that has been made here at COP23, including the adoption of the Gender Action Plan and the Indigenous Peoples' and Local Communities' Platform.

"It is essential that we amplify marginalised voices and recognise the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and indigenous communities around the world.

"The LDC Group thanks Germany, Sweden and Belgium for the contributions to the Adaptation Fund and Least Developed Countries Fund. We hope to see other countries following suit and rapidly accelerating their finance pledges to meet the scale of support needed by developing countries to fill the ever-widening finance gap."

PAULA CABALLERO, GLOBAL DIRECTOR OF CLIMATE PROGRAM, WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE

"The Bonn climate talks put substance over style. Negotiators made steady progress on important details of the Paris Agreement and laid the groundwork for greater acceleration next year.

"An appeal for developed countries to ramp up their climate efforts before 2020 became an unexpectedly prominent topic at the talks. Delegates reached common ground by agreeing to form special stocktaking sessions to review progress towards curbing emissions and delivering on climate finance in the immediate term."

MOHAMED ADOW, INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE LEAD, CHRISTIAN AID

"Everyone knows the Paris Agreement pledges alone are not enough to combat climate change – they only get us to a world of 3 degrees (of warming).

"The ratchet mechanism that made the Paris Agreement not just a static document but a living thing that strengthens itself over time, now has a name: The Talanoa Dialogue. That mechanism has now been switched on."

LAURENCE TUBIANA, CEO, EUROPEAN CLIMATE FOUNDATION

"There really is no time to lose; we have been painfully reminded of the urgency to scale up our collective climate action by the devastating climate impacts across the world this year.

"But the continued commitment to climate ambition in the real economy, for instance by the U.S. non-state actor coalition We Are Still In, has shown that we can overcome the challenges we encounter on this journey".

MANUEL PULGAR-VIDAL, HEAD OF GLOBAL CLIMATE AND ENERGY PROGRAMME, WWF

"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 degree Celsius future."

HARJEET SINGH, LEAD ON CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY, ACTIONAID INTERNATIONAL

"With the talks presided over by Fiji, a small island state, the challenges faced by climate-impacted countries took centre stage. But even though vulnerable communities were in the spotlight, this still hasn't translated into the support that they need. It seems that the world is not yet ready to offer hope to people facing the impacts of climate change."

ANDREW NORTON, DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT

"It is significant that this meeting recognised for the first time the crucial role that women (and) girls as well as local communities and indigenous peoples have in driving solutions to tackling climate change.

"But to meet the urgency facing people on the frontline, particularly in developing countries, these talks needed to deliver more... Donors need to agree a process for indicating how much money they will commit in the future so vulnerable countries can plan the action needed to keep their people safe."

RAIJELI NICOLE, PACIFIC DIRECTOR, OXFAM

"For the most part, rich countries showed up to Bonn empty-handed. Instead, we got a tepid agreement that they'll report back next year on progress towards their $100 billion (a year in climate finance by 2020) promise. President Macron's international climate summit next month in Paris will offer another moment for countries to unveil new financial pledges."

MONICA ARAYA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NIVELA (COSTA RICA)

"Latin America has much to gain in a world powered by renewable energy and resilient to climate impacts. Progress is happening, but some governments are still being pressured by fossil fuel interests to scale up investments in this sector.

"There is an urgent need between now and 2020 for energy, finance and public health ministries, as well as private sectors in Latin America, to switch from a 'more oil and gas' to a 'Let's take the Paris Agreement seriously' mindset."

VITUMBIKO CHINOKO, ADVOCACY COORDINATOR FOR SOUTHERN AFRICA, CARE INTERNATIONAL

"After years of seeing parties at the U.N. climate change talks struggle to agree, CARE welcomes the positive outcome in agriculture. We are particularly pleased that parties will focus on food security and social dynamics and move the agriculture agenda to implementation.

"Countries in southern Africa are already acting, and the COP decision (on agriculture) is a critical opportunity to help scale up approaches that tackle climate change and increase the resilience of food producers and women."

PATRICIA ESPINOSA, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE SECRETARIAT (UNFCCC)

"We know from experience that putting women at the heart of tackling climate change can result in more impactful, equitable and sustainable actions. The Gender Action Plan is designed to do just that.

"It highlights and supports the role women can and do play in building resilience and adapting to the impacts of climate change. It focuses global attention on how we can turn words into deeds."

YEB SAÑO, SOUTHEAST ASIA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GREENPEACE

"The voices from the climate frontlines have spoken in the Pacific COP. But how much have those who are historically most accountable for climate change listened?

"Those least responsible for climate change are suffering the worst impacts and this great injustice must be addressed. Governments and corporations must urgently change their policies and practices to avert climate-related human rights harms."

MAARTEN VAN AALST, DIRECTOR, RED CROSS RED CRESCENT CLIMATE CENTRE

"At this COP, we saw exciting new partnerships to build resilience are emerging between governments, multilaterals, the private sector, civil society and local communities.

"Ministers, CEOs of the biggest investors and insurance companies, but also mayors, Red Cross leaders and local voices, gather around one message: We need to scale up investment in climate resilience, from millions to billions and even trillions of dollars. The deadly and costly toll of the recent disasters shows that we have to do better."

(Reporting by Megan Rowling and Laurie Goering; editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women's rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate)

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