While in Stockholm records were beaten in terms of snowfall in November, CLIMENGO members Karin Bäckstrand, Harro van Asselt, Oscar Widerberg and Lisa Sanderink traveled to warm and sunny Marrakech in Morocco to attend the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The COP which also served as the 12th meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) and of course as the 1st meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA). The Parties met to discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement, raising ambitions, climate finance, capacity-building, technology transfer, the involvement of non-state actors and much more.
For this purpose Morocco went out of its way to let the conference run smoothly. Even though there might have been some minor start-up problems, the event was well-organized and the vibrant city, which revolved around the COP, was a great home for the climate conference. It also showed in the strong commitment of Hakima El Haite, Delegate Minister of Environment of Morocco and appointed Climate Champion, who attended and spoke at as many events as possible.
The rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement ensured an optimistic atmosphere at the start of COP22. However, the news which came to light on Wednesday morning (9th of November) about the US elections threatened to cast a shadow on the COP. Trump’s intention to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement was the big elephant in the room. Still, it did not really seem to dominate the debates: the general hope that everyone held on to was that developments in climate action are already on their way and a president-elect cannot simply hinder these. This was also evident in the Marrakech Proclamation, which was released on the 17th of November. Therewith, the Heads of State, Governments and Delegations stressed the momentum for climate change worldwide, which is ‘irreversible’ (to read the full Marrakech Proclamation: http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/marrakech_nov_2016/application/pdf/marrakech_action_proclamation.pdf).
Accordingly, some of the key outcomes from the COP22 are the following. First of all, the intention to move forward on a rule book or operational manual for the Paris Agreement. Secondly, a capacity-building initiative for transparency was announced by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Moreover, the NDC Partnership was launched and governments made progress on key areas, such as climate finance, adaptation, capacity-building technology and gender responsiveness. Next to these outcomes a set of initiatives was launched, for example the Global Peatlands Initiative and the World Alliance for Clean Technologies. Last but not least, the High-Level Climate Champions launched the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, which is supposed to catalyze and support climate action by Parties and non-Party stakeholders in the period from 2017 to 2020. For more information on key achievements and initiatives please visit: http://newsroom.unfccc.int/unfccc-newsroom/nations-take-forward-global-climate-action-at-2016-un-climate-conference/).
Besides keeping track of the negotiations and developments at the COP22 for research, the CLIMENGO team was also involved in the organization of side-events. Harro van Asselt, as a researcher at the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), co-organized a side-event on ‘fossil fuel supply and climate change: key steps to enhance ambition’, together with Oil Change International (OCI) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI). Furthermore, Oscar Widerberg from IVM was involved in the organization of a side-event on linking state and non-state climate action, together with researchers from the German Development Institute (DIE Bonn), Forum for Reforms and Entrepreneurship (FORES) and York University. For more information on this event please read a blogpost by Oscar Widerberg: http://fragmentation.eu/?p=405.
To sum up, even though the COP22 was “the COP after Paris”, it was certainly of value. It reminded everyone of all the developments that are ongoing in climate action worldwide. Let’s hope the momentum is indeed irreversible. By all means it left the CLIMENGO members with much food for thought and inspiration for further research.