26 November 2017
After the Blue Cop
26 November 2017
This year’s two weeks of climate talks, COP23, the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have concluded on 17 November.
Although it took place in Bonn this year, the Climate Conference is chaired this year by Fiji, a Small Island Developing State, with Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the UN’s office in Geneva Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan acting as that country’s Chief Negotiator.
With their maritime areas much larger than land areas, SIDS are also known as Large Ocean States. Consequently the Fiji Government made it a priority to highlight the planetary climate-regulating function of the global ocean, as well as the urgent need to address climate impacts on the ocean: melting in polar regions, sea level rise, warming, coral bleaching, ocean acidification due to elevated CO2 concentrations, change in ocean currents, extreme weather patterns such as the hurricanes that have hit with unprecedented strength island and coastal livelihoods and economies in the last months, are amongst the key ocean climate change impacts.
More than one hundred side events and initiatives addressing the ocean/climate nexus have been organized during this Blue COP, building momentum for ocean action. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been tasked with preparing a Special Report on The Ocean and the Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, which is expected to be released in September 2019, and an Ocean Pathway for the UNFCCC proposed by Fiji was launched on 16 November.
As Minister Inia Seruiratu, Fiji’s High-Level Climate Champion for COP23 said “it should now be clearly recognised that the climate action needed to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement will never be enough if the ocean is not part of that action”.
Climate ocean impacts will affect the future of fishing, with major changes in fish stocks patterns, and numerous governments and stakeholders have highlighted the connection between climate action and SDG14, the Ocean Sustainable Developing Goal. Also present at COP23, the UN Secretary General Special envoy for the Ocean, Ambassador Peter Thomson, highlighted the importance for WTO MC11 to adopt a decision to end harmful fisheries subsidies.
One more reason for MC11 to act responsibly and expeditiously on the elimination of harmful fisheries subsidies.