Nations Take Forward Global Climate Action at 2016 UN Climate Conference

The need to fast-track and make the Paris Agreement on climate change irreversible was reinforced at the Conference of Parties COP22 on climate change in Marrakech, Morocco, reports Ogechi Agu-Amadi

Countries accelerated global climate action across a broad range of areas at the 2016 UN climate change conference as they fast-tracked the political and practical aims of the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Announcements linked to GCA events at COP 22 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.

According to statements from the forum’s secretariat, “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. COP 22 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 (COP 22), 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 fifteen 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 mobilizing finance, and accessing financial facilities that will be necessary for adaptation,” he added.

Ms. Espinosa added, “During COP 22, 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.”

COP 22, 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…
Rule Book
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.
Multilateral Assessment…

At COP 22, 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 COP 22, 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.

NDC Partnership…
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:

Climate finance…
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 realize 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

Adaptation…
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.

Capacity building…
In another show of accelerated climate action, countries operationalized 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.

Technology…
During COP 22, 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.
 
Gender…
Fifteen years after the first decision on women and gender under the UNFCCC at COP 7 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.

Indigenous Peoples…
COP 22 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.

Water…
The Water for Africa initiative, established by the Kingdom of Morocco and supported by the African Development Bank was launched at COP 22, aiming to render justice to Africa through the adoption of a specific action plan that will mobilize different international political, financial and institutional partners.

The three alliances for basins, megacities and businesses, created at COP 21, which today represent more than 450 organizations worldwide, signed a common commitment to mobilize jointly their partners, identify and disseminate good practices and support the development of new projects.
 
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 mobilize governments, international organizations 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. 
Momentum for Change at COP 22…

The UNFCCC secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative hosted a series of special events at COP 22 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 some of the most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of what people are doing to address climate change – these events celebrated these solutions.

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