BONN: United Nations climate change conference to prepare a rule book to implement Paris Agreement began here on Monday with India asking for including pre-2020 actions of rich nations in the agenda for discussion. India has also decided to conduct ‘Yoga’ session every evening in the country’s pavilion here to showcase its age-old tradition of sustainable lifestyle.
The mega meet took off amid alarming report of the World Meteorological Organisation’s (WMO) which says the year 2017 is very likely to be one of the three hottest years on record.
The State of the Climate report of the WMO, released on the inaugural day of the Conference (COP23), says the average global temperature from January to September 2017 was approximately 1.1°C above the pre-industrial era. “As a result of a powerful El Nino, 2016 is likely to remain the warmest year on record, with 2017 and 2015 being second and/or third”, it says while noting that 2013-2017 is set to be the warmest five-year period on record.
Delegates make pictures in front of a photo of an island at the COP 23 Fiji UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany on Nov. 6, 2017. (AP Photo)
Though the Paris Agreement is meant for post-2020 climate actions to keep the average global temperature rise within 2 degree Celsius by the end of this century, India’s pitch for discussing pre-2020 actions assumes significance considering the recent ’emission gap’ report of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The report, released last week, said that the national pledges on emission reduction, made by countries from across the globe under the Paris deal, would only bring a third of what is needed to avoid worst impact of climate change.
“India’s demand to put pre-2020 actions on the agenda of the COP23 will hopefully be accepted”, the country’s negotiator said. Under pre-2020 actions, only developed countries – the historical polluters (developed countries) – are mandated to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases. The Paris Agreement, on the other hand, says that all nations should take voluntary climate actions (as they had promised) under this global deal in December 2015.
Delegates and visitors walk inside the German pavilion at the World Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany.
Clearly articulating India’s position, the country’s environment minister Harsh Vardhan said, “India has been ambitious in its climate change actions.”
Speaking after inaugurating India’s pavilion at sidelines of the climate change conference, the minister also noted that India’s per capita emission is only one-third of the global average and shared what all the country has been doing to fulfill its Paris Agreement commitment.
The Conference (COP23) was kicked off with strong and unified calls to walk on the path of the Paris Agreement – especially when the US decision to withdraw from the global deal has already sent a negative signal to the world. Negotiators strongly believe that it would be practically impossible to meet the Paris goal without the US – the biggest historical polluter and the second largest current carbon emitter after China.
“All over the world, huge number of people are suffering. Our job as leaders is to respond to the suffering with all means available to us,” said newly elected COP23 president and Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama. Whilst Fiji has the Presidency of COP23, Germany is providing logistic resources to the island nation in Bonn to hold the key climate conference.
The participating countries’ concerns and need for raising their emission cut ambition got reflected in what the WMO said in its report on global temperature rise.
Referring to warmest years in record, the WMO secretary-general Petteri Taalas, said, “The past three years have been in the top three years in terms of temperature records. This is part of a long term warming trend. We have witnessed extraordinary weather, including temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius in Asia, record-breaking hurricanes in rapid succession in the Caribbean and Atlantic reaching as far as Ireland, devastating monsoon flooding affecting many millions of people and a relentless drought in East Africa.
“Many of these events – and detailed scientific studies will determine exactly how many – bear the tell-tale sign of climate change caused by increased greenhouse gas concentrations from human activities.”