The Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) met for the 23rd time at the Bonn Climate Summit in Germany earlier last month. COP has met once a year since 1995 as an international forum to discuss and measure goals related to climate change. COP23 got very little international news coverage amidst recent national news stories in the United States, but it took place from November 6th- 17th to discuss the implementation of the COP21 Paris Agreement of 2015.
World Resources Institute
Each year the Parties to the Convention meet to go over the framework of their goals related to climate change. From the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, to the Copenhagen Accord in 2009, and finally to the Paris Agreement in 2015, international environmental law has evolved over the years. The most recent agreement, the Paris Agreement, which was entered into force in November of 2016 reiterated the necessity of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”
It also emphasized the importance for developed countries to provide financial assistance and resources to developing countries to assist them in their emissions reduction targets. This is agreement is flexible in that it functions on a voluntary basis and allows each individual Party to determine their own target. This use of soft law, or non legally binding framework, comes at the cost that many of the highest emitters are not on track to reach their target and fear no repercussions without an international enforcement mechanism.
The Bonn Climate Summit decided pre-2020 implementation of the Paris Agreement is of the utmost importance considering the consequences of the issue if each target is not met. The Summit wanted to help the dialogue of cooperative approaches and hope that political momentum of the meeting would push national policies to align with nationally determined targets.
So one may ask what renewable energy, in particular solar energy, has to do with the Bonn Climate Summit and the UNFCCC in general? Promotion of renewable energies through incentive programs and government financing will do a lot to help curtail the use of fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Federal, as well as state tax incentives are extremely important in allowing each Party to reach their nationally determined target. While the United States unfortunately backed out of this agreement earlier this year, other industrialized nations can set forth the example of promoting sustainable practices through renewable energy such as solar.