Countries accelerated global climate action across a broad range of areas at the two-week 2016 UN climate change conference (COP22) that ended on Friday in Marrakech, Morocco as they fast-tracked the political and practical aims of the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement.
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 also among the many new announcements and initiatives launched.
Meanwhile, governments set a rapid deadline of 2018 to complete the rule book for operationalising the Paris Agreement to ensure confidence, cooperation and its success over the years and decades to come.
Businesses, investors, cities and local governments also issued new climate change commitments, adding to the thousands announced in the run up to the Paris climate conference last year.
For example, a club of subnational governments, the Under2 Coalition, who have committed to reduce their emissions by at least 80 percent by 2020, announced their membership has grown to 165.
The combined GDP of these 165 members is close to $26 trillion – a third of the global economy – and cover a population of around one billion people living in North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of more than 40 vulnerable nations, released a declaration that strengthens the call to limit global temperature rise to as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.
Their Marrakech Vision commits these countries to various ambitious aims, including achieving 100% renewable energy between 2030 and 2050.
Several countries – Canada, Germany, Mexico and the United States – 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 the century.
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said, “The landmark Paris Agreement set the course and the destination for global climate action. Here in Marrakesh, governments underlined that this shift is now urgent, irreversible and unstoppable”.
This new era of implementation and action for climate and for sustainable development was captured in the Marrakech Action Proclamation.
“I would like to pay tribute to the Government of Morocco and the President of the Conference, Mr. Salaheddine Mezouar, for their remarkable success. COP22 has been what it needed to be, a COP of action that has accelerated progress under the Paris Agreement across finance, new initiatives, ambition and solidarity between nations and across Continents,” she said.
Mr. Mezouar, President of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22), said, “The Kingdom of Morocco is fully engaged in the success of this COP and will energetically carry out its role as President. At the outcome of the last 15 days, our vision has been consolidated and we are working to make concrete progress and to carry out breakthrough actions from now until the end of 2017”.
“It will be necessary to respect the commitment of $100 billion dollars from now until 2020. Faced with the magnitude of what is required for dealing with the impacts of climate change, turning billions into trillions is indispensable. 2017 must be the year of large scale projects, of mobilising finance, and accessing financial facilities that will be necessary for adaptation,” he added.
Ms. Espinosa added, “During COP22, the strength, the support for and the robustness of the Paris Agreement was furthered underlined, with nine more ratifications received at the UN in New York and the promise of many more to come. Nations reaffirmed that the agreement is in their national interests and a key catalyst to a better, more prosperous future for their citizens”.
COP22, hosted by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, saw almost 500 Heads of State or Government and Ministers attend. It also witnessed the first meeting of the Paris Agreement’s top governing body following early entry into force of the Paris Agreement on 4 November.
At the close, Fiji was announced as the host of the 2017 UN climate conference, with Germany assisting the Pacific island nation by holding it in Bonn.
Key Outcomes and Initiatives
A crucial outcome of the Marrakesh climate conference was to move forward on writing the rule book, or operational manual, of the Paris Agreement.
The agreement 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 also includes work to design the adaptation communications, which is 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.
At COP22, seven developing countries presented updates and opened themselves to examination by their peers on how they are moving to a low carbon economy.
This fits into delivering a system for monitoring, verifying and reporting actions and opens the door to greater ambition under their climate action plans, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency
During COP22, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), a multilateral funding arm, announced a Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency backed by 11 developed country donors providing $50 million-worth of funding.
Implementation of climate action plans also received a boost from the launch of the NDC Partnership – a coalition of developing and developed countries and international institutions working together to ensure countries receive the technical and financial support they need to speedily meet their climate and sustainable development goals.
Progress by Governments
Governments made progress across key areas of climate action, including climate finance, adaptation, capacity building, technology and gender-responsiveness. This is an overview:
- 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, which supports developing countries with climate technology development and transfer. As the implementation arm of the Technology Mechanism, the CTCN is a key institution to enable nations realise their commitments under the Paris Agreement.
- The Green Climate Fund (GCF) 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.
The Adaptation of African Agriculture initiative, which includes 27 participating countries, showcased how water, soil, climate risk management, funding of small farmers and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are being addressed with an overall aim of advancing adaptation.
Loss and Damage
A new five-year framework under the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM) will deal with impacts that are not addressed through planned adaptation, including displacement, migration and human mobility and comprehensive risk management.
In another show of accelerated climate action, countries operationalised the Paris Agreement’s Paris Committee on Capacity Building. It will help build capacity for climate action in developing countries. The members have been elected and the committee will take up its work in May 2017.
During COP22, governments learned that in 2016 over 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.
Fifteen years after the first decision on women and gender under the UNFCCC at COP7 in Marrakech, governments took another important step towards achieving their goals on gender balance and gender-responsive climate policy by agreeing an extended work programme that includes civil society, businesses and others.
COP22 took first steps in making the local communities and indigenous peoples platform operational which was established last year in Paris. This marks a new era of addressing the concerns and needs of indigenous peoples in the climate process. Once operational the platform will allow for an exchange of experiences and sharing of best practices on mitigation and adaptation and ultimately lead to more climate actions.
Others Initiatives Launched
- UNEP launched a new global initiative, The Global Peatlands Initiative, which aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and save thousands of lives by protecting peatlands, the world’s largest terrestrial organic soil carbon stock.
- The initiative will mobilise governments, international organisations and academia in a targeted effort to protect peatlands, which contain almost 100 times more carbon than tropical forests.
- The Solar Impulse Foundation launched the World Alliance for Clean Technologies as a legacy to the first ever solar flight around the world.
Its goal is to federate the main actors in the field of clean technologies to create synergies, give advice to governments, and promote profitable solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental and health challenges.
- The first ever private adaptation and resilience investment vehicle, the Marrakech Investment Committee for Adaptation Fund is a $500 million fund launched in partnership with The Lightsmith Group, based in the United States, BeyA Capital, based in Africa, and the Global Environment Facility.
- Over the next four years, the MENA Climate Action Plan aims to nearly double the portion of World Bank financing dedicated to climate action, taking it to around $1.5 billion per year by 2020.
Further impressive announcements were made by cities and sub-national governments to investors and business as part of the Global Climate Action spearheaded by Climate ChampionsLaurence Tubiana and Hakima El Haité.
“Through our mandate as Champions, we have enhanced the participation of non-state actors, encouraging a range of initiatives, both individual and cooperative. The shift to a low-carbon future and a resilient civilisation is something that is irreversible,” said Climate Champion Laurence Tubiana.
The High-Level Climate Champions launched the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action to provide a strong roadmap for how the UNFCCC process will catalyse and support climate action by Parties and non-Party stakeholders in the period 2017 to 2020.
Announcements linked to GCA events at COP22 include:
- 19 African Capital Markets Authorities and Exchanges, accounting for 26 African countries, have signed and endorsed the Marrakech Pledge for Fostering Green Capital Markets in Africa.
- The European Union Commission launched the European Fund for Sustainable Development to encourage investment in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood, strengthen partnerships, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The plan involves:
- Value of up to EUR4.1 billion, triggering regional public and private investment of up to EUR44 billion to 2020.
- Technical assistance to help local authorities and companies to develop bankable projects and to improve regulatory environments in partner countries.
- Improvement of the general business environment by supporting reforms in economic governance.on
Global Climate Action
- The number of companies making climate commitments through the We Mean Business coalition has more than doubled since COP21.
- We Mean Business announced that in total, 471 companies with over $8 trillion in market capitalisation have undertaken well over a thousand ambitious commitments to climate action.
- These companies represent every sector and geography globally.
- The Science Based Targets initiative continues to see tremendous momentum since Paris. To date, almost 200 companies have joined the initiative, and in the past year, growth has been at a rate of more than two new companies per week.
- At COP22, the Indian company Dalmia Cement and Helvetia insurance group committed to use 100% renewable power across their operations and join RE100; the global, collaborative initiative with more than 80 of the world’s most influential companies.
- Swiss Re committed to double its energy productivity and join EP100, a global campaign that works with companies to maximise the economic benefits of every unit of energy it consumes.
- A new private-sector led initiative, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), was announced. REBA builds connections between corporate electricity demand and renewable energy supply.
- Cities, towns and regions are making big impacts in implementing their climate commitments by acting locally and partnering globally.
- A new assessment tool presented during the Resilience Showcase will allow standardised qualitative reporting of adaptation commitments to the Global Covenant of Mayors.
- The Government of Indonesia announced it is implementing a moratorium on clearing super high-carbon, intact peatland. The action builds on Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s announcement at last year’s Forest Action Day in Paris, to end new and review existing peat concessions.
- Colombia has announced plans to close the forest frontier as a key component of a post-conflict future. Efforts include focusing development on non-forest lands, implementing strong tenure reform, and placing very large areas of forest under indigenous peoples’ control.
- A new partnership between FAO and Google has created Collect Earth, an open-source tool that provides access to large collections of free, high-resolution satellite imagery and cloud computing.
- The Water for Africa initiative, established by the Kingdom of Morocco and supported by the African Development Bank was launched at COP22, aiming to render justice to Africa through the adoption of a specific action plan that will mobilise different international political, financial and institutional partners.
- The three alliances for basins, megacities and businesses, created at COP21, which today represent more than 450 organisations worldwide, signed a common commitment to mobilise jointly their partners, identify and disseminate good practices and support the development of new projects.
- The Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) is supporting an additional 40 countries to realise the financial benefits and CO2 benefits of improved vehicle fuel economy.
- Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme now has 173 certified airports worldwide, including 26 carbon-neutral airports – 36% of air passengers now travel through an Airport Carbon Accredited airport.
- The MobiliseYourCity initiative secured EUR35 million in funding over the last 12 months and launched development of Sustainable Urban Mobility plans in Morocco and Cameroon.
- The Kingdom of Morocco has announced its Blue Belt Initiative aimed at building the resilience of coastal communities and promoting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in keeping with SDG14 expectations.
- FAO, World Bank and the African Development Bank announced the African Package for Climate-Resilient Ocean Economies, an ambitious package of technical and financial assistance to support ocean economies in Africa and build greater resilience to climate change in coastal areas.
- COP22 Ocean Action partners released the Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate: 2016 to 2021, which provides a vision for action on oceans and climate in the next five years, addressing six oceans.
- Launch of the Adaptation for African Agriculture initiative aims to build the resilience of farmers in Africa by promoting sustainable soil management, better water management and risk management linked with tailored capacity development, policies and funding mechanisms.
- Launch of The Global Framework on Water Scarcity supports countries to integrate climate change and sustainable water use into agricultural sectors policies and cross-sectoral dialogue.
- 130 mayors from cities across the world signed the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP), which calls for sustainable food systems that foster the accessibility of healthy food for urban citizens, biodiversity protection and food waste reduction.
Momentum for Change at COP22
The UNFCCC secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative hosted a series of special events at COP22 from 12 to 17 November. These events celebrated the 2016 Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities with inspiring videos, photography, roundtable discussions, an exhibition space and an evening award ceremony.
The Momentum for Change Lighthouse Activities are said to be some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change – these events celebrated these solutions.