Since 1980, the world has seen a four-fold increase in major flooding events and a doubling of significant storms, droughts and heat waves due to climate change. Without far-reaching, scaled-up action now, these impacts will likely increase, threatening the lives and livelihoods of women, men and children everywhere and costing billions in lost resources that could be used more productively.
Climate action needs to be at the centre of humanity’s response to the existential threats that climate change and environmental degradation present for development, growth, peace and the well-being of all.
That is why it is urgent to step up both climate policy and climate action by all stakeholders – including governments, regions, cities, businesses and investors, and civil society.
This year presents an important opportunity, particularly for the sovereign states that make up the G7. They can act in three specific ways:
- Participate in the Talanoa Dialogue;
- Agree on the rules of implementation of the Paris Agreement; and,
- Accelerate climate action and financial support to developing countries before 2020.
These three milestones of 2018 are necessary to firm up climate policy to unleash accelerated and concerted action.
The Talanoa Dialogue
The first milestone relates to climate action before 2020. It is an important international conversation to check progress, reaffirm the goals of the Paris Agreement and find solutions for countries to increase their ambition in the next round of their nationally determined contributions, or climate action plans. This conversation is called the Talanoa Dialogue.
In the tradition of the Pacific region, the goal of a ‘talanoa’ is to find solutions for the common good. Throughout 2018, the Talanoa Dialogue will aim to find solutions for the global common good.
It began with a preparatory phase launched at the beginning of the year, and will end with a political phase at the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations’s Framework Convention on Climate Change in December in Katowice, Poland.
The dialogue is structured around three questions:
- Where are we?
- Where do we want to go?
- How do we get there?
The preparatory phase culminated at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn in May, when countries and stakeholders discussed these three questions for the first time. The May Talanoas provided all participants with the opportunity for a solutions-oriented conversation on contributions to the Paris Agreement’s goals. It was the first time that countries and stakeholders could engage directly. The output from these storytelling conversations will feed into the political exchanges in Poland.
The Talanoa Dialogue’s final political phase at COP24 will bring together high-level government officials. Ministers will consider solutions and suggestions from the technical phase with a view to generating political momentum and increasing ambition.
It will be critically important for G7 members to use this opportunity to provide a powerful signal that they lead on climate action and that they intend to raise ambition and boost action across the entire globe.
The rules of the Paris Agreement
The second milestone centres on the urgent need to complete negotiations on the Paris Agreement Work Programme and the rules that are needed to unlock the agreement’s full potential.
At COP23 in Bonn last December, countries agreed to accelerate and complete their work to make the Paris Agreement work fairly and transparently and for its institutions to be fully operational by COP24.
Although the Paris Agreement itself is a complete legal instrument, rules are needed to unlock practical actions and enable everyone to see how it is being implemented by each country.
This is equally important for determining whether the world is on track to achieve the agreement’s goals, including limiting the global temperature increase to 2°C, while pursuing efforts to further limit the increase to 1.5°C.
The rules include a transparency system that applies to all with built-in flexibility for developing countries in view of their capacity. That system needs to provide clarity on action and support with respect to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change impacts. Such impacts include increasingly frequent and severe floods and droughts.
Countries have had in-depth discussions on the rules, which are important so that all positions and ideas are clearly understood. For success at COP24, countries must work with draft negotiating texts as soon as possible.
Without a completed work programme, the tools for monitoring and measuring the daily efforts of implementing climate action will not be available to countries and the Paris Agreement will not be fully operational as anticipated.
This would severely hamper the ability of countries to decisively address climate change in the way that world leaders envisaged in Paris in 2015.
In 2015, the G7 played a key role in generating the ‘spirit of Paris’, which led to the Paris Agreement and provided the world with hope and optimism.
I urge the countries of the G7 to take on a similar role in the lead-up to COP24. The G7 can seize a pivotal leadership role and help the world celebrate success at COP24 in Poland.
Accelerated action before 2020
Strong action now lays the foundation for stronger action later. Strong action now will also increase the chances of attaining the goals of the Paris Agreement, as well as reduce the cost of action in the future.
Accelerating action before 2020 in all aspects of climate change action, including reducing emissions and scaling up climate finance, is critical for stronger action later.
At COP23, countries agreed to take stock of action before 2020, both at COP24 as well as in 2019. This represents a good opportunity for countries to reconfirm progress on pre-2020 ambition.
For G7 members – and for developed countries more broadly – taking stock also represents an opportunity to fulfil their collective pledge of mobilising $100 billion annually by 2020. Many developing countries desperately need this support in order to make their contribution to climate action.
I urge G7 members to unlock the promised and necessary funding to make this contribution possible. The contribution by developing countries will become ever more important in the future. Unlocking the promised funds will help the world reach the goals of the Paris Agreement.
The G7 is a very influential group that can make a huge contribution to stepping up climate action and ensuring that 2018 yields a successful outcome for all. The G7 has the power to raise ambition. The G7 can provide the vision to engender renewed political will. And the G7 has the leadership to ensure tangible progress and action before 2020.
A clear signal from the Charlevoix Summit would provide positive impetus for the climate change process in 2018.
UN Climate Change stands ready to support all efforts by all countries towards shared success at COP24 in Katowice.