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Extreme weather, fresh urgency to accelerate action at COP23
November 11, 2017, 3:42 pm

Youth, NGOs, businesses, financial institutions and civil society are spearheading moves to accelerate action on climate change at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) being held in Bonn, Germany.

The conference, which opened on 6 November and will continue to 17 November, provides an opportunity for world nations to come together and advance the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement and achieve progress on its implementations guidelines.

Held under the Presidency of the Government of Fiji and hosted by the secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the COP23 conference is being held in the City of Bonn on behalf of Fiji.

At COP23, leaders from a range of sectors have come together to announce a new set of initiatives to transition to renewable energy and to show that more ambitious clean energy development can quickly become a bigger part of national climate plans submitted under the Paris Agreement.

“With the price of renewable and storage technologies tumbling, and greater understanding on a cleaner energy mix and more integrated energy planning, the question before decision makers is, why wait?” said Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO, Sustainable Energy for All.

“Our pledge to leave no one behind is a critical component of the Paris Agreement. This means placing energy efficiency first, adopting a laser like focus on ending energy poverty and using the renewable energy revolution to achieve universal access and a bending of the emissions curve.” said Ms. Kyte.

On the occasion of COP23, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a report titled, ‘Untapped Potential for Climate Action: Renewable Energy in Nationally Determined Contributions’. The report notes that the renewable energy components of current climate plans, detailed by nations through their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), lag behind actual deployment trends, national energy targets and the cost-effective potential for accelerated deployment.

Elaborating on the report, the Director-General of IRENA, Adnan Z. Amin, said: “Two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions stem from energy production and use. Our analysis shows that renewables and energy efficiency can together provide over 90 percent of the mitigation needed in the energy system by 2050 to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement.”

“Revising the NDCs gives countries an opportunity to take a fresh look at how to harvest this potential, not only for mitigation, but in light of the multiple socio-economic benefits of renewables, also for adaptation,” said Mr. Amin.

Meanwhile, a strong youth contingent at the conference, supported by the Fijian Presidency of COP23, is pushing for more climate ambition and a stronger role for youth in helping shape climate policies and implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Speaking on the occasion, Climate Ambassador of the Fijian Presidency, Nazhat Shameem Khan, said: “We cannot emphasize enough the increasing vulnerability of young people to the impacts of climate change, notably children. At the same time, children are some of the loudest advocates for climate action. The creativity, the energy and the drive of children and young people can accelerate climate action now to enhance the ambition of the Paris Climate Change agreement.”

Deputy Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, Ovais Sarmad added: “If we are to bring about societal change, a change that is sustainable, a change that is meaningful, that needs to happen at an early stage and cannot happen without education and the engagement of youth and children. Youth have an extremely important role to play and what you are doing here is essential.”

“Climate change affects us, our countries, our food security, our economies and our future. We try to adapt, but we need to do more,” said one of the youth representatives.

On another front, the Paris Agreement had set a significant challenge for governments and the financial community to align all financial flows with a below 2°C-coherent economy and society. In response to this challenge, the Climate Action in Financial Institutions (CAFI), a grouping that currently represents 31 institutions, held an event at COP23 to call on the world’s entire financial community to sign up to a set of key principles for mainstreaming climate action.

The event, co-organized by the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) and Institute for Climate Economics (I4CE), called on business and industry to join them in implementing the five Voluntary Principles for Mainstreaming Climate Action. The five principles are: Commit to Climate Strategies; Manage Climate Risks; Promote Climate Smart Objectives; Improve Climate Performance; and, Account for your Climate Action.

Announcing the launch of a new publically accessible online database, CAFI called on other institutions throughout the financial community to contribute to this database and share their practices by contacting the Secretariat at the website

The database aims to share knowledge and experience through concrete case studies and provides financial institutions and businesses with an overview of how their peers are progressively integrating climate change in their operation, and are contributing to making the Paris Agreement a reality.

“Financial institutions have a key role to play in addressing the challenges of a global low-carbon and resilient development, internally and through relationships with their clients. Governments, multilateral organizations and private investors need to bet on climate change considerations in order to boost economic growth, and by mainstreaming these considerations, financial institutions become a reliable partner that can deliver better, more sustainable, short and long term results,” said the Director of Institutional Funding of CAF, Felix Bergel.

The central goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep the average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees. About one degree of that rise has already happened, underlining the urgency to progress much further and faster with the global clean energy transformation.


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