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COP 23: the week so far

Plans to act on gender, forests and finance announced in final week of UN climate conference
COP 23: the week so far

As the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn entered its final week, the Fiji presidency announced an agreement on a Gender Action Plan, highlighting the role of women in climate action.

Frank Bainimarama, the president of COP 23 and prime minister of Fiji, announced that the parties had finalised a plan which ‘recognises the role of women in climate action’.

Nazhat Shameen Khan, chief negotiator for the COP 23 presidency, added that the Gender Action Plan – which is yet to be formally adopted – is about ‘integration of gender into all the work around climate policy – both nationally and internationally.’

Action on forests

Countries and corporations also announced new initiatives to cut emissions from forest use and to establish sustainable forestry management programmes.

The efforts include an Ecuadorean initiative to reduce 15 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in the forest sector and a commitment to deforestation-free commodities from Walmart.

Mars Inc. revealed a new goal to reduce its carbon footprint 27% by 2025 and 67% by 2050 by addressing deforestation throughout its corporate value chain, and Gabon’s National Park Service announced new efforts to combat illegal logging.

‘The forests have this incredible ability to store carbon and we have underinvested in that. Protecting and restoring the forests is absolutely key to achieving the Paris Agreement [as well as] the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).’

Director-general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Companies commit to climate action

On the same day in Bonn, industries said their sector is set to deliver much of the emissions reductions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goal.

‘Industry is taking action on climate change like no other period in history. The transition to the low-carbon economy is inevitable, and business will continue to implement the solutions necessary for fulfilling the Paris Agreement.’

President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

Since 2015, over 600 companies – with a combined revenue of more than $15 trillion – have made over 1,000 commitments to climate action through ‘We Mean Business,’ a global non-profit coalition.

Many are going 100% renewable, implementing science-based targets and collaborating across sectors through the Low Carbon Technology Partnership initiative (LCTPi).

Faster climate action commitment signed

Local and regional leaders from around the world signed the Bonn-Fiji Commitment on Sunday, pledging action to deliver on the Paris Agreement.

Cities are responsible for as much as 70% of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels used for energy and transport. With more than half the global population living in urban centres, this figure expected to approach two-thirds by 2050.

The Bonn-Fiji Commitment contains 19 initiatives that push efforts to advance sustainable urban development.

One of the initiatives is the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. This coalition – of over 7,400 cities from six continents and 121 countries – is working to reduce emissions and make societies and economies resilient to climate change.

Protection for small island states

Similarly, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the UN Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC) and in partnership with the Fijian presidency, launched an initiative to protect people living in small island developing states from the health impacts of climate change.

The vision is that, by 2030, all small island developing states will have health systems that are resilient to climate change.

Climate finance in Africa

Members African civil society and parliament expressed the urgency of climate finance as a prerequisite to ambitious action in African countries.

Roger Nkodo Dang, president of the Pan-African Parliament, said that ‘Africa is the continent that pollutes the least’, yet ‘it is Africa which suffers the effect of climate change’.

In an interview with UN News, he added that developed countries have a duty to provide additional support to Africans for their green development. ‘If you tell us ‘do not cut the wood,’ we say, ‘you bring us electricity,’ he said. ‘It’s not a favour, it’s a compensation.’

Raising finance

The urgent need to raise the finances to meet the funding goals of the Paris Agreement took centre stage on ‘Finance for Climate Day’ on Monday.

Representatives from the finance sector explained that every dollar invested in emissions reductions and climate change adaptation ‘gets double the bang for the buck’ because it also supports the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Click here for more about COP 23, the UN climate conference in Bonn, Germany.

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