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The agenda for COP23 climate talks in Bonn

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Gareth Lewis

Gareth Lewis

""The Intergovernmental Panel for Clim..."

Ethan Glover

"Believe me, man, I understand what yo..."
Peter Bale

Peter Bale

"Jeffrey, Thanks. Just to be clear, ..."

jeffrey hamilton

"Arron states: "As much as I personall..."

World leaders will convene this week in Bonn, Germany for the Conference of the Parties (COP23), under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to talk about how to tackle climate issues.

Central to the conference is advancing the historic 2015 Paris agreement, in which 195 countries agreed to limit carbon emissions.

The event is organized and chaired by the presidency of Fiji, and between 20,000 and 25,000 people from 197 parties will attend.

On the agenda for COP23

Discussions in Bonn will primarily revolve around codifying the details of the Paris “rulebook,” which is to be finalized at COP24 in 2018 in Poland. These broadly include who does what, by when and with what kind of financial support. Other areas of focus include instituting processes of transparency and accountability in the agreement.

Also up for discussion is a further reduction of greenhouse gas emissions brought on by fossil fuels. COP23 participants will discuss how to reduce emissions effects by 2030 and the EU has pledged to cut them by 40 percent.

Another area of focus is what Wael Hmaidan, director of Climate Action Network, called the “1.5°c talk.” This means limiting global warming to 1.5°c or well below 2°c.

“It is going to be very hard to meet this element, but this is something that this talk is highlighting the importance of – staying below 1.5 – and having everyone understand that beyond the impacts are very scary and we cannot tolerate,” he told WikiTribune.

Another aim is to establish a global stocktake, which is a process for countries to examine and report on their progress every five years from 2020. An accountability measure, it is meant to identify best practices and areas for further improvement.

The Bonn conference will also prioritize the interests of island nations, as they are most at risk of rising sea levels, tropical storms and depleting fish stocks. Fiji, the first ever island to preside over the event, said it will put island-nations at the front of discussions.

This time round, the conference itself will be sustainable. Organizers aim to reduce greenhouse emissions and use renewable energy as much as possible. Use of public transport is encouraged and the food served will be mainly vegetarian.

What happens with the 2015 agreement?

The Paris agreement will feature front and center during COP23 with considerable attention given to Article 6, which seeks to reduce the effect of climate change by enabling societies to be a part of the solution. This includes placing importance on education, training and public awareness on a local and global level.

The right to health” acknowledged in the Paris agreement will also be given special attention with a focus on the least developed countries and small-island nations. The conference will assess current progress and “identify ongoing barriers to stronger action to protect and promote health while addressing climate change,” according to WHO.

Where does America fit in?

Earlier this year, President Donald J. Trump declared his intention for the United States to withdraw from the agreement, igniting global consternation. Though Syria is not signed onto the agreement, the U.S. would be the only country out of 195 signatories to have pulled out of it.

Trump’s insistence on his ‘America First’ agenda has endangered the climate change conversation. He has promised to put coal miners back to work, and has said, on multiple occasions, that global warming is a hoax.  The U.S. has experienced a series of hurricanes this year which some scientists say fits with a forecast of a greater frequency of extreme weather events, as reported by Reuters.

The U.S. will be joining the climate talks in Bonn, but the Trump administration is in the awkward position of negotiating a deal it has walked away from. Washington also cannot formally pull out of the agreement until 2020.

The U.S. withdrawal poses significant environmental challenges because the country is the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide after China. This could mean rising sea levels and melting ice sheets as it’s estimated an additional three billion more tons of carbon dioxide would be released into the atmosphere each year. The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) estimates the expected sea level rise under its very-high emissions modeling scenario (RCP8.5) to be 0.63 meters, or about 2.1 feet, by the year 2100.

Paradoxically, the U.S. exit has energized those countries committed to the Paris agreement, said Hmaidan, of Climate Action. “I think that Trump, if we want to measure the positive and the negative as the net positive on the climate debate, I think he energised the global community.”

He also added that the “beauty of the U.S. is that it’s not just one person, there’s a lot of people who have a say.”

“We see new action coming on non-state level, sub-national level in the U.S., which is great. We are still in coercion, all the work done by cities, businesses, states, government.”

Los Angeles, Boston and New York City have already outlined plans to advance the Paris agreement; and governors from 14 US states have said that they intend to keep the climate progress going.

India, China and the European Union (EU) are leading the battle against climate change now that the United States is pulling out. India has already developed one of the world’s most aggressive plans for installing solar panels and producing clean power. China views climate action as an economic opportunity and aims to create 13 million clean energy jobs by 2020. In 2015, it overtook the United States as the largest market for electric cars. The EU has said it aims to cut its emission substantially and turn Europe into a low-carbon economy by 2050.

Why Fiji?

Fiji is the first small south Pacific island to hold the COP presidency. The island is, however, too small to accommodate the number of people attending and consequently it is being staged in Bonn. The presidency rotates among five UN regional groups and COP23 scheduled for the Asia-Pacific region.

Though the conference won’t be held on the island, the Fijian spirit will be invoked by encouraging participants to engage in the concept of “talanoa,” which means building empathy and engaging in transparency.

Fiji, like other Pacific-island states, is most likely to face climate challenges in the future. Despite being one of the smallest contributors to global carbon emissions, it is highly susceptible to cyclones and floods. Since 1993, Fiji has recorded a 6 millimeter increase in its sea level per year. In 2016, Cyclone Winston ravaged the small island and took the lives of 44 Fijians.

The island’s president, Frank Bainimarama, noted Fiji’s “need for urgency” about climate change when he addressed the opening of the conference in Bonn.

The World Health Organization and Fiji are currently working on a project to record and implement actions in response to a 2015 study that examined the cause and effects of climate change. The study found that rising global temperatures exacerbated illnesses such as Dengue fever and diarrheal diseases.

Sources & References

Community member Micheal Kealan Moore contributed to this piece with information about Fiji.

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Linh is a staff journalist at WikiTribune with a background in the humanities. She covers the Middle East, Asia, conflict and technology. Though based in London, she has freelanced across Asia, the UK and U.S.

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  1. Other

    “The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) estimates the expected sea level rise under its very-high emissions modeling scenario (RCP8.5) to be 0.63 meters, or about 2.1 feet, by the year 2100.”

    Is that number relative to the sea rise without those emissions or total sea rise?

  2. Flagged as bias

    Might I suggest sourcing the statement that Harvey, Irma, and Maria are climate-linked? As much as I personally enjoy sticking it to Trump, some might see this statement as left-leaning bias.

    1. Rewrite

      Good point Aaron, I’ll do that now. Thanks.

      1. Rewrite

        Arron states: “As much as I personally enjoy sticking it to Trump, some might see this statement as left-leaning bias.”

        Where is the objectivity or the neutrality in this statement?
        How can objective analysis emanate from a source that “enjoy sticking it to Trump” ?

        “…some might see this statement as left-leaning bias.”
        Why be concerned, why hide the obvious? You are exhibiting a left-leaning bias!

        Linh: ” Good point Aaron, I’ll do that now. Thanks”…
        Which part do you consider good? Sticking it to Trump? Obfuscating your left-leaning bias?

        Aaron: “Sourcing the statement that Harvey, Irma, and Maria are climate-linked”.
        From Climatology 101 any dit will understand that weather events are highly correlated with climate; however, it appears to me that Aaron is suggesting ………..

        This is silly, it appears that WikiTRIBUNE will more of the same biased output one can expect from NY Time, Japan Times, etcetera.

        For the record, the purpose of my commentary is to determine if I should make a monetary contribution to the nascent WikiTRIBUNE, you have simplified by decision. No, thank you!

        1. Rewrite

          Thanks. Just to be clear, Aaron is a member of the community not a reporter and his comment about the President is not something we would put in a story but it didn’t seem something worth blocking for.
          Linh’s response to him was about making clear in her story what the evidence might be to connect events like the recent spate of hurricanes to scientific forecasts — including from the IPCC — about the frequency of such events. I think she has now done that.
          She, like everyone here, is at pains to report from a neutral point of view.
          Your links to the Cato reports are interesting and valuable thank you. The way we have so far said we intend to approach the issue of Climate Change in our own reporting is to stick as close to possible to the “settled science” view which I understand to be that expressed by the IPCC — though there are those who disagree with it.

  3. Rewrite

    I think adding context to the article will help leaders and be fair to everyone.

    When you mention rising sea levels, please include best estimates of how much scientists expect sea levels to rise – e.g. about 1 meter by 2100.

    Including the consensus damage estimates by climate change economists would also help (roughly a one-time hit of about 3% of world GDP in the year 2100) (source: Nordhaus)

      1. Rewrite

        Thanks Michael, I took into consideration your edits and have published them.

  4. Flagged as bias

    Issue: errors in climate models and the significance of those errors

    The author does not even mention that the predictions concerning climate change are based on models; and that any individual familiar with models knowns that a model is (a) only as good as the assumptions the model is based on and (b) the data it is provided.

    The author states that: “The U.S. will be joining the climate talks in Bonn, but the Trump administration is in the awkward position of negotiating a deal it has walked away from. Washington also cannot formally pull out of the agreement until 2020.”

    First & foremost by US law the US Senate must ratify a treaty, so why state that the “Trump admin is in an awkward position”, he is simply walking away from a non-binding treaty. How is that awkward? The “deal” was made during a different administration and not approved by congress; Trump ran for office on a platform of rejecting the previous administrations actions. How is that awkward?

    Why does the author not look at per capita emissions? Why not emissions per land mass? Or emissions per countries GPD?

    The authors statement: “Fiji, like other Pacific-island states, is most likely to face climate challenges in the future. Despite being one of the smallest contributors to global carbon emissions” is a bit disingenuous; did the author consider the landmass differences or the GDP differences between Fiji & the US, Russia, or China?

    A few paragraphs of interest need to be reviewed in the context of the CATO essay listed below.

    “The difference between the predicted changes and observed is striking, with only one model, the Russian INCM4, appearing realistic. In its latest iteration, its climate sensitivity (the net warming calculated for a doubling of the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide concentration) is 1.4⁰C (2.5⁰F) compared to the average of 3.2⁰C (5.8⁰F) in the family of models used in the National Climate Assessment. In fact, the temperature trajectory the earth is on, along with an expected large-scale shift from coal to gas for electrical generation (already underway in the U.S. and Canada) will keep total human-caused warming to less than 2.0⁰C (3.6⁰F) between 1950 and 2100, which is the goal of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

    “But the situation gets truly horrific as one goes up in the atmosphere. The models predict that there should have been a huge “hot spot” over the entire tropics, which is a bit less than 40% of the globe’s surface. Halfway up through the atmosphere (by pressure), or at 500 hPa, the predicted warming is also twice what is being observed, and further up, the prediction is for seven times more warming than is being observed.”

    What You Won’t Find in the New National Climate Assessment

    Climate Change Isn’t the End of the World

    Global Warming and Climate Change

    Please look carefully at the following:

    Lower-Atmosphere Temperatures Predicted by IPCC Models and Measured by Satellites and Weather Balloons

    SOURCE: Adapted from John R. Christy, Testimony before the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, February 2, 2016.
    NOTE: IPCC = Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Summary & point:

    WikiTRIBUNE should strive for a neutral perspective providing BOTH sides of an issue if it is going to distinguish itself from the mainstream media.

    1. Rewrite

      I don’t think your flag bias is fair. While I respect CATO… it’s not exactly a balanced website. I mean, there’s not a mention of anything relating to “deniers” and you still think this went too far in that direction? It seems neutral to me.

      But the bigger point I want to make is that this article is about COP23. What it’s about, what is being talked about, who is at it, who are the major players, and for an American audience (plus considering recent coverage) how the US is still there despite plans on leaving.

      This isn’t the place for a debate on anthropogenic climate change. That’s not what this is covering. This piece was actually a very impressive statement of facts without the insults at one side or the other of an irrelevant debate. I’d say bravo to Linh Nguyen.

      1. Rewrite

        Please cite your evidence that CATO is “not exactly a balanced website”

        Your reference to the term “deniers” suggests to me that you fail to recognize that the scientists who question the validity of the models are just skeptical scientists, skepticism is (should be) the nature of the profession; for the record I am a skeptical scientist (PhD Arid Land Resource Science; MA, Plant Science). The term “deniers” has a pejorative connotation that I only observe outside of peer reviewed papers; if you do not understand the difference b/t skeptic & denier you need to expand your education.

        The fact remain that the observed data does not support the models predictions; and the reality is that the putative anthropogenic forcing factors that are postulated as the drivers of this current climate change (CC) event remain only as possible explanations for the current cc event.

        If policy is to be a driven by science then all the science perspectives need to be included.

        You state “….of an irrelevant debate”, what pray tell are you referencing as irrelevant?

        Again, how do you decided on a policy if the data is inconclusive?

        I will restate by previous summary:

        WikiTRIBUNE should strive for a neutral perspective providing BOTH sides of an issue if it is going to distinguish itself from the mainstream media.

        Otherwise it is just another (Name your city) Times.

        A great resource for understanding the Nature of Science is Sir Karl Popper, Reality and the Aim of Science.

        1. Rewrite

          Jeffrey, as Ethan pointed out, the article is a summary of COP23 and what’s on the agenda, not a discussion of climate change itself. Thanks for the suggestions and links.

        2. Rewrite

          Believe me, man, I understand what you’re saying. You know, I once put together a resource full of 100+ links that were basically to support my political arguments. You can find what I put together on going against man made global warming here:

          I’m still a skeptic. I don’t get offended at the word “denier” but it is what I expect to see used often today. Hence, my use of it above.

          My only point right now is that there are no “BOTH sides” here. I mean COP23 is just an event about finding solutions to climate change. Whether you think it should exist or if the data they’re using is an accurate representation of reality isn’t the goal. The goal is to tell you about the event. That’s it. The fact that the article remained so neutral is impressive. There’s no reason to inject any side on a debate here. That’s my last word. I encourage you to have a splenderific day.

  5. Hi Bert, it’s simply an editorial decision. But yes, the NY Times piece basically explains why. Thanks.

  6. Did find this NY Times item (not a paper I regulary read): Also, John F. Kennedy was very commonly used, I now recall.

  7. Sincere question: Why are many (most?) references to the US president on WT in the form ‘Donald J. Trump’, as opposed to ‘Donald Trump’ or ‘President Trump’? I did a brief sample of US newspapers and other US-based online sources, and I rarely found the middle initial used. I can’t even recall President Obama’s middle initial at the moment. Middle initial usage was very common for George W. Bush, to distinguish him from his president father George H. W. Bush, I believe. Posted this here because this story is one of the most recent in development that uses ‘Donald J. Trump’.

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