The urgency for climate action is now more paramount than ever.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report, released in early October this year, has rung the alarm bell once again. The moral imperative for deep cuts in carbon emissions as swiftly as possible in the next twelve years has made it increasingly clear we need to implement renewable energy policies immediately.

COP24, the opportunity to ensure States’ commitments to environmental changes

On 3-14 December 2018, the Katowice Conference on Climate Change (COP24) will take place in Poland and will focus on implementing the Paris Agreement by adopting guidelines for governments to meet their commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Governments are required to report regularly on their emissions reduction efforts and present their progress at the annual Conference of the Parties under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030, as indicated in the IPCC Report, will require nothing less than full commitment from all nations.

In the USA, the recently released 4th National Climate Assessment combined with the dire warnings in the October IPCC Report equips climate leaders to take effective and bold action—but without adequate federal level leadership, the odds are daunting. Many nations face similar challenges, and WILPF stands poised to strengthen transnational grassroots allies.

Coming opportunities in 2019 for climate advocacy

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development now becomes more symbolic than we realised. It is much more than just a symbol, however. The 2030 Agenda encompasses four core components: The Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Of these, only the Paris Agreement is legally binding. These components lend mutual support to the overarching framework of the 2030 Agenda, and we are fortunate to have this framework in place. Not only do we have immediate opportunity for climate advocacy in Katowice, but we will also have several more opportunities in 2019, including during the UN General Assembly and High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

The SDGs present unique opportunities for civil society to engage in regional and national policy decision-making. For instance, meeting the targets for SDG 12 on sustainable consumption and production and for SDG 7 on energy will help bring governments into alignment with their commitments to the Paris Agreement. There will be several roundtable discussions on SDGs in Katowice, bringing together a more coherent discussion on SDGs and the environment. I am grateful for the participation of WILPF at COP24 with a delegate from WILPF Italy, Giovanna Pagani, who will attend various sessions and share with us her perspectives on the ground.

There is now a stronger vision for the year 2030. Drawing on the annual SDG reports at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, combined with the more powerful mechanism to hold governments to account through the legally binding Paris Agreement, present multiple opportunities for civil society to engage in the global policy arena and advocate for action on climate change. We look forward to integrating what we learn from COP24 into future activities of the WILPF Environment Working Group.

By Dawn Nelson, WILPF-US & WILPF Environment Working Group