COP23 and CURes

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is currently taking place in Bonn, Germany, having started November 6th and continuing through November 17th. This is the 23rd annual conference of the parties (COP) and is presided over by the Government of Fiji. However, due to sea-level rise and extreme weather impacts, Fiji’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, determined that COP should not be held at his home country. Since 1993, Fiji has seen a rise in sea level of 0.2 inches (6mm) annually and in 2016, Cyclone Winston, Fiji’s worst recorded natural disaster, caused $1.4 billion in damages.

This COP is closely related to the Paris Agreement, given the United States’ withdrawal and Syria’s recent ratification. The United States is now the only country in the world to have not signed onto the 2015 Agreement. However, the majority of other world governments remain confident that progress can occur without support from the United States federal government.

A method of implementation for the carbon cuts pledged by most countries needs to be agreed upon in Bonn so that they can be finalized in 2018. Special focus is on China and India, as rapidly developing countries, to adapt more climate friendly policies than developed nations previously held. However, these two nations oppose excessive carbon limitations to their growth, as developed nations are the countries primarily responsible for most anthropogenic climate impacts. It is particularly interesting to note the proposed greenhouse gas cuts given a recent study released by US government researchers on the clear link between human activities and climate change. This report includes researchers from NOAA, NASA, and the Department of Energy, among other academic scientists.

The Mediterranean City Climate Change Consortium (MC-4), for which CURes is the Secretariat institution, is present at COP to discuss climate change adaptation. Climate change impacts to Los Angeles and other Mediterranean climate cities may include: increased drought, shorter growing seasons, increased fire and other extreme weather events, the spread of disease, and a fall in economic output. MC-4 will continue to engage with international groups to determine how related climate regions can

Destruction after Cyclone Winston in Fiji – 2016

effectively address global changes. Dr. Cristina Tirado (LMU Environmental Science) is representing CURes and MC-4 at COP to speak about the impacts of climate change on food, health and sustainability. Tirado previously gave a talk as part of LMU’s Environmental Lecture series (password for talk is LMU2017). Additionally, the just released Cities and the Environment Journal issue, curated by CURes staff, focuses on climate change for urban areas in Mediterranean climates.

Given the perception that 2020 marks a turning point for climate change mitigation, the decisions made and conversations held at Bonn are critical. CURes will continue to work to address local and regional climate impacts through research and partnerships.