News Item

​Pacific influence felt at COP 23

News 10 Nov 2017

Fiji Prime Minister Hon. Frank Bainimarama has reminded the world we all sail in the same drua and our duty is to fill its sail with a collective determination to achieve our mission at the 23rd annual Conference of Parties (COP 23) United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNCCC), in Bonn, Germany.

Aimed at agreeing on how to implement commitments under the Paris Agreement signed two years ago, the annual talks have a distinct Pacific feel with PM Bainimarama presiding over the two-week international climate change summit which got underway on November 6.

It is the first time the summit's rotating presidency has been held by a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) – and a Pacific island country.

Fiji is making its influence felt in Germany, having taken on the presidency of COP 23 and the co-chair role along with the government of Sweden at the UN Oceans Summit in June this year, as a direct result of its endangered relationship to the sea.

The island nation is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the unsustainable exploitation of the oceans, and it has felt the impact of unpredictable storms of extreme intensity, such as Tropical Cyclone Winston; sea-level rise, which has caused the Fijian Government to identify some 80 villages for relocation to higher ground; and warming seas, causing changes in fish populations and coral bleaching.

Fiji sees its role is to represent all SIDS, and when formally taking up the presidency last week, PM Bainimarama appealed for a lot more resolve to assist the more vulnerable to adapt to climate change.

Pacific dialogue or talanoa the open exchange of views and constructive debate is being encouraged by the Prime Minister, who has reiterated to summit delegates they need to commit to the most ambitious target - capping global average temperature rise at 1.5 degrees.

Climate change will impact all aspects of people’s lives and the threat to the economy is huge.

Along with world leaders, COP 23 has attracted many business and industry representatives from around the world to reaffirm private sector commitment to global climate goals and set a roadmap for implementation.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) is the designated official focal point for business and industry within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and it coordinates business perspective to the UN climate negotiations.

It says more and more companies are committing to leadership on climate action, and the Paris Agreement provides the long-term certainty needed for companies to plan future sustainable growth.

There is also a growing recognition of the essential role business plays in the global climate process.

While the Paris Agreement aims to hold the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2°C, current government pledges will only contain the increase in global warming to 3°C or higher.

Recognising the looming gap between the objectives set out in the Paris Agreement and the track we are currently on, the UN has affirmed the need for “urgent action”.

ICC lists the four key priorities for business at COP23:

- An official channel for business engagement

The importance of consulting closely with business in the formation, assessment and improvement of countries’ nationally-determined contributions (NDCs) must also be recognised.

Business is central to national climate action plans that will affect domestic and international operations, supply chains, planning and investments.

While business is participating in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the dialogue could be much more effective.

The first priority for business at COP23 is the establishment of a mutually-beneficial interface to include an official and substantive role for the private sector.

- Market-based climate rules

Well-designed market mechanisms can jump-start and support the implementation of NDCs and make the difference in reaching long-term climate goals.

Business is ready and willing to make the necessary investment decisions to help drive the economy towards a low-carbon future.

An enabling policy framework is a prerequisite to major private sector investment decisions.

A necessary first step is establishing a common framework for measuring, reporting and verifying emissions reductions.

Business also recommends developing sectoral baselines, standards and approaches for emission reduction levels, in close cooperation with the relevant private sector stakeholders.

- A commitment to trade-led climate action

There is a key role for trade in designing a policy environment that encourages business to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Removing trade distortions on environmental goods such as wind turbines and solar panels can provide a triple win for economic growth, development and the environment.

There are 46 countries currently engaged in negotiations at the World Trade Organisation to eliminate tariffs on environmental goods.

COP23 Parties should be committed to concluding this deal. Business believes the Paris Agreement should be based on clear rules and procedures that avoid setting up trade barriers and are in line with international trade rules.

- A just transition for the workforce

While governments have committed to the Paris Agreement, very few have acknowledged the impact of global climate goals on the labour market or expressed a commitment to ensure a transition for workers that is as smooth as possible.

All industrial sectors will be affected by the transition to a low-carbon economy and, as is seen in current debates on globalisation, ensuring broad productive employment is essential to maintaining popular and political support for measuring and combating climate change.

It is essential all climate change policy takes into account labour market planning and business has a key role in this process.

COP 23 talks continue this week, with a high-level event on climate action looking at themes of finance, sustainable development goals and resilience and innovation among others before the summit concludes on November 17.

Visit COP23 for more information.

(Picture caption: Members of the Fiji Police Band welcomes the COP23 President and Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama at the Fiji Pavillion. CREDIT Fiji Govt.)