What we can learn from COP23

During the second day of COP23 in Bonn, which took place from 7 to 17 November, Syria ratified the Paris Climate Agreement. This means that the USA is the only country in the world that has not ratified the Paris Climate Agreement. The Climate Conference in the German city was mostly meant to further go into details and to make practical agreements to ensure realisation of the goals. Nothing spectacular was expected from this COP, but what did it deliver?


Fiji hosted the COP23 in Bonn and initiated the so-called Talanoa dialogue. Talanoa is a traditional word the islanders in Fiji use for an inclusive and transparent dialogue. During a Talanoa dialogue participants exchange ideas, stories and experiences to tackle a problem, such as climate change. Critical observations and finger pointing are contra productive and are not allowed. This process has set the tone for the conference, which had as goal to further discuss the climate goals.


Clean coal?

In 2018 the Talanoa dialogue will be continued, when COP24 will take place in the Polish city Katowice. Next to this dialogue, COP23 resulted in a workgroup on agriculture, a gender action plan, a platform for indigenous people and an alliance to stop with coal. There were also negotiations about setting up rules and regulations to follow up and comply with the Paris Climate Agreement. How this will take shape, will be further discussed at COP24 in Poland. Participants of COP23 were not all positive about the fact that the next climate conference will take place in a country which relies on coal for 80% of its electricity demand and that promotes so-called ‘clean coal’ by distributing black soap in the shape of coal.

The reason that the following COP will take place in Poland next year, is to emphasize the symbolic character of the Polisch mining city Katowice. COP24 should explore the possibilities of a sustainable energy transition. This also includes an action plan that considers workers in the fossil fuels industry. There will be discussions on employment and social benefits.


The world vs. Trump

Before the kick-off of COP23 in Bonn all eyes were focussed on the USA, for participating in a big climate conference for the first time since Trump decided to step out of the Paris Climate Agreement earlier this year. The small US delegation mostly spoke out during the negotiations about loss and damage from climate change and finance. According to Reuters Trump’s decision to step out of the Climate Agreement has no influence on American companies, cities and states that seriously want to work on battling climate change. Furthermore, they started the campaign ‘We Are Still In’, to show that Trump’s decision has nothing to do with their ambitions to stop global warming. An European diplomat mentioned to Reuters that Trump’s decision only stimulated the collaboration between American states.

In conclusion, COP23 was an ‘in between COP’ that supported and continued the philosophy behind the Climate Agreement. Now we look forward to what we can learn from COP24.

Photo: Nigel Tadyanehondo via