The message from youth

At the ongoing UNFCCC conference in Bonn, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary emphasised the need to take part in this ‘fight of our lives’

The impact of protests by the youth all around the world to demand greater climate action could be clearly seen at the ongoing United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Bonn, Germany.

With many young people in attendance, Patricia Espinosa, the United Nations Climate Change executive secretary, praised the call to action by saying it's an "unmistakable message". She promised that their voices will be heard in the UNFCCC process. She also described the current situation as a "climate emergency" and asked everyone at the conference to take part in the "fight of our lives".

The major objective of the current UNFCCC conference is to consider and decide on certain aspects of the Paris Agreement. This has to be undertaken by its two subsidiary bodies — the Subsidiary Body for Implementation and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice.

The parties to UNFCCC will also work on the implementation of the Katowice Climate Package (KCP) which comprises the decisions taken by them in Katowice, Poland last year regarding the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Another aspect that the conference needs to work on is Article 6 of the Paris Agreement which deals with the cooperative approaches between parties which includes market and non-market mechanisms. This was to be adopted last year as part of the KCP but it did not come to fruition as the negotiations on the subject are complex. The parties are not in agreement on how these mechanisms should be implemented.

Regarding this, Espinosa "urged governments to use the opportunity at this session to find solutions allowing solid rules for carbon markets to finally take shape," according to a UNFCCC press release.

"On the important issue of climate finance, Espinosa said developed countries must be reminded of the obligation to mobilise $100 billion annually in funding for developing countries by 2020 for action on mitigation and adaptation," added the release. Espinosa also mentioned that it was essential to bring on board global investors for assured financial flows in line with the Paris Agreement.

If the goal set by the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is to be achieved, then the world needs to become carbon neutral by 2050 and cut down emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.

This takes much greater prominence since most countries are falling short of the targets enumerated in their Nationally Determined Contributions, according to the Paris Agreement. The world is also witnessing a greater number of extreme weather events like the ongoing heat waves in India which are being increasingly attributed to global warming induced by greenhouse gas emissions. The global heat waves of 2015 and 2016 have also been attributed to global warming.

In such a situation, global leadership is of paramount importance. In a press conference Espinosa highlighted United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres' statement that "climate change is the most important challenge facing humanity" and Pope Francis' comment that climate change is "a brutal act of injustice towards the poor and future generations".

(The views are of Down To Earth)

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