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OPINION: COP22 – Climate leaders sustain momentum in Marrakech


Sam Bickersteth and Daphne Amevenu of CDKN provide a round-up of highlights at COP22 in Marrakech, 7-18 November.

COP22 attendees arrived in Marrakech hoping to maintain the momentum of Paris with a “COP of action”. Whilst this was not expected to be a COP like Paris, the Moroccan presidency encouraged us to “rediscover universalism” and work together to deliver a roadmap for implementing the Paris Agreement. However, COP22 found itself in uncharted territory with the unexpected election of Donald Trump as US President. How would the UNFCCC be able to implement an ambitious climate change deal with the leader of the second largest emitter threatening to leave the Paris Agreement? COP22 delegates were forced to regroup and reinforce the message – through a series of high-level events and announcements – that they were committed to the cause and taking the necessary action.

While political heavy weights from developed and developing countries, businesses, non-governmental organisations and civil society were stating their commitment to fighting climate change, negotiators were in the midst of hammering out the all-important details of how to deliver the Paris Agreement. Modest progress was made in Marrakech, and much now rests on the work to be done in 2017 and 2018 and the question of whether it will provide the mechanisms for delivering action quickly and at scale to keep us on a 1.5 degree Celsius pathway.

Government and non-governmental coalitions galvanise climate action

Several exciting initiatives were promoted at COP with much fanfare including the NDC Partnership, which seeks to coordinate the support of developed and developing countries in their work to implement the NDCs and accelerate the work that is already underway. Under the Paris Agreement, NDCs set out each country’s national climate action plans and how countries will contribute to global efforts to limit warming and manage the impacts of climate change. CDKN supported developing countries to prepare their intended NDCs before Paris; we now support NDC implementation with the recently published Quick Start Guide to NDC Implementation and related technical assistance work in developing countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia.

Businesses, government, cities and international non-state actors participated in the 100% Renewable Energy event which was held in partnership by the Moroccan COP22 Presidency and the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF, a group of 48 countries most vulnerable to Climate Change). The event discussed the economic rationale for a transition to 100% renewable energy for both business and countries with experiences shared by a spectrum of stakeholders.

Steve Howard, IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer shared IKEA’s journey to work towards 100% renewable energy by 2020 and the Mayor of Oslo discussed the actions of the city to work towards 100% renewable energy and also the need for government to support progressive cities in their climate action. It was great to see Steve Howard passionately make the economic case for investing in renewable energy for business stating that “sun and wind are common sense energies”. Businesses have great responsibility in helping the world to a low-carbon development plan and leaders like Steve Howard from IKEA must continue to be vocal in the need for this change.

The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action was launched by the High Level Champions: French Ambassador for Climate Negotiations, Laurence Tubiana and Moroccan Minister Delegate to the Ministry of Energy, Mines, Water and Environment, Hakima El Haite. This initiative is designed to set a strong basis for engagement of Party and non-Party stakeholders in climate action through the UNFCC process in the next four years (2017-2020). The initiative emphasises that the ambitions of Paris will only be fulfilled if everyone works together.

The High Level Champions also launched the 2050 Pathways Platform, which aims to support long-term low carbon climate compatible development strategies. The platform will create a space for collective thinking of countries, cities, businesses and all engaged in developing solutions to support low-emissions planning. Already, 22 countries have signed up, including Germany, which published its mid-century plan during COP22. This plan commits to an 80-95% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 with emissions reduction targets for each sector. The platform also has 15 cities signed up via C40 the Cities Climate Leadership Group – and 196 businesses through We Mean Business (a coalition of businesses committed to a low carbon future).

The various coalitions and initiatives announced point towards a future of collaborative working with all key stakeholders from countries to businesses in climate action highlighting the strong need for this to deliver climate action.

Some progress made in negotiations  

Against the backdrop of these high-level events, negotiators were busy negotiating the practicalities of implementing the Paris Agreement at a meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1). CMA1 is the governing body of the Paris Agreement and has opened far earlier than anyone anticipated due to the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement on 4th November: 30 days after 55 countries accounting for over 55% of emissions ratified the agreement.

The Ad hoc working group on the Paris Agreement (APA) is the body tasked with preparing the rule book of how the Paris Agreement will be implemented and how progress will be tracked. With such a quick entry into force (less than a year after the Paris Summit), the work of the APA is far from complete. However, during COP22, further progress was made including agreement on the terms of reference for the Paris Committee on Capacity Building: the work of this body will begin in Bonn in May 2017. The Parties also agreed that the second part of the CMA1’s first session will take place at COP23 – and here, the APA will present a stocktake of its work programme– with the goal that this work programme will be adopted by COP24 in late 2018. This will be a “must” to enable Parties to the Paris Agreement to get on with implementation, once the rules are agreed.

One of the most significant decisions of COP22 is that the Adaptation Fund will serve the Paris Agreement. This was a point of great concern for the poorest and most climate vulnerable countries. The Adaptation Fund has been very successful in awarding funding and is a ‘first mover’ for countries’ direct access to international climate funds. As of 9th November 2016, the Adaptation Fund had cumulatively approved US$ 358 million for projects and programmes. The Adaptation Fund also succeeded in receiving new funding pledges totalling US$ 81 million in Marrakech. The details of how the Adaptation Fund will serve the Paris Agreement is to be agreed by COP24 by CMA1 and the Conference of the meetings of the parties of the Kyoto Protocol (CMP14). The third review of the Adaptation Fund, due to take place in 2017, will feed into this and will include a report on the linkages of the Adaptation Fund with other funds including the Green Climate Fund.

Increasing developing country voices in climate talks

In both negotiations and UNFCCC related bodies, the voice of developing countries remains strong. Ethiopia will play a pivotal role in representing the needs of some of the poorest and most climate vulnerable countries as it assumes the chair of two key developing country groups – the CVF and the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group.

Since August 2016, Ethiopia has held the presidency of the CVF. The CVF met in Marrakech and called for any country with an NDC that does not reflect its fair share to fulfil the temperature goal of the Paris agreement to update it as soon as possible. The Forum’s members also committed to prepare mid-century low carbon development strategies and meet 100% of their domestic energy needs from renewables by 2050. This announcement continues to show the climate leadership of developing countries.

Gebru Jember Endalew from Ethiopia has been appointed as the new chair of the LDC group beginning in 2017, for two years. The LDC group – one of the developing country groups that receives support from CDKN – is a negotiating block of the UNFCC representing 48 nations. It has successfully pushed for the needs of developing countries to be considered in negotiations and reflected in the text of the Paris Agreement.

Alongside Ethiopia’s growing climate leadership, the next COP presidency moves to Fiji, which is also a member of the CVF. Fiji will lead COP23, which is a major opportunity for a small island developing state to progress negotiations in advance of 2018.  

Journey beyond Paris and Marrakech

There is a lot of work ahead to continue to develop the rulebook for implementation of the Paris Agreement. Under Fiji’s leadership for COP23, there will be discussion of the review of the Adaptation Fund and the Standing Committee on Finance. These discussions will shape the future of the financial structure of the Paris Agreement determining the roles to play of the various financial bodies. We hope to see greater commitment for adaptation funding to support developing countries in this area which is a more pressing priority.

The Facilitative Dialogue, taking place in 2018, will be the first stocktake to assess the progress made towards implementing the Paris Agreement and will also inform Parties to the CMA in their preparation to update their NDCs which will be required in 2020. It will be an important moment to determine how much ambition will need to be raised in the 2020 NDC update and also a moment to learn from for the Global Stocktakes scheduled to take place from 2023 and every five years thereafter. The Global Stocktakes will also serve to assess the progress made towards implementing the Paris Agreement and inform the upcoming NDC updates.

Developing countries will continue to play a role in these key processes and CDKN will continue to support them to maintain the momentum of the Paris Agreement. We will support them in implementing NDCs and in enhancing their capability to be influential players in the climate negotiations.

If you enjoyed this analysis, you may also like these blogs from the CDKN Alliance:

A split United Nations climate talks by Jonathan Grant

COP round up – from Paris progress to Trump victory by Mairi Dupar

 

 

 

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