The Conference of the Parties 23 (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Bonn from 6 to 17 November 2017. This brought together the delegates of every State of the world to advance the negotiations initiated on the implementation of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming.
Short progress from COP to COP
Following COP 21, which resulted in a “historic” climate agreement, COP 22, which took place in Marrakech in 2016, brought some important advances: the modalities for implementing the Paris Agreement should be adopted in 2018 instead of 2020 at COP 24 taking place in Katowice, Poland. Carbon neutrality plans have been presented by a few countries including Canada and France. These states aim to produce fewer greenhouse gases than they can offset (by limiting deforestation, for example).
COP 23, presided over by Fiji Islands, territory affected by rising waters and natural disasters, was more technical than political. Additional funding was provided for the Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund. But the question of financing the fight against global warming in developing countries (100 billion dollars / year) remains a real bone of contention between the richest countries and those developing. The introduction of the “Talanoa Dialogue” at COP 23 aims to improve national energy ambitions in order to stay below 2% of global warming.
The European Union pursues its climate goals
As part of the 2014-2020 programming, the European Union aims, in line with its Europe 2020 Strategy, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% (compared to 1990), a renewable energy share of 20% overall consumption and improved energy efficiency by 20%.
In order to make this a reality, the EU financially supports projects implemented in the different Member States through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which finances projects for the development of renewable and clean energies, and technological innovations for a sustainable economy (e.g. solar farms or a biomass power station) and more energy efficient public buildings and social housing. The European LIFE program finances pilot, innovative, demonstration and information projects that are part of climate change mitigation and adaptation priorities (e.g. reduction of greenhouse gas emissions).
A multilateral consensus to deepen and efforts to intensify
While Donald Trump’s United States has announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement (which is expected to occur no sooner than 2020) and is adopting a changing stance, a coalition of cities, companies and other US actors has nevertheless decided to implement this Agreement and to respect the commitments made. An alliance for the removal of coal was also created at the initiative of Canada and the United Kingdom on the margin of the conference. This initiative is welcome as some industrialized countries still have energy production mainly based on coal, notably Germany and Poland.
China has meanwhile taken the lead in global investments in renewable energy (surpassing the United States) even though these remain limited in its energy production. The way still remains long to contain global warming. Indeed, the States sometimes slow down the ambitions fixed at the world level in their legislation: Spain makes the task difficult to one of its big producers of electricity which would like to leave coal definitively.
Will the European Union take leadership in the fight against global warming? The European Parliament is currently debating how to set more ambitious goals: raising the share of renewable energy to 35% by 2030 and the energy efficiency rate.