The road to Marrakech

(L-R) Patricia Espinosa, secretary general of UNFCCC, Salaheddine Mezouar, president of COP22 and Hakima El Haite, Morocco’s environment minister (image: COP22).

The road to Marrakech

 

The COP22 climate summit, which will take place in Marrakech, Morocco, between November 7-18, is the first since the historic Paris Accord was reached in December last year. COP22 will be held amidst a wave of positive sentiment thanks to the entry into force of the Agreement today following the ratification by 55 countries accounting for 55% of global emissions, the minimum necessary criteria, in record time. As of today, 97 countries have ratified the accord, including 19 from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Important global agreements on the reduction of greenhouse gasses have added momentum recently. These include the decision in Kigali to eliminate HFC’s, and, earlier this month, to curb emissions from the aviation sector. According to the International Energy Agency’s latest report, renewable energies were the largest source of new installed electricity generation worldwide in 2015. Action in these sectors will be fundamental to achieving the Paris objective of limiting global temperature rises to 2C and even 1.5C.

All hands on deck

Despite all the fanfare at COP22, parties need to get down to work on advancing the effective implementation of the Paris agreement. The success of this COP will depend on the capacity to move forward with preparatory work on the different areas of the Paris Agreement – with clearly defined agendas and ambitious, workable plans within specific timeframes.

Marrakech will also see the first session of the Paris Agreement (CMA1). It should set out the rules that guide the Agreement’s implementation. Given the magnitude of this task, it will be necessary to keep the session open for sufficient time as it takes to develop these rules. However, it’s also critical that countries identify a specific date for the closure of the session, which would ideally be agreed before 2018, allowing enough time to reassure parties of a commitment in time for the effective implementation of the Agreement in 2020. All parties to the convention, including those who are still in the process of ratifying, will be able to participate in this session, ensuring that the process is inclusive.

This same spirit should apply to other areas of COP22’s work. Among those points needing important advances are the process of strengthening national commitments (NDCs), and the definition of the modalities and rules for reporting finance, so as to compile a global stock-take, the first of which will take place in 2018. And for the first time, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage will be evaluated. Though this could be a little premature given the short space of time it has been operating, it’s an opportunity to agree a new date for evaluation and to keep up periodic revision of this important mechanism.

The Paris Agreement gave a balanced focus on mitigation, adaptation and the tools for implementation. Furthermore, it placed a strong emphasis on transparency. It’s important to ensure that this focus continues to be reflected as parties work towards implementation. Jose Sarney Filho, Brazil’s environment minister said yesterday the biggest obstacle the Paris Agreement faces is ensuring countries fulfill their commitments. “We’ve come a long way. I’m sure we won’t suffer any backsliding and we’ll take a small step forward at every conference,” he said, adding: “It’s important to point out that in spite of these actions and proposals, the general situation with regards to climate change has got worse. Today we don’t only have to talk about the reduction of GHGs, but also adaption and the changes that are already happening all over the world.”

It’ll also be important in Marrakech to strengthen the link between mitigation and adaption in finance and national contributions. One of the most important decisions in this regard is the future of the Adaptation Fund, the survival of which depends on new funds.

Pre-2020 Action: Stepping up

Since climate action can’t wait any longer, there needs to be progress on upping ambition before 2020. It’s well understood that this needs to be the subject of dialogue in Marrakech. What’s more, it’s vital to connect the twin aims of capacity-building and finance, two themes that came to the fore in Paris and which are key for all countries to ensure advancement of the Agreement’s objectives.

Finance is a central theme at many events. During the pre-COP, industrialised countries presented a roadmap to fulfil their commitment to ensure the flow of US$100 billion to developing countries to support climate action. This announcement was welcomed by various countries, including the negotiating bloc the Association of Independent Latin American States (AILAC). It will be important that discussions about finance at COP22 focus on the quality of such finance – for example the cost, accessibility and impact, as well as strategic planning and the capacity-building agenda – and not just quantity. That way it that it can generate positive impacts that give an effective answer to the urgent agenda underlined in Paris. Events that take finance into account include the ministerial dialogue on finance, Climate Finance Day 2016 and the meeting of the International Development Finance Club.

On the back of the success of 2015 and the excellent advances this year, COP22 should capitalise on this momentum to outline a clear and ambitious working agenda which allows steady progress towards achieving the objectives of the Paris Accord.

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