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Day 4 at COP 23: The negotiations in Bonn help implement the Paris Agreement

The work of a COP—A climate conference operates on many levels — there are negotiations, discussions, presentations, press conferences, and exhibition — all aimed at advancing some aspect of the climate agenda. The negotiations themselves take place in a number of settings, ranging from small meeting rooms that allow countries to discuss the fine points at the working level, to larger plenary settings that involve all countries. The negotiations in Bonn are at the point where progress has been slowly made on the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement — the buzz word is about where all the issues land.

Action before 2020 — It really wasn’t envisioned that the Paris Agreement would enter into force so quickly — in less than a year after it was adopted. It was thought that the agreement would enter into force by 2020. Now, just two years later, 169 countries have joined. But a major area of negotiations has been left in limbo — the pre-2020 action agenda. Today, representatives from developing countries said this item needed to be restored to the agenda, citing the urgency for action before 2020 and the unfinished business of several previous COPs. This included the ratification of the Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol —which still survives, but after five years, has not entered into force.

Assessing the risk from climate change — It is not possible to say which country is suffering the most from climate change, but clearly, some are suffering more than others. According to the Climate Risk Index, released today from the NGO Germanwatch, a number of developing countries have had to endure repeated losses from storms. In 2016, Haiti, Zimbabwe and Fiji were at the top of the list, all slammed by major storms. They were followed by Sri Lanka, Vietnam and India. Taking a longer view, the hardest hit countries from 1997-2016 were Honduras, Haiti, Myanmar, Nicaragua, and the Philippines.

Joshua Wycliffe, Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Local Government, Housing and Environment said, “we live in a world of change. Documents like the index provide us with a path on how we intervene.” He said when Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji, half the population was displaced. “These storms can wipe economies off.

Climate smart farming — Farmers around the world are increasingly finding that their traditional ideas about when to plant and when to harvest are no longer valid. Climate change has altered the landscape and has asked academia for help in dealing with a whole host of new variables. That is why Cornell University developed some new tools for farming in a climate changed world. The new tools include a water deficit calculator, to help farmers plan or periods of low-rain. It also lets farmers know whether they need to invest in costly irrigation systems. There is a tool that allows farmers to plan when to plant cover crops—a few days difference makes a huge difference in yields. And there are tools to help farmers to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy.

The University is also working with farmers in developing countries to improve yields and reduce loses to pests, droughts and pathogens. At present, the forecast is bleak for the total production of 9 out of 10 crops, unless the world employs better farming practices.

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