Paul Allen reports from the final day of the COP23 UN climate talks.

Cross-pollinating ideas to fertilise ambition

Paul Allen reports from the final day of the COP23 UN climate talks.

As this year’s COP23 international climate talks finally draw to a close, I would like to offer a brief overview of some of the highs and lows of the past two weeks.

But before we get too deep into the nitty gritty, the first thing to recognise is that climate negotiations can actually be a really hard thing for us to follow. It’s not just the scientific terms such as CO2-equivalent or radiative forcing, there are also a wide range of acronyms like NDC, SDG or even IPCC. Then to top it all off, the Paris Agreement has created its own species of terms such as “Global Stocktake” and “facilitative dialogue”. However, help is at hand: the World Resources Institute’s expert team have assembled an easy guide to what’s what.

So, as I sit here on the train home, thinking back over the past two weeks, one of my key disappointments has been that this COP has had a much lower profile than it deserves in the mainstream media. Especially as it coincided with the alarming revelation that, after having plateaud for three years, global carbon dioxide emissions will rise by 2% this year. Also, although India and China are still moving ahead with existing clean energy policies which is certainly helping, the gap between our collective Paris pledges and what the science demands of us still looms large. Following the potential withdrawal by the US this gap will widen.

Climate Action Tracker estimate that if all other governments fully implement their Paris pledges there would now be average global temperature increase of 3.2°C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. This marks a worrying rise on their 2.8°C pre-Trump estimates from 2016.

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