Insights into Editorial: Getting real on climate
The twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12), and the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) were held in Marrakesh, Morocco from 7-18 November 2016.
- About 200 nations attended the conference and adopted the Marrakesh Action Proclamation for Our Climate and Sustainable Development.
- The adaptation of Marrakesh Action Proclamation gives a strong indication to the world on climate action and shift towards a new era of implementation and taking action on climate and sustainable development.
- With the end of the 11-days conference, all participating member nations were committed to work in unity for climate change action under Paris Agreement adopted in November 2015.
Marrakesh Action Proclamation:
Referring to the momentum on climate change worldwide, and in many multilateral fora, the Proclamation said that this momentum was irreversible, being driven not only by governments, but by science, business and global action of all types at all levels.
- The Proclamation stressed on nations having to rapidly build on the post-Paris momentum, and move forward purposefully to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to foster adaptation efforts, thereby benefiting and supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that was adopted at the UN headquarters in New York last year.
- The countries stressed on strengthening cooperation to eradicate poverty, ensure food security and to take strict action to deal with climate change challenges in agriculture.
- Countries also demanded support and agreement of those countries which are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, to enhance their adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability.
- The countries also called for an increase in finance, from the developed to the developing countries both, for climate projects, in order to improve capacity and technology.
- In the Marrakech Proclamation, developed country reaffirmed their $100 billion mobilization goal per year by 2020 to support climate action by developing countries. All countries also called on all non-state actors to join them “for immediate and ambitious action and mobilization, building on their important achievements.”
Last December at the previous Conference, known as COP 21, 196 Parties to the UNFCCC adopted the Paris Agreement. It aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016, in time for COP 22.
The US, India, China and other countries had pledged to curb emissions under the Paris deal by moving to renewable energy sources. But US president-elect Trump has vowed to boost oil, gas and coal and “cancel” the Paris Agreement. Trump has termed climate change a “hoax” propagated by China, the second biggest emitter after the US.
India and the Marrakech Action Plan:
Welcoming the Marrakech Action Proclamation, India said that most of its demands including the issue of providing finance to developing nations to tackle climate change has been incorporated and it will continue to push its agenda as per the Paris agreement. India had pushed for inclusion of sustainable lifestyle with minimum carbon footprint and a clear cut mention of flow of funds in the draft of the political proclamation which was earlier made.
The proclamation also said that nations who are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, encourage the ratification of the Doha Amendment. This point in the proclamation assumes significance especially as India had asked the developed countries to ratify the Doha amendments to the Kyoto Protocol by April next year to raise the ambition of climate actions in the pre-2020 period.
Significance of Marrakesh conference:
The UN conference on climate change held in Marrakech, with an emphasis on raising the commitment of all countries to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, is particularly significant as it provided an opportunity to communicate concerns about the future climate policy of the U.S.
- It would be untenable for the U.S., with a quarter of all cumulative fossil fuel emissions, to renege on its promise to assist vulnerable and developing nations with climate funding, technology transfer and capacity- building under Donald Trump’s presidency.
- The biggest takeaway from Marrakesh, however, is that, unlike in the past, the developing countries are not going to be bogged down by the stingy ways of the industrialised countries.
Marrakech’s successes, and failures, however, go beyond the strong message to the US President-elect. In the Moroccan city, negotiators had to set in motion processes to operationalise the Paris treaty. They just about managed to do that. It was only on the final day of the 12-day meet that the countries agreed to a 2018 deadline for framing rules to operationalise the Paris pact. If things go according to plan, the new climate treaty could come into effect much before the 2020 deadline set in Paris.
Marrakesh had another mandate: To ensure developed countries honour the commitments they had made before the Paris CoP. The money pledged at Marrakesh —about 150 million dollars — is a drop in the ocean given that at the CoPs in 2009 and 2010, rich countries had committed to jointly raise 100 billion dollars a year by 2020. But the developing countries had a minor victory when they were able to insert a clause, in the final decisions, asking for a scaling up of financial resources beyond $ 100 billion dollars, per year, after 2020.
As the Marrakech Action Proclamation issued at the close of the conference emphasises, the world needs all countries to work together to close the gap between their intended reduction of carbon emissions and what needs to be done to keep the rise of the global average temperature well below 2°C in this century. The action plan is definitely a step in the right direction. However, political commitment and resource mobilisation will be crucial to meet targets for mitigation of emissions and adaptation.