Paris Agreement: Call for international negotiators to urgently agree on implementation

Fiji's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama. Picture: Picture: FT FILE/SUPPLIED

FIJIAN Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has called on international climate negotiators to urgently agree on implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement.

Speaking to climate negotiators additional COP23 negotiating session in Bangkok, Mr Bainimarama did not mince his words when he stated that Governments were not ready for COP24, or the 24th annual Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – a crucial climate change meeting in Katowice, Poland later this year.

“In three months’ time, we will be in Katowice, and frankly, we are not ready. I don’t think that statement should surprise anyone in this room,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“Our work in COP23 and throughout this year is essential to that goal. It is our responsibility-and I use that term purposely-to agree on implementation guidelines.”

The Implementation Guidelines, referred to by some as the “Paris Rulebook,” are the details that will determine how the Paris Agreement works in practice.

They address how countries will communicate, report, review, and strengthen climate action in line with their capabilities, in a way that is transparent and accountable to the international community.

In 2015, countries agreed that they would be completed by COP24.

However, that deadline is quickly approaching with much work still to do to produce a draft negotiating text that can be reviewed and finalised by ministers.

“Without Implementation Guidelines that everyone can live with, we risk chaos at Katowice and the possibility of yet another delay in the urgent work of combatting climate change,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“We have been talking since Rio, a full quarter-century ago. In that time, nine new nations have been created, and we have experienced a digital revolution. And also in that time, the warming of the earth has accelerated, and the seas have continued to rise.”

The COP 23 president said that in our effort to confront climate change, tens of millions of words have been spoken, and nearly as many promises have been made to the people leaders represented.

“If all the noble intentions of all the good people who have built this process since 1992 could be converted to clean energy, we could resolve the crisis now. But intentions are not actions.”

Mr Bainimarama also called on leaders for more ambition, and not just that but more ambitious action.

“Ambition means total commitment – commitment to persevere and do all that must be done, here and back in your capitals. It means being focussed and energetic,” he said.

“Our main task at COP24 is to agree on a package of decisions that will ensure the full implementation of the Paris Agreement.”

Mr Bainimarama concluded his remarks with words of encouragement, urging the negotiators to rediscover the spirit of leadership, cooperation and compromise that led to the historic Paris Agreement in 2015.

“Work in good faith with each other. Reach out across natural divides. Find common ground. Let us keep our eyes firmly on the common good. And then let us come together to reach consensus. If we do all those things, we will leave Bangkok proud that we have come closer to fulfilling our responsibility.”

Prior to the opening session on Monday, September 3, Mr Bainimarama had also chaired the COP Bureau meeting in his capacity as COP president.

Meetings of the Bureau are convened by the COP President and are usually held on a regular basis during COPs and two or three times between to discuss important matters related to the Conference of Parties.

During its meeting in Bangkok, the Bureau discussed strategy, joint efforts and initiatives to help reach a coherent and balanced draft negotiating text by the end of the session.

On the sidelines of the meeting, the Prime Minister met with the incoming President of COP24 Michal Kurtyka.

Mr Bainimarama also extended his support to the COP24 President designate and said that the COP23 Presidency stands ready to assist in any wat it can.

He also met the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Patricia Espinosa, where the two agreed on the importance of the work ahead.

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