Yesterday (Monday, November 7, 2016), the 2016 climate summit (22nd Conference of the Parties–or COP22–to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) officially opened in Marrakesh at 10am Morocco time. With 197 Parties, the UNFCCC has near-universal membership of the world’s countries and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.
COP 21/CMP 11 President Ségolène Royal, French Environment Minister and (with her predecessor Laurent Fabius) President of last year’s Paris conference, opened the event. (See video.) Its focus: advancing the international climate drive of the worldwide Paris climate change agreement adopted last week.
An even hundred countries — the majority of world nations — have now ratified the Paris climate deal. These include the immediately threatened small island nations, as well as industrialized, developed, and developing nations and other national interest groups.
In her opening address, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa demanded “a COP of action” that would deliver concrete results — the details by which the Paris Agreement can be successfully implemented. She also reminded the conferees of the work it now entails for governments:
“Achieving the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement is not a given. We have embarked on an effort to change the course of two centuries of carbon-intense development. The peaking of global emissions is urgent, as is attaining far more climate-resilient societies.”
Espinosa then outlined five key areas for intense concentration at the conference:
- Finance to allow developing countries to green their economies and build resilience. Finance is flowing. It has to reach the level and have the predictability needed to catalyze low-emission and climate-resilient development.
- Nationally determined contributions — national climate action plans — which now need to be integrated into national policies and investment plans.
- Support for adaptation which needs to be given higher priority, and progress on the loss and damage mechanism to safeguard development gains in the most vulnerable communities.
- Capacity-building needs of developing countries in a manner that is both tailored and specific to their needs.
- Fully engaging non-party stakeholders (business, non-government organizations, and citizens from the North and from the South), as they are central to the global action agenda for transformational change.
Delegates from all nations elected Salaheddine Mezouar, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, as the COP22/CMP12 President by acclamation. Mezouar welcomed the national representatives to the “Rose City” of Marrakesh. Tabia, the red Hazou plain mud and water composing the walls, minarets, buildings, gardens, and monuments, dyes the entire cultural capital a salmon pink. COP22 signs and banners flutter everywhere.
Mezouar spoke of his nation’s pride and its continental diligence in hosting the meeting:
“It emphasizes Africa’s desire to take its destiny in hand, to reduce its vulnerability and strengthen its resilience…. Our work here in Marrakesh must reflect our new reality. No politician or citizen, no business manager or investor can doubt that the transformation to a low-emission, resilient society and economy is the singular determination of the community of nations.”
The statement was particularly important in light of some African governments apparently regretting the ambition of emissions targets submitted to date toward the Paris Agreement. Of the 54 members of the Africa Group — an important negotiating bloc — only 15 had ratified the Paris deal as of November 3.
The President also reiterated that the Paris Agreement has not succeeded in reaching the goal of a maximum global average temperature of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius:
“I would like to invite you over the coming eleven days to be more ambitious than ever in your commitments. All over the world, public opinion must perceive change. It has to be a change at all levels, from local projects through to those that cross international borders and it must create genuine win-win partnerships.”
With last year’s President Ségolène Royal, Mezouar then handed out solar lanterns to all the national representatives. Holding up the lights in solidarity, the delegates paid homage to the clean technology transformation that is essential to achieve the Paris goals.
Throughout the day Monday and for the rest of this week, the plenaries for the Conference of the Parties (COP), meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), and Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) convene. Monday afternoon, SBSTA and SBI met in both contact groups and informal consultations. The Marrakesh delegates will host the first meeting of the Paris Agreement’s governing body, known as the CMA, next week. Read the provisional agenda and a Q&A on the legal and procedural issues regarding CMA1 here.
You can view video highlights of the opening here
The latter video was produced by Asheline Appleton and filmed/edited by Herman Njoroge Chege. About three minutes long, it is part of the Earth Negotiations Video daily coverage of the climate change conference. Access all the COP22 proceedings online here.
Says Eliza Northrop, an Associate in the International Climate Action Initiative of the World Resources Institute, this COP22 meeting and next year’s COP23 will give nations an opportunity to take stock of initial progress, decide on rule and processes for the Paris Agreement, and enable the world to use 2018 as “a springboard for countries to enhance their national climate plans [NDCs] in 2020.”
Patricia Espinosa has pointed out that “the international effort to bring the Paris Agreement into force in less than a year — an unexpectedly rapid result — reflects the strong, common political will to shift as quickly as possible towards the low-carbon, resilient economies and societies, which are the only way to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
“Climate action — faster, smarter, bigger, and better — reduces the greenhouse gas emissions which drive climate change and at the same time catalyzes the clean power economies and climate-resilient societies which are the foundation on which the future health, wealth and well-being of all people now depend.”
Says WRI, the timetable is pressing. “The Paris Agreement’s primary goal — to limit global warming to well below 2°C and as close to 1.5°C as possible to prevent dangerous tipping points in the climate system — means that global emissions must peak soon then be driven down very rapidly. Yet greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere and global average temperatures continue rising….”
Consult the COP22 daily program for Monday, 7 November 2016, for detailed coverage of yesterday’s proceedings. Six subproceedings of the UN conference include the working documents, limited distribution (L) documents, and other in-session documents, as well as relevant agenda item information, for each body’s November 2016 session:
Marrakesh Climate Change Conference – November 2016, COP 22
Marrakesh Climate Change Conference – November 2016, CMP 12
Marrakesh Climate Change Conference – November 2016, SBI 45
Marrakesh Climate Change Conference – November 2016, SBSTA 45
Marrakesh Climate Change Conference – November 2016, APA 1-2
Marrakesh Climate Change Conference – November 2016, CMA 1
Documents prepared for each COP22 session (pre-session documents) are available here. Search for documents prepared for previous sessions and for previously adopted decisions on the main document portal.