About the UNFCCC
With 197 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.
2018 Will Be Critical Year for Faster Climate Action
At the November UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn, Germany, countries took important steps to rapidly implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement and non-Party stakeholders made some major action announcements in support of the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. But the dramatic reality of recent extreme weather events and scientific findings that climate change is accelerating and that greenhouse gas emissions are again on the rise mean that climate action must speed up.
That was the key message of UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa when summarizing the outcomes of COP23 at the last SD Talk on Climate Action, Ms. Espinosa said:
“We have not just kept the momentum since Paris, but we have seen an increased support to action from different areas, not only governments. But we continue to see suffering, loss of lives and livelihoods due to extreme weather that underline the urgency of action making us aware that as much as we are doing until now it is not enough.”
The Bonn climate conference became a launch-pad for higher climate ambition after countries agreed on a number of key decisions that range from the design of 2018 “Talanoa” Dialogue to an historic breakthrough in agriculture for reducing emissions from this sector whilst increasing food security. Ms. Espinosa explained the relevance of these and other decisions including the approval of the Gender Action Plan or the launch of a Platform for Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples.
Patricia Espinosa praised the Fijian Presidency of the conference: “We were very lucky to have for the first time in the history of this process Fiji, a small island developing state, presiding over the conference, a country which is particularly vulnerable to climate change. This underlined that when undertaking the different aspects of the negotiations and the Global Climate Action agenda, we need to bear in mind those communities and people whom we need to serve.”
You can watch the full SD Talk here.
The event was moderated by Nick Nuttall, UN Climate Change and COP23 Spokesperson and Simona Costanzo-Sow from the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development.
This SD Talk is the last episode of a Special Series on Climate Action organised by the UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development in partnership with UN Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Watch all the SD Talks on Climate Action on this webpage.
Speaking on the lsubject UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, which is in preparation of COP23, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said:
“I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the incoming Fijian Presidency for its leadership, Germany for its excellent support, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia for its backing and the City of Bonn for its efforts to make the conference a success.”
“We are extremely honoured to be hosting COP23 and are determined to ensure strong and positive outcomes that will advance climate action across the globe. We are also determined to make the conference environmentally-friendly and a place where the atmosphere of positivity permeates throughout the negotiations and the many events planned," she added.
The Chief Negotiator for the COP23 Presidency, Ambassador Nazhat Shemeem Khan, expressed Fiji¹s gratitude for the support and encouragement it has received in the process so far, including from the UNFCCC, the German Government and the current Presidency of the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech (COP22), held in November last year.
“Following our consultations at the May UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, it is clear that the desire to keep up the momentum on the implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement is widespread. Working with our partners, we want to harness this collective enthusiasm to strive for ambitious goals at COP23 and beyond,” she said.
“We are particularly encouraged to see that the concept of 'talanoa' – meaning storytelling and dialogue – has already begun to take root in the negotiations and consultations. We truly believe that this inclusive, respectful and participatory approach will lead to decision making that moves the global climate agenda forward,” she added.
Talanoa is a process of inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue that builds empathy and leads to decision making for the collective good. The name of one of the two main conference zones on the Rhine reflects Fijian culture.
Jochen Flasbarth, State Secretary at the German Federal Environment Ministry, said his country is honored to be hosting or supporting three global conferences which focus on climate change – the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, the G20 Summit and COP23.
“As President of the G20, we are pushing to advance the implementation of the Paris Agreement and focus particularly on the vulnerability of small island developing States. It is our great pleasure to support Fiji, the first ever small island developing state to hold the COP presidency, in its efforts by serving as technical host of COP23. We are pleased to have this opportunity to present the new and innovative concept for a global conference – one conference, two zones. With this concept we are highlighting the importance of climate action by having multiple non-state actors complement the formal negotiations."
Bonn has already attracted a total of around 20 UN entities which link to the issue of sustainability. And it already has experience in hosting major meetings, although not yet one of this size. Bonn’s Mayor Ashok Sridharan said:
"Bonn was the venue of UN Climate Change Conferences in 1999 and 2001, and Bonn is proud to be the venue of another COP. This time, however, the challenge is far bigger: the expected number of participants will be higher than anything Bonn has seen to date. At the same time, it is a challenge: we will do everything to warmly welcome the delegates from all over the world here in Germany's United Nations City.”
“Moreover, the conference was a fine opportunity to demonstrate that the City of Bonn takes the issues of sustainability and climate protection seriously. We intend to reach out to our local citizens and raise awareness for the topics of the conference. And we will involve the local public wherever this is possible. After all, our citizens will have to deal with some restrictions during this time. Our Federal President has recently referred to Bonn as the world capital of sustainability. I am very confident that our city will live up to this reputation," he added.
In order to achieve the overall goal of climate neutrality, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated in connection with the conference will be reduced to the extent possible.
Unavoidable emissions – as those associated with travel, which is responsible for the lion’s share of the overall footprint – will be offset, including through the UN’s Climate Neutral Now Initiative.