COP23: An important step towards Paris Agreement implementation

For the last two decades, the International Energy Agency has attended the annual UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) negotiations, underscoring the fact that meeting climate goals entails transforming energy systems. 

At COP23, held in Bonn, Germany, the IEA provided support with analysis, data, and policy guidance to countries working to make their commitments under the Paris Agreement – and their respective energy transitions – a reality.

COP23 was a transitional meeting, paving the way towards next year’s COP24 when countries aim to finalize the rulebook supporting full implementation of the Paris Agreement, including their nationally determined contributions (NDCs). COP23 saw key details emerge of next year’s Talanoa Dialogue, which will take stock of collective efforts towards the Paris Agreement’s long-term mitigation goal, and inform countries as they set their next round of NDCs.

The IEA is actively engaged in tracking various underlying indicators of energy transition, through Tracking Clean Energy Progress, World Energy Investment, Energy Efficiency Indicators and key statistics, and will further enhance tracking efforts to support the Talanoa Dialogue.

The IEA hosted 13 events at COP23, and IEA experts spoke in dozens of other forums. A series of key takeaways emerged from these meetings.

Energy remains at the heart of addressing climate change

Transforming the way we use and produce energy remains central to determining our collective success in meeting the climate challenge. Whether discussions revolved around renewable energy, technology innovation, energy efficiency, or energy access, it was clear that accelerating energy transition is a priority for countries around the world.

IEA experts and guest panelists discuss the IEA's Tracking Clean Energy Progress Report at COP23 in the Nordic Pavillion

The energy-climate challenge is global and centrally focussed on real-world implementation

The adoption of the Paris Agreement signalled a global response to the climate challenge, with countries at all levels of economic development committing to take action. Two weeks ago, the IEA launched the Clean Energy Transitions Programme, a multi-year 30 million EUR initiative scaling up engagement with major emerging economies.

The IEA also took the opportunity at COP23 to meet with officials, policymakers and key stakeholders from the growing IEA family. The IEA was present in the pavilions of key Member and Association countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Germany, France, Japan, as well as the EU and Nordic pavilions.

IEA Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol (right) speaks with Xie Zhenhua, China's lead negotiator for the Paris Agreement, on the sidelines of COP23 in Bonn

Climate objectives can and must be aligned with broader goals

The IEA showcased an integrated approach to reaching climate, socioeconomic, and environmental objectives in the recently launched World Energy Outlook 2017 with the Sustainable Development Scenario. Critically, the scenario illustrates that reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with Paris Agreement goals doesn’t need to undermine the achievement of energy access and reduction of air pollution.

Parties at COP23 also adopted a gender action plan, which among other things, aims to advance women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in climate policy, a topic of critical importance since women are at the heart of solutions to increase access to electricity and clean cooking. The IEA is also keen to engage with and support implementation of the gender action plan, as invited to in the COP decision, through the Women in Clean Energy Technology Collaboration Programme.

IEA welcomes the progress of COP23 yet recognizes that where COP ends, much of the actual work begins. The IEA will support our members and partners as they accelerate efforts to implement and achieve NDC actions and targets, and for their longer-term transitions to sustainable energy systems.