During the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 from 6 to 17 November 2017 in Bonn the participating countries concluded numerous agreements. KfW experts assess whether they go far enough.
We're not giving up!
I am delighted that a clear message has come out of the conference: the time for scepticism is over, it is now time to come together and act! The conference provided us with the chance to learn about lots of new proposals and solutions that will help to speed up the implementation of the agreements from Paris. At this year's meeting of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC) – which KfW hosted to coincide with the COP 23 – we were able to ascertain that the goal of mobilising USD 100 billion from industrial countries alone for climate protection and climate change adaptation each year from 2020 onwards is well within our grasp.
KfW is founding member of the International Development Finance Club ( IDFC). Since 2011, 23 national and regional FIs have been cooperating in this alliance. Agence Française de Développement (AFD) is currently chairing the organisation.
Our consortium of 23 development banks, who hold over USD 3,000 billion in assets, is forging full steam ahead with our goal to put climate finance at the heart of everything we do. However, we are also aware that all major industrial countries, developing countries and emerging economies will have to pull together when it comes to solving the problem of climate change. The fact that this is not yet the case was the fly in the ointment of this conference for me.
A small step forwards
Nobody was expecting anything spectacular to come out of the Climate Change Conference in Bonn. After all, the agenda concentrated mainly on technical issues concerning the execution of the Paris Agreement. For instance, participants in Bonn did some important groundwork for the rules on monitoring the national emissions commitments, which are due to be approved at next year's climate conference in Poland. Another positive point to highlight is that the path has been cleared for the continuation of financial support for climate change adaptation in developing countries post-2020. However, in light of the fact that global greenhouse gas emissions are set to reach a new high in 2017, I would have liked to have seen more political impetus for an ambitious approach to climate protection. The Climate Change Conference demonstrated that we currently lack driving forces and pioneers in this area.
Adaptation needs more attention and financing
This Climate Change Conference focused more on climate change adaptation than any other conference before it. At a number of events, Fiji's government and those of other countries that are under particular threat from climate change delivered their messages loud and clear: climate change hits poor people especially hard. KfW has also been driving the issue of adaptation forward. One of our events concentrated on rising sea levels and the impact they have on infrastructure and coast-dwelling populations, while another focused on the protection and recovery of ecosystems for supporting adaptation to climate change. Our first measure with the Green Climate Fund, which we finalised during the COP, is a programme for improving urban infrastructure, such as cyclone protection shelters and coastal roads in Bangladesh. As a whole, however, this COP also showed that we still have a lot to do in the field of financing for adaptation measures.
National climate protection plans are being taken seriously
This year's conference demonstrated just how important the Nationally Determined Contributions are to the implementation of the Paris climate accord. A number of events dealt with possible approaches to promoting and implementing them. Poorer countries presented the progress they had made, while also underlining that they need additional financing for their work. At the COP, KfW showed that we are able to promote national reform programmes with long-term and reliable financing. One pioneering approach here is our policy-based loans, which are supporting the implementation of individual reform steps in our partner countries.
Nevertheless, I felt that the Bonn conference did not pay enough attention to the fact that climate protection plans do not just generate costs, they are also an opportunity for investment. We see the implementation of reform agendas and the refinement of climate protection plans as the key tools here, which also offer an incentive and investment security for private investors.
We need a generation of environmental entrepreneurs
Many parts of the past few weeks have been positive for me. For example, I was able to talk to a lot of people who are searching for and already working on new solutions to climate change and climate change adaptation. During the conference, an award was presented to a project for rewetting bogs in Russia, which KfW implemented on behalf of the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. This is a good example of what I am talking about: the amount of carbon dioxide stored in Russia's bogs is incredible. This project supports the storage of huge quantities of CO2, the stabilisation of water resources and the simultaneous protection of ecosystems. Overall, however, the conference lacked an atmosphere for change. Nobody was saying "we also see climate change as an opportunity to do things differently and better." Over the next few years, KfW can still play an important role in this field to make sure that politicians' desire for change will lead to a generation of environmental entrepreneurs.
Published on KfW Stories: Wednesday, 23 November 2017
Last updated: Tuesday, 30 April 2019