Countries fast-tracked the political and practical aims of the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement and accelerated global climate action at the 2016 UN climate change conference that concluded in the early hours of Saturday morning in Marrakech.
The 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP 22, hosted by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, saw nearly 500 heads of state or government and ministers attend. By the end of the two-week climate summit, more than 100 countries, representing over 75 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, had formally joined the Paris Agreement.
On November 15, Marrakech also hosted the first official meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement, its top governing body, following the accord’s early entry into force on November 4, less than a year after it was adopted last December.
The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
The November 8 election of climate denier Donald Trump as president of the United States sent shock waves through the gathering, but it did not deter participants from moving forward in a spirit of determination.
The United States, Canada, Germany and Mexico announced ambitious climate strategies out to 2050, reflecting the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement to achieve climate neutrality and a low-emission world in the second half of this century.
Over 190 governments agreed to the Marrakech Action Proclamation, which sends a strong message of global unity on climate change.
Outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegates, “I have never missed any of the 10 COP meetings during last 10 years. I leave you with the strong hope that we will have the courage, tenacity and wisdom to live up to our responsibility to future generations by protecting our only home: this beautiful planet Earth.”
“I have made climate change a priority since my first days in office,” said Ban. “Over the past 10 years, I have seen great progress in our common journey toward a low-emission, climate resilient future. We have proved the power of multilateral cooperation.”
Ban called the Paris Agreement is “a successful, new model for meeting some of humanity’s greatest challenges.”
A crucial outcome of the Marrakesh meeting was to move forward on writing the rule book, or operational manual, of the Paris Agreement that calls for a significant boost of transparency of action, including for measuring and accounting emissions reductions, the provision of climate finance, and technology development and transfer.
It includes work to design the adaptation communications, the primary vehicle under the Paris Agreement to share individual adaptation efforts and support needs.
Countries pressed forward on this and set a fast track date of 2018 for completion. Countries have already built the foundation for this by peer assessing each other’s actions to cut emissions through a transparent process that began in 2014.
Shortly before the meeting’s end, the 47-nation Climate Vulnerable Forum made a bold commitment to move towards 100 percent renewable energy between 2030 and 2050. Their declaration strengthens the call to limit global temperature rise to as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.
Multi-billion and multi-million dollar packages of support for clean technologies; building capacity to report on climate action plans; and initiatives for boosting water and food security in developing countries were among the many new initiatives launched in Marrakech.
The Global Environment Facility, GEF, a multilateral funding facility, announced the Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency backed by 11 developed country donors providing US$50 million worth of funding.
Countries pledged more than $81 million to the Adaptation Fund, surpassing its target for the year. Countries pledged over $23 million to the Climate Technology Centre and Network, CTCN, which supports developing countries with climate technology development and transfer.
The Green Climate Fund announced the approval of the first two proposals for the formulation of National Adaptation Plans – Liberia for $2.2 million and Nepal for $2.9 million. Another 20 countries are expected to have their proposals approved soon with up to $3 million each. Overall, the GCF is on track to approve $2.5 billion worth of projects.
During COP 22, governments learned that in 2016 more than 30 projects for cutting emissions with technology transfer objectives were approved by the GEF, with $188.7 million in GEF funding and $5.9 billion in co-financing. Businesses, investors, cities and local governments issued new climate change commitments, adding to the thousands announced in the run-up to the Paris climate conference.