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Cop22 tests global resolve on climate action

The Jamaa el Fena square is seen in Marrakech, Morocco, the city which is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference 2016 (COP22).
The Jamaa el Fena square is seen in Marrakech, Morocco, the city which is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference 2016 (COP22). Youssef Boudlal/REUTERS

Diplomats from 196 nations are meeting in Marrakesh for the second week of the UN’s 22nd Climate Change Conference, (COP 22). They’re under intense pressure to translate last year’s landmark Paris Agreement into action against a backdrop of record global temperatures and a new hostile US President that’s vowed to pull out of the Paris deal.

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A year after 196 countries adopted the historic Paris agreement on climate change, the fight against global warming now comes to Morocco, a region itself vulnerable to global warming.

The 22nd session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 22), which began on 7 November in Marrakech, is being dubbed the ‘COP of action’, but after the success of Paris, what else is there to achieve ?

Expectations of COP 22

While Cop21 may be a tough act to follow, Cop22 is in fact where all the rules adopted in Paris get applied. Those rules laid out a blueprint for limiting global temperatures to well below 2 degrees and 1.5 degrees beyond that. Yet even with the Paris pledges, the world is still heading for a temperature rise of 2.9 to 3.4 degrees Celsius this century, according to the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=55464#.WCiVi8e8YdU

UNEP argues that countries need to step up their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s where Cop22 comes in.

High commitments

Policy makers in Marrakesh will endeavour to ensure that countries turn their national climate plans into concrete policies.

During Cop21, all parties had to outline exactly how they intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through what’s called nationally intended contributions (INDCs) http://unfccc.int/focus/indc_portal/items/8766.php. Such a procedure normally takes at least two years, countries had only six months. Now the feeling among some is they were rushed into it.

Getting states -- particularly those vulnerable to climate change -- to commit to more ambitious targets will prove challenging.

Finance

So too will finance. This was left unresolved in Paris. The onus on Marrakesh now will be to fast-track ways of providing access to funding for developing countries to help them adapt to climate change.

In Copenhagen in 2009, rich countries pledged to provide them $100 billion a year by 2020. However questions remain about the nature of this funding. Will it be through donations or loans?

And will it be new money or just repackaged development assistance? Some COP 22 participants -- such as the Least Developed Country Group https://ldcclimate.wordpress.com -- fear that countries will dip into their development assistance accounts and just relabel it as climate finance. On the opposite end, rich countries who invest, want to be sure of where their money is going.

Expect to hear more discussion about transparency and monitoring of climate finance during the course of the week.

Coalitions

What you will hear a lot about also are ‘coalitions’: multiple actors from government, civil society and the business world, coming together to demonstrate that Cop22 really does mean action. There won’t be the daily declarations as seen in Paris, but actual details, hopefully.

This might involve an investor from Canada investing in a renewable energy project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where deforestation is a big problem.

One area of interest is the carbon market -- which was also left out of the Paris deal. The Canadian investor could invest in an agroforestry project -- that stocks carbon dioxide -- once the carbon is sold on the market he gets his money back and helps reduce global warming in the process.

Such deals like this would show tangible efforts by parties to keeping the spirit of Cop21 alive. But unless Cop22 makes a link between the Cop process and its impact on people’s daily lives, it may remain a poor imitator, or otherwise overshadowed by Donald Trump’s election.

For more Cop22 coverage, follow Christina on Twitter @vivalid live from Marrakesh, and all this week until Friday 18 November.

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