UN climate action talks reveal new commitments to clean energy

Solar access critical for top solar panel production.Direct sun needed for peak solar generation.

The COP23 climate conference wound up on November 17 in Bonn, after two weeks of discussions on tackling climate change. Many commitments towards climate action through greater clean energy use were made at the talks .

According to a media statement by France Diplomatie, “significant progress” was made on several issues relating to climate action.

These include a Gender Action Plan that highlights the role of women in climate action, the launch of several new initiatives, and negotiations towards finalised Paris Agreement guidelines. It was also agreed that the Paris Agreement legislation be completed and adopted by COP24 in Poland 2018.

At the conference, UN Secretary-General António Guterres referred to climate change as the “defining threat of our times”. He also said we need to do more on climate-friendly developments and on the strengthening of political leadership.

climate action: The town of Bonn in Germany hosted the COP23 climate conference.

The town of Bonn in Germany hosted the COP23 climate conference.

Talks lead to financial and climate action commitments

Delegates attending the conference also made numerous other commitments and pledges at the talks.

These include:

  • Financial commitments towards insurance for poor and vulnerable people so they can be covered for climate-related risks.
  • Investment commitments to the Clean Energy Transition Programme – an initiative of the International Energy Agency.
  • Pledges by 25 cities to reduce emissions and develop climate-resilient cities by 2050.
  • Corporate commitments towards emissions reductions, including by Mars, Walmart and Microsoft.
  • New ratifications to international agreements, including Syria to the Paris Agreement and eight countries to the Montreal Protocol Kigali Amendments.
  • Agreement by more than 20 countries to join a new coal phase-out alliance.

Delegates agreed to organise several new events, including in relation to the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

The ISA is an alliance of over 120 ‘sunshine’ countries located between the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. The group’s main objective is to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and increase the use of solar power.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced Australia’s intention to join the alliance in July 2017.

Coal phase-out alliance launch

A new initiative known as ‘Powering Past Coal Alliance’ was also launched at the conference. More than 20 countries have joined so far and have agreed to phase out traditional coal power.

Members also agreed to place a moratorium on coal power stations that do not have carbon capture and storage in operation.

Several businesses and non-government alliance partners have agreed to reduce focus on power from coal. Members will also share information and best-practices on phasing out coal in favour of renewable energy.

The Alliance aims to have 50 members by COP24 next year.