Author: Adam Fischer (Page 1 of 2)

Day 5 Recap

We’re halfway through COP23 and we’ll soon pass the baton to our classmates attending during week two. Friday was an exciting last day for us, capping off an incredibly rewarding week. This morning, two of us had the pleasure of chatting with Senator Jeff Merkley (OR), who asked about Duke’s commitment to climate action and sustainability. He was encouraged to hear about the University’s plans for carbon neutrality and its commitment to upholding the Paris Agreement goals. We then attended a talk by Al Gore — and had front-row seats! It was an inspiring and lively talk, and a great way to kick off our last day.

Later on, students attended panels featuring corporate leaders from Mars, Wal-Mart, and Microsoft, as well as U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (MD) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI). Students then had the rare opportunity to meet with a member of the U.S. negotiating delegation, offering unique insight into the diplomatic process and dynamics.  Their final updates are included below. Check back next week for updates from week two!

“The will to change is itself a renewable resource.” — Former Vice President Al Gore

Rachel and Adam meeting with U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (OR)

Former Vice President Al Gore addresses a packed room at COP23

Adam, Rachel, Galen, and Tasfia take the stage after hearing from Al Gore

U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (MD) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) discuss the economic case for climate policy in the U.S. Climate Action Zone

Danielle provides a rundown of her initial thoughts on the negotiating process here.

Rachel: Today was a busy day full of great and inspiring speakers. I had the incredible opportunity to hear Al Gore speak about the challenges that climate change presents and the reasons for optimism. One of the reasons for optimism relates to new technologies that businesses are developing.

One of these technologies was highlighted during a talk with Microsoft. The company is teaming up with the nonprofit startup WattTime to create software that automatically detects the precise carbon emissions caused by using or generating electricity at any place in real-time. Utilities in Europe are using this software which will allow both consumers and operators to adjust their behavior and operations to reduce emissions with a lower cost. For example, with this software it will be possible to compare renewable energy projects across a country to determine which projects have the biggest carbon-reduction impact. It is exciting to see where this technology and others will take us!

Sanjeev: As today was my last day at the COP, I really wanted to connect with my client, Climate Analytics, before I had to head back to the US. Because I didn’t have access to the negotiations zone, I had been unable to attend any of my client’s team meetings. What this basically meant was that the only time I had met my contact at Climate Analytics, Olivia, was on the first day of the COP when I was still figuring things out. Now that I had attended meetings for a week, my head was teeming with questions for her. Luckily for me, the side event I ended up going to in the morning featured Olivia as one of the panelists. The event itself – focused on loss and damage in the Pacific – was incredibly interesting, particularly because there was an individual from Tuvalu on the panel, who gave a very thoughtful and personalized presentation of Tuvalu’s vulnerability to climate change. But I really enjoyed my conversation with Olivia after the event.

Talking to her gave me some very interesting insights on how NGOs are involved in the negotiations. Specifically, Climate Analytics advises the LDC and AOSIS groups and its members are often part of the country party, meaning that they can be a part of the negotiations, and sometimes even speak on behalf of the country. I also realized that Olivia had recently done some work on climate change-induced displacement, including righting a paper for the German Development Institute (DIE) on the issue at the UNFCCC. For me this was fascinating because of my interest in the topic area and we had a fascinating conversation about some of the challenges and complexities of the issue. I’ve had a very good and enriching experience at the COP, and I think my conversation with Olivia was a great way to finish things off on my last day here.

Tasfia: The first week of COP 23 was a wild ride – from heated negotiations to thoughtful side events to insightful one-on-one meetings with delegates and environmental leaders. I am leaving Bonn with clearer career goals and with better knowledge of the optimal goals of both developed and developing countries. I plan to write more on these issues as I reflect on my time at the COP, and will continue to closely monitor the talks in the news and through classmates. The experience was incredibly rewarding and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to represent the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and serve on the delegation of the International Center for Climate Change and Development (

Day 4 Recap

It was another busy day here in Bonn at COP23. This morning, several students attended the kickoff of the U.S. Climate Action Center, the unofficial pavilion displaying American commitment to tackling climate change. The tent was organized by groups and initiatives including We Are Still In, Climate Mayors, and the U.S. Climate Alliance, along with many others. Hundreds of speakers and participants representing states, cities, the private sector, universities, and faith communities will spend the next week highlighting the many ways in which subnational U.S. actors are pushing the envelope on climate action.

The kickoff included a diverse panel of speakers, including James Brainard (Mayor of Carmel, Indiana), David Phillips (VP for Energy and Sustainability, University of California), Bishop Marc Andrus (The Episcopal Church), Jeff Moe (Global Director for Product Advocacy, Ingersoll Rand), and others. It was an exciting and informative conversation that explored the many ways in which U.S. communities are working together to uphold the Paris Agreement goals.

Check out student updates from today’s events below, and follow us over the next eight days for continued coverage of COP23 and the U.S. Climate Action Center.

“It’s the right thing to do from a business perspective. It’s the right thing to do from a social perspective. It’s the right thing to do from an environmental perspective. And that’s why we’re still in.” — Jeff Moe, Global Director for Product Advocacy, Ingersoll Rand

“Great countries care about their commitment when they sign an agreement. If we want to be a great country, we need to focus on this issue and put all our efforts towards it.”  — James Brainard, Mayor of Carmel, Indiana

“We should take a moment to relish in being rebels. Forget what’s happening in DC and look at what’s happening here today … We are not only in today, but we have always been in.” — Ricardo Lara, State Senator, California

“America first does not mean America alone.” — Lionel Johnson, Mayor of St. Gabriel, Louisiana

Speakers at the U.S. Climate Action Center kickoff event.

Rachel:  Today was spent at the U.S. Climate Action Pavilion for their kickoff events. The events highlighted how the structure and purpose of the Paris Agreement and the United States government are related. They both rely on distributed leadership and the power of these groups to drive the success of the overall mission.

This event also highlighted how climate change should not be a partisan issue. Everyone should want to drink clean water, breathe clean air, leave the planet better off for their children, and confront the issue in a way that can create jobs and allow for economic competitiveness. I appreciated this point and was inspired to hear about the leadership being taken up all across the country in both blue and red states.

Inside the U.S. Climate Action Zone

Galen: Being in the Business & Environment concentration at the Nicholas School, I was particularly enthused when the Senior Manager from Coca Cola’s Office of Sustainability asked to grab coffee. During the conversation, I referenced a matrix from Influence Map that has been shown in a few of my classes this semester, indicating how strongly companies support or oppose climate policies (see below). He had coincidentally gotten an email just this morning with this exact chart and pulled it up on his phone. Coke fell in the bottom right quadrant – indicating that it strongly supports climate policy; however, its political activity on the issue does not reflect this level of concern. We discussed the company’s barriers to being more politically engaged surrounding climate politics. He said that it’s not in their companies culture to be vocal about politics, especially in comparison to European companies like Unilever & IKEA who do not have to worry about it as much. However, being able to communicate their support effectively is something Coca Cola definitely wants to improve. It was particularly rewarding being able to speak confidently to private sector interests; something I wouldn’t have been able to do prior to Duke.

Source: Influencemap

Danielle: Today things got a little heated in the Article 6 discussions. A misunderstanding about the process for generating the next iteration of a draft working document nearly led to a complete breakdown in the conversation. Some Parties felt that the working group’s co-chairs changed the process today from what had been previously agreed upon, which sparked a fairly heated debate about the best way for the group to move forward in their work program and nearly led to some Parties refusing to move forward at all. This episode highlighted for me the difficulty of decision-making in a consensus-based process with nearly 200 participating countries. Getting that many countries with different views to agree on anything, even something as seemingly simple as a procedural matter, is a feat of cooperation and trust that is sometimes underplayed in the media’s discussion of the UNFCCC process. It just goes to show how truly remarkable it really was that Parties were able to make the Paris Agreement happen at all.

Adam, Danielle, and Rachel at the U.S. Climate Action Center

Sanjeev: I was a little more experimental with the side events I attended today. I’d largely covered events on loss and damage focusing on climate change-induced displacement, both out of interest but also because my client, Climate Analytics, wanted me to cover them. But I had a little more free time today so ended up only going to one event on displacement. I went to one more broadly on loss and damage, one on adaptation and then ended up walking in to the last part of an event in the US Climate Action Center, which had Native American leaders speaking. It was good to attend some other events but that also made me realize how much displacement is definitely my main area of interest.

Tasfia: Loss and damage is among the main focuses of the climate talks this year. One of the options that has been discussed heavily this week in terms of potential solutions is climate risk insurance. According to some experts, climate insurance can be adapted to the needs of specific countries to potentially play one part of an integrated response to loss and damage. However, climate insurance is not without controversy. There are concerns over whether the implementation of climate insurance programs give private insurers market power over vulnerable farmers. I have amassed quite a catalogue of resources on loss and damage over this week, and intend to learn more about potential financial mechanisms to address loss and damage.

Sam: The fourth day of the COP coincided with the opening day of the American “We Are Still In” pavilion. The area was less than crowded, and general knowledge of the space had not yet spread, but it was still refreshing to have an American environmental perspective at the COP. The after lunch panel discussed continued American climate involvement from both a business and public office perspective, generating renewed optimism in the previously absently American sphere.

Day 3 Recap

Three days down in Bonn! We had another full and fulfilling day at COP23. Students spent the day attending panels, receptions, and negotiating sessions. The Duke delegation also had the chance to meet one-on-one with high-level officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the International Emissions Trading Association, offering unique insight into experts’ views on the negotiations.

Tomorrow kicks off the unofficial U.S. pavilion, which is located outside the accredited COP zones. Coalitions such as We Are Still In and We Mean Business are leading efforts to represent U.S. subnational, nongovernmental, private sector initiatives in Bonn. Check out today’s updates below and tune in tomorrow for updates from the U.S. pavilion!

Sanjeev: Before coming to this COP, I would have told you that climate change-induced displacement was an issue very few people at the COP gave serious consideration to. I had tried to look up events at previous COPs on the topic before coming here but had hardly found anything. And my conversation today with someone from UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – also confirmed my initial conclusions. She confirmed that three years ago, there would probably be just one side event on climate change-induced displacement at COPs. That has changed. This year there are 17 side events on the topic, four of which I attended today. And there couldn’t have been more diverse participation on the panels. In one we had two individuals from Bangladesh recounting their personal experiences, a representative from the Platform for Disaster Displacement, a representative from the Norwegian Refugee Council, and someone from Oxfam. The second one was composed entirely of representatives from UN agencies, ranging all the way from UNHCR and IOM to UN Women and the ILO. In all ten, agencies, plus someone from the UNFCCC secretariat, spoke at the events.

The next one couldn’t have been more different. There were representatives from two very small NGOs in India and Cameroon on the panel with another representative from UNHCR. And the last one was composed largely of people from the health field, discussing the nexus between climate change, migration and health. All I can say is that things have changed a lot in the space of three years. Climate change-induced displacement is definitively on the agenda now.

Danielle: Today was a slower day for Article 6 negotiations with only one afternoon session. That meant that I finally had time to explore the Bonn Zone and all its pavilions, exhibitions, and side events. Many countries set up elaborate pavilions with informational displays, technology demonstrations, and space to mix and mingle with other climate professionals. Country pavilions often try to capture the flavor of the country’s culture, which makes for some beautiful and impressive displays. My personal favorite? The Nordic Pavilion, which features real dried fish as lanterns– a new sustainable lighting trend? Well, perhaps not.

Nordic Fish Lantern


Tasfia: Transparency is a focal point of the COP this year, as it deserves to be. This was made apparent through the events I attended (or didn’t attend) today. I noticed three different aspects of transparency that are crucial to the successful implementation of the framework.

  1. Transparency between nations in negotiations: I met with a national delegate who shared that there has been a lack of progress in his sector for several years because of lack of open conversations (Talanoa anyone?) between and within blocs. If nations were more transparent about their optimal individual and shared goals, they could work backwards to compromise on mechanisms.
  2. Transparency in finances: In a one-on-one meeting with a leader in the international climate policy field, I learned about concrete examples of how lack of transparency in grant funding has led to corruption. Strong institutional frameworks in the funding process can restrain this corruption to ensure finances are going where they’re needed most.
  3. Transparency with the media and non-party actors: I was excited to attend the SBI/SBSTA negotiations on loss and damage within the Warsaw International Mechanism today. However, after the event began, Kuwait forced the secretariat to kick out all NGOs and media groups. The COP has been stressing the importance of involving non-party actors in the negotiations process. Whether this has been the case is up for debate. I cannot imagine how excluding these groups, including research institutes and universities, from observing the parties is advantageous. I hope to see these groups gain more access to meetings over the coming weeks, or gain insight into why their exclusion is beneficial.

Sam: I opened the third day of COP 23 with a seminar on land degradation led by the vice-chair of the IPCC. The talk focused on breaking the sub-Saharan African cycle of land degradation and migration by utilizing knowledge transfer. Following this was a meeting with USDA senior policy analyst Mark Manis, who discussed the role agriculture played in past COPs as well as today. This helped provide intriguing insight into the U.S. negotiating perspective on the global topic of agriculture.

Galen: The Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, created in 2013 at COP19, was the first time Loss and Damage language made it into the final UNFCCC. A topic that has come up numerous times in the Loss and Damage side events is that the Warsaw Impact Mechanism needs to be fleshed out at this COP. At the end of the day, I was thrilled to see that there was a session happening titled SBI/SBSTA informal consultation on the report of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. Upon seeing this, I raced to catch a bus from the Bonn Zone to the Bula Zone. As an observer, I took one of seats in the back that surrounds the negotiating tables. It was particularly exciting to see that the woman I am assisting from Climate Analytics was sitting at the table, representing the country of Timor Leste. In an unfortunate turn of events, Kuwait objected to having observers in the room. While Canada tried to defend us being there, the Secretariat ruled that these sessions are open to observers unless a Party objects. It was not up for negotiation. Alas, all of the observers, including myself, were asked to leave.

Rachel: This morning I went to a panel on how non-state actors can aid in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The panel included speakers from the Turkish government, Sweden, and Germany. Afterwards, I spoke to the speaker from Sweden about how the country has been able to implement its bold renewable energy goals and how these actions can be implemented elsewhere.

In the afternoon, I met with Mark Manis, a Senior Policy Advisor and Negotiator for the USDA. He talked about how agriculture affects countries NDC’s and climate commitments. He also highlighted how difficult the negotiations process can be. If a country delegation doesn’t want to discuss an issue, it can be tabled for the entire COP.

Day 2 Recap

We’re just wrapping up another great day in Bonn, filled with back-to-back events, panels, and negotiating sessions. Students found their rhythm at the COP and adjusted to the sprawling conference zones (minus a few hiccups traveling between the Bonn and Bula Zones, with an occasional/accidental detour to the airport).

Midway through the day, we learned that Syria announced its intent to sign the Paris Agreement. With that announcement, every single country has either signed or ratified the Agreement; if the United States follows through with its plans to withdraw, it will be the sole nation unaffiliated with the landmark pact. It will be interesting to watch what role the United States plays (or doesn’t play) moving forward as negotiations ramp up. Stay tuned for updates! In the meantime, here are our takeaways from day two:

Duke’s week one crew at COP23.

Sam: Today I attended the IUCN delegation’s meeting prior to the COP events, and was able to sit in on the team’s strategizing session for upcoming events. This gave me an interesting look at the coordination that takes place in preparation for an organization’s events. Following this, I attended the beginning of the opening APA plenary, and then a seminar on ecosystem services (the APA is the body/process charged with overseeing the Paris Agreement implementation). Although the plenary did not deliver anything terribly unexpected, the opportunity to hear the opening statements from each negotiating block helped set the landscape of the negotiations.

Sanjeev: I have very mixed emotions after the last side event that I attended that I attended today. Focusing on climate changed induced displacement and non-economic aspects of loss and damage, the side event had a panel of five speakers ranging from a reverend from Tuvalu, researchers from India and Nepal, a representative from the World Council of Churches and someone who worked very closely with the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage. Starting with a short documentary showing the impacts of climate change in the small pacific island of Tuvalu. The reverend gave a very emotional presentation on the direness of the situation in Tuvalu, saying that they do not want to relocate to another country. “Relocation to us means our literal death as people… [If we relocate] we will lose our identity, our sovereignty.” This was followed by other presentations showing just how widely climate-induced displacement was affecting vulnerable populations in different parts of the world, and one of the panelists called out the international community for failing to take action on the issue for decades. 

Many people in the crowd – including me – were visibly angry and frustrated after the presentations. The panelists had touched on very important issues and because they had been completely unfiltered about their views on the issue and given a very honest opinion on things, it hit everyone hard. But at the same time, we could feel the passion and honest desire of the panelists to try and do something good. They were all very deeply invested in the issue – sometimes for many different reasons – and their energy and drive also came across as very inspirational. I am still angry and frustrated, but that emotion is only making me more invested in the issue.

Galen: I had a jam-packed day, starting with Climate Analytics’ team meeting. This was my first glimpse at the inner workings at my client organization. I then spent the rest of the day taking notes at 3 different events focused on Loss and Damage and Climate Risk Insurance. This allowed me to see the perspective on Loss and Damage from numerous perspectives: that of citizens from vulnerable nations, the private sector, researchers, and NGOs.

Rachel: Today was a whirlwind of topics and events. This morning a few of us met with Brian Flannery from Resources for the Future. Brian had been attending the negotiations for years and was a great resource. He discussed how the business community in the United States and around the world has interacted with and helped shape the climate negotiations over the years. He also talked about the oil and gas industry and how many in that industry had advocated for a nationwide carbon tax. This was not something I was aware of so it was interesting to debate and hear a different perspective.

Later in the day I attended sessions on how to design sustainable cities and a panel discussion of climate adaptation efforts around the world. It’s been fun getting to sample such a wide variety of topics in just two days.

Danielle: Day two of the COP saw the start of discussion on more substantive issues in the Article 6 negotiating meetings. Whereas yesterday was almost solely devoted to process, today Parties agreed to move forward with a work plan to develop a document that includes the views of all Parties through an iterative process of discussion and amendment. After four hours of debate and discussion, Parties had made measurable progress in the discussion of the first of the three key provisions of Article 6 for which the group is tasked with developing guidance. Parties continue to disagree on the details of any draft future guidance, but for now they seem to have at least agreed to a common structure for discussion moving forward.

Tasfia: To experience a different side of the convention, I spent much of the second day of COP 23 attending events organized by research institutes and exploring information booths by NGOs. I also met with the delegation to a vulnerable coastal least developed nation and sat in on their internal delegation meeting.

I noticed that many of the NGOs and research institutes focused on the same issues that least developed nations identified as most important. These issues included loss and damage, climate risk financing, and slow onset effects of climate change. Unlike the established fields of adaptation and mitigation, these issues are still largely evolving and being negotiated. Developing nations need support in creating and implementing frameworks that address these challenges, and it appears that many NGOs are ready to help – both by supporting capacity themselves and by pressuring developed nations to engage.

I am curious to see where negotiations on these topics will go over the next two weeks. Will details on these issues be fleshed out for the 2018 rulebook? Will they eventually be included in the upcoming five-year-plan of the Warsaw International Mechanism? Will there be a separate mechanism to address loss and damage, or will the issue be an agenda item in other meetings? I plan to closely track these topics in the negotiations and see what progress is made.

Day 1 Recap

It’s been a long (but exciting!) first day of COP23. We arrived at the U.N. campus early this morning to register and grab our badges before setting off to explore the COP’s two main accredited areas: the Bula and Bonn Zones. The Bula Zone is home to the formal negotiations proceedings, while the Bonn Zone includes all side events, exhibits, NGO booths, and country delegation pavilions. Students bounced between the two and quickly acclimated to the enormity of the conference. They watched a lively opening ceremony, featuring music and dance by Fijian performers; attended negotiations aimed at hammering out details of the Paris Agreement; observed panels led by policy experts; and wrapped up the evening with a kickoff reception that filled the halls of the Bonn Zone. Check out their updates and blog posts below — and keep checking back over the next two weeks for daily recaps!

Source: UNFCCC

SamMy first day at the COP involved meeting up with my client, IUCN for an event on ecosystem based adaptation. The presentation focused on how to present ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) approaches in a quantifiable way that will attract investors and community members. Addressing community priorities was also addressed by demonstrating that you can eat EbA through a variety of agriculture based techniques. This community based approach was also evident in my clients second event on protected areas. It is motivating to see organizations recognize the importance of local engagement, and I look forward to see more bottom-up based projects throughout the COP.

SanjeevMy first day at COP23 definitely signaled one thing to me – the importance given to civil society participation in the COP. President of the COP, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, made it a point to mention in his opening address that he would take time out from the actual negotiations – leaving someone else from the Fijian delegation to moderate the negotiations – to come attend the civil society events at the Bonn Zone, the section of the COP dedicated to civil society engagement. And even though it was just the first day of the COP with people still trickling in, there were a bunch of very interesting civil society events happening in the Bonn Zone. Some of the major countries had set up very intricate looking pavilions. I was particularly intrigued by the Indian pavilion – it displayed India’s recent initiatives and emphasis on renewable energy but also focused on some of India’s more typical soft power tools, a focus on its rich tradition and culture.

I also attended a really interesting side event on the intersection between climate policy and development policy. One of the more contested issues in the side event was about the adverse effects on certain SDG indicators. One of the panelists presented a study about how climate change mitigation policy can have adverse effects, particularly on distributional issues like food security and energy access. It was really interesting to see reactions from the crowd, many of whom pushed back saying that adverse effects on the very same aspects were probably much worse if one took no action at all. The panelists then had to clarify that the reason for the study was not to support claims from developing countries that they should not undertake mitigation strategies. Instead the purpose was to suggest that governments needed to pursue more holistic climate policies which took into consideration possible adverse effects in developmental areas.

Galen: When telling friends, family, and professors about my plans to attend COP23, the most common response was a concern as to what my experience would be as a US citizen now that our administration has announced its intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. After the first day, my impression from the side events and conversations is that the international community seems to have an admirable sense of humor regarding our President’s out of touch view on climate change. I had lunch with a man from Fiji’s UNDP office who jokingly remarked, “At least if the US delegates, like Rex Tillerson, decide to come they have a lot of experience at these types of negotiations…” he took a dramatic pause, “lobbying for the fossil fuel industry.” At the Renewables Working Together: Staying Below 1.5oC with Renewable Energy event hosted by the WWF, the man representing the biomass industry started his presentation by saying, “Is Donald Trump in the room? No? Ok, then I’ll skip the part about how climate change is real and go right to how we need to address this urgent issue.”

Rachel: This morning I attended the opening ceremony of COP23 in which the president of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama took over as the new head of the conference. He emphasized the need to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, in order to protect the most vulnerable nations like the small island states. He also emphasized the need for subnational action and the importance of bottom up approaches on climate change. This message was very inspiring to me as someone interested in the actions of cities and states in lieu of federal action in the U.S. Many of these actions will be highlighted in the coming days as part of the U.S. Climate Action Pavilion.

DaniDay one of COP 23 is in the books, and from start to finish the conversations today revolved around the need for enhanced ambition heading into next year’s Facilitative Dialogue. The President of the COP, Fijian Prime Minister Bainimarama, set the tone in the morning with an opening statement that focused on the stricter of the Paris Agreement’s two aspirational temperature targets: the goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. The theme continued throughout the day in negotiations and side events, including in the working group on Article 6, where I will be spending most of my time in the coming week. The Article 6 working group is tasked with making progress on the implementation of the Paris Agreement’s provisions on emissions trading. With little concrete progress made thus far, the task is daunting but Parties sounded optimistic in today’s negotiations, and I look forward to seeing the work plan progress as the week continues.

Tasfia: I was unsure of what to expect entering COP 23, with it being a procedural COP with no immediate deadlines. Throughout the day, however, the pace varied greatly. While many of the sessions were procedural, observers were also introduced to some of the underlying goals and tensions that will likely dominate the remainder of the convention.

Based on the rhetoric of the opening ceremony, COP leadership seemed to be pushing four main takeaways:

  1. It is crucial for the UNFCCC to engage the public and non-governmental organizations to ensure a successful framework.
  2. Actions by sub-national actors are growing increasingly important. These actors, such as the Global Covenant of Mayors and the We Are Still In group, are critical to meeting global emissions targets.
  3. COP leaders are aiming to ramp up organization and open dialogue in order to ensure a successful path to the 2018 Talanoa Discussion (previously known as the Facilitative Discussion).
  4. There is a stronger focus on vulnerable and small-island states and the need to limit warming to 1.5°C. With Fiji’s position as the first small-island developing nation to hold the COP presidency, there is a growing focus on the existential threat of climate change to the most vulnerable nations.

Although nations all seemed committed to working together to ensure a productive COP, there were tensions in the plenaries from the start. For example, many nations were dissatisfied with the lack of negotiations on pre-2020 commitments on the agenda. I plan to closely follow developments on this issue. As the Ecuadorian delegation aptly put it, “The impacts of climate change will not wait until 2020.”

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