The 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be held in Marrakech, Morocco, from 7 to 18 November 2016. The COP20 in Lima was tagged the COP of negotiations of a universal climate change agreement, COP21 in Paris last year was a COP of Agreement while COP 22 in Morocco has been tagged the COP of Implementation.
Taking critical decisions to ensure the implementation of the Paris Agreement is the major endeavour at COP22 in Morocco. Last year, the African Development Bank support contributed significantly to ensuring that Africa’s concerns were addressed in the Paris Agreement. The Bank has also committed to triple its climate change finance to about $5 billion per year and to provide $12 billion on renewable energy investments by 2020. In consistence with the New Deal on Energy for Africa that provides a good entry point for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, and given that COP22 is a key milestone for the implementation of that Agreement, it is important that Africa is fully on board, while ensuring linkages with the Bank’s High Fives.
“To make the Paris Agreement a real-world success story we need more than a historic political agreement, we need practical climate action to ‘decouple GDP from GHG’ – or economic growth from greenhouse gases” – as former UN climate chief Christiana Figurers put it during a lecture at Climate-KIC partner the Grantham Institute.
Fours ways Marrakesh is going to help achieve that.
Going from National to Global Action Plans is very important: In the run-up to Paris, countries submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Now, they are preparing their first climate action plans (NDCs) – dropping the ‘Intended’ from the title – which will be updated every five years and should represent an increase in ambition. This is the often cited ‘ratcheting’ mechanism built into the Paris Agreement. In Marrakech, countries will hope to agree on how the stock-taking exercise should work every five years, and how they can make sure it will indeed ratchet up the level of ambition around the world.
The action plans outline the post-2020 climate actions of each country and contain details such as emission-reduction targets and how governments plan to make those happen. A range of policies, including those addressing the aviation and maritime sectors (which are missing from the Paris Agreement), need to be drawn up and implemented to create what is often called the “enabling environment” for the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Making Measuring Progress Transparent will keep the commitment: Perhaps even more important, are the ways we monitor and verify the amounts of carbon emission reductions reported by countries. There is currently no common methodology to monitor the national commitments, which hinders the transparency of the Paris Agreement’s implementation. Information matters. If countries understand their emission profile they can target the most problematic areas first.
Then, comparability of national action plans open the door to understanding about which policies work best and why, which will lead to the exchange of best practices – resulting in more efficient action globally. The EU is a strong proponent of such a common approach. This year we expect significant progress on working out the details of a harmonised verification process. Marrakech will be a key milestone to ensure we understand our progress towards the common goal of curbing climate change.
Involving the Business Sector is very important: The development of low-carbon technologies, and making better use of existing ones by making them accessible to all, is crucial in the fight against climate change. In Paris, we’ve seen the world’s billionaires making a stand and the Paris Agreement itself have recognized this too: now is the time to invest. Strengthening technology cooperation between countries will promote economic growth and sustainable development. There have been international efforts in this direction already, such as the UNFCCC’s Technology Mechanism and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTC-N), but it desperately needs scaling up.
Innovative, green technology in all sectors of industry should also make their way to the national economies of developing countries – generating higher rates of productivity, and growth throughout the whole value chain. The world needs to step up efficient match-making between the technology needs of countries and the solutions available around the world. What’s absolutely crucial is that we involve the business sector in this, which ultimately produces the goods and technologies we use. Marrakesh should bring clarity to how this process of global technology transfer will be organized from now on.
Empowering Developing Countries to Take Action: Last, but not least it is fundamental that all countries can develop efficient climate change policies, and have the means to implement them. You’ll hear the term “capacity building” a lot in this context. There are huge differences between developing, emerging and developed countries. Capacity building aims to ensure that governments and civil servants in all countries have the skills and knowledge to implement the Paris Agreement through national policies.
The Paris Agreement makes provisions to support this, with the details to be worked out this year. The EU has made this action a priority in its post-COP21 assessment and a number of other initiatives deliver important programmes to support this worldwide. Already, the UN’s CTC-N has been supporting developing countries with the development of specific climate policy programmes, but there is a consensus that this needs to be scaled up massively. But the public sector by itself, no matter how smart their policies are, will not be enough to make the transition to the zero-carbon economy.
Entrepreneurial education, support for an emerging start-up culture and the encouragement of cross-sector action will empower people who want to take action and make a difference. This is something that international innovation networks and partnerships like Climate-KIC already do on a daily basis. In Marrakesh, a lot of time will be spent on trying to broaden the definition of capacity building to make sure everyone can act on climate change, no matter where they are.
In conclusion, we need a wide range of breakthrough innovations to transform how we live, what we consume, and how we do business while creating new economic growth and jobs. We need to change the system, and we need to do it everywhere on the planet.
By Olumide Idowu (Co-Founder, Climate Wednesday; @OlumideIDOWU)