Preparing for COP23 — learning what you can do

UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

An aerial view of the Solomon Islands. Flying over the province’s main town of Gizo, Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was able to observe the effects of deforestation, climate change and natural disasters on the area. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe.

By Nancy Price

Fiji’s vision as President of COP 23, (November 6-17) is to be transparent and inclusive of all, advance the Paris Climate Agreement, and accelerate climate action for vulnerable societies, drawing on its own experience as a small island nation in the Pacific.

Listen to Fiji’s Prime Minister address the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly and read about Fiji’s commitment to addressing climate change and why the role of Fiji and Pacific Island nations at this COP 23 is so crucial. As islands and countries with low lying deltas and coastal areas are so vulnerable to rising sea levels, ocean acidification that is destroying protective reefs, and extreme storms, Fiji will be sure these issues won’t be ignored at COP 23.

Here’s more information on COP 23 and a brief history of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that was adopted in 1992 at the United Nations Rio Earth Summit.

Here is what you can do:

First - Plan to take action:

COP 23 is November 6-17. Afterwards, we will know what’s been negotiated, what concessions may have been made to get the U.S. back in, and where we stand going forward. Remember, many say that we are actually in the midst of a climate breakdown, not just extreme weather events because of warming, etc., but an actual breakdown in the system that has kept the climate pretty stable over the last many decades. But now, the cumulative effects of more CO2 in the atmosphere and warming is leading to actual system breakdown as we enter a “new normal” climate system.

From November 17 to November 26, Congress will be on recess

  • Before then, make an appointment and go with friends to speak about Climate Justice+Women+Peace. Order your Inforgraphic Cards now to leave a few with your Congress person and for tabling. Email Marybeth Gardam at
  • Plan to go to a town meeting or other event and get your Congress person or candidate on record about climate. Is he/she a denier? Does he/she support getting to green energy as fast as we can by 2030? Does he/she support divestment from fossil fuels? What other questions?

After the COP 23 meeting, I’ll be writing a digest of what happened there and what you need to know before attending meetings with your representatives, how to write a letter to the editor, and more.

Second - Listen to the entire September 18, 2017 three-part interview with Naomi Klein on Democracy Now here.

In Part One, Naomi explains what is at stake: In order to get the U.S. back into the Paris Climate Agreement, other countries will broker deals or make concessions that will make the Climate agreement even weaker. Remember, all country pledges are voluntary anyway.

Here’s the shocking truth that Naomi Klein emphasized: At Paris in 2015, they set this target of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius above what it was before humans started burning fossil fuels on an industrial scale. There was a huge fight about that 2-degree target, because we’ve already warmed the planet by 1 degree Celsius, and we are already seeing such catastrophic effects. And so, there was a push to make it more ambitious, to make it 1.5. So, the agreement has some complicated language, making best efforts to meet 1.5, but definitely keeping it below 2 degrees Celsius.

The problem with the agreement is that it’s made up of these nationally determined plans. So every country was able to bring their best efforts to the table, right? And so, the centerpiece of the U.S.'s efforts was Obama's Clean Power Plan. If you added up all of the best efforts, it didn’t lead to that target of 1.5 to 2 degrees. It led to a pathway to twice that level of warming. So, basically, what the world community said was, “We know what we have to do, and we’re willing to do roughly half that.”

Third - Read this brief announcement about implementation of the first Gender Action Plan at COP in recognition of “the importance of the equitable involvement of women in sustainable development and the implementation of climate policies, including the Gender Action Plan.”


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