Climate change negotiations are a little like Moroccan tea.
It begins with the spectacle of serving the tea, pouring from a hight to aerate it to create a thin layer of frothy bubbles. After that, there is a longer phase, which requires patience as the tea cools and becomes drinkable.
The same could be said for international climate negotiations that happen at the UN Conference of Parties (COP). Following the excitement generated in the past 12 months in getting the Paris Agreement through to ratification, we are in the tea cooling, patience phase. This was evident at COP22 in Morocco, which took place at the beginning of November.
The Paris Agreement entered into force a few days before the opening of the COP. This meant that the main objective of COP 22 was to lay out a work plan for turning political commitments made in the Paris Agreement into a comprehensive set of rules and mechanisms that enable countries to meet the climate mitigation and adaptation targets they have set themselves.
The main outcome of COP 22 is the Marrakech Action Proclamation, a soft piece renewing the political backing behind the momentum “to combat climate change, as a matter of urgent priority” and linking this commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.
What happened at COP 22?
- The focus of the discussion was the design of a new crediting mechanism and the role of non-market approaches that enables countries to meet Nationally Determined Contributions that have all been created differently. The mechanism by which countries measure progress in national GHG reductions will be key in assessing whether or not we are on track to meet the 2oC target.
- Implementation of Article 6 (International Cooperation Mechanisms) was one of the most pressing issues and was given special attention. Countries gave themselves until 2018 to work out the details in how they will account for emissions reductions, the governance systems they will use, etc.
- The Adaptation Committee began considering how developing country adaptation efforts would be recognised, and how to regularly assess the adequacy and effectiveness of adaptation efforts and support.
- Accounting of public finance flows was discussed and developed countries released a roadmap for mobilizing the much talked-about US$100 billion a year of public finance.
COP 22 was also saw a new set of initiatives launched:
- A new task force under the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition called the High-Level Economic Commission will develop a vision of how the world can use carbon pricing to collectively decarbonize economies, with a report planned for spring 2017.
- The 200 member companies of the Science-Based Targets Initiative called on countries to fully implement their national climate action plans.
- There was activity from the business sector, with 471 companies now committing to climate science based targets.
- The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action was launched with the intention of boosting cooperation between governments, cities, business, investors and citizens to cut emissions rapidly and to help vulnerable nations adapt to climate impacts.
The message to take away from COP 22 in Marrakech is that the details as to how we will achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement are now being worked on at a global, national and industry level. This will take time and require some more patience. We hope that we will be able to drink to the progress made on the road to 2020.
Image by Paul Morris