We will move ahead, leaders say in Marrakech climate conference

The Marrakech Climate Change Conference COP 22 took place last week (7-18 November, 2016) in Marrakech, Morocco. It marked the first meeting of the governing body of the Paris Agreement made last year and ended with high optimism that the world needs to avert global warming crisis before it is too late. The countries agreed to set a new target of 2018 as a deadline to finish up with decisions needed to implement the Paris agreement (See Cleanleap summary COP 21 Paris).

Calling for increased political willingness to combat climate change, increased capacity for technological climate innovations and increased financing of climate projects, the countries pledged to unite to promote climate actions amidst unsubstantiated fears that United States top political leadership might not favor the fight against climate change in the near future.

“Indeed, this year, we have seen extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide, and in many multilateral fora,” says the proclamation. “This momentum is irreversible – it is being driven not only by governments, but by science, business and global action of all types at all levels.”

The Marrakech Climate Change Conference was not without creativity for climate-related actions: it took place as Marrakech launched a bike-sharing program in Morocco as part of a strategy to reduce emissions. Faced with a challenge of poor bicycle use culture in the whole of Africa, the Medina bike-sharing program, the first of its kind in the continent, operates 300 bicycles that will serve 10 hubs. Supported by UNIDO, GEF, the program is implemented by the Environment Ministry of the Kingdom of Morocco.

Medina Bike Sharing program launched alongside COP22

Following on from the Paris agreement

The Paris agreement took effect on November 4, 2016 after 55 countries that account for at least 55 percent of global emissions formally accepted the agreement as was required in the law for it to come into effect. That was fast. However, no decisions from the Paris agreement were ready for adoption when countries met this month in Marrakech, and so the countries set a deadline of COP 24 (coming in 2018) as the latest when decisions are to be ready for adoption.

However, countries agreed to follow up on the Paris optimism: they will follow up commitments made in Paris last year by starting to update their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) before 2020. Other proposals arising include promoting climate risk insurance to 400 million people by 2020, promoting adaptation actions, increasing climate investments at local level, and promoting climate information and education.

As it is, the world must reduce 12 to 14 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius this century. That requires commitment, dedication and action.

Renewable energy in developing countries

At the center of Marrakech conference, developing countries pledged to continue investing in renewable energy towards achieving a 100% target. More than 40 vulnerable nations committed to achieve 100% renewable energy between 2030 and 2050.

A lot is to be appreciated seeing that adoption and increased use of renewable energy in developing countries could help reduce emissions by almost a half a gigatonne before 2020 according to a report by 1 Gigaton Coalition. International financiers used a total of $76 billion – an average of $7.6 billion per year to develop renewable energy projects between 2005 and 2014 according to the report, and last year was great for renewable energy in developing countries because these countries invested more in renewable energy projects than did developed countries.

Morocco, for instance, has successfully built Africa’s largest wind farm that will bring electricity to 1.1 million people in 2018 when it reaches full potential. The country hopes to produce 40 per cent of its energy from renewable sources. Of course realizing those cuts as projected by the report might be affected by the persistent challenges including lack of good relevant policy, regulatory, and institutional frameworks, information and technical capacity, financing and investments. In deed, problems in implementing and managing renewable energy projects in developing countries sometimes cause some projects to fail completely and others are at the verge of collapse.

Quarzazate Solar Plant in Morocco 

Simply put, for better results, there has to be a way through which developing countries clearly see the link between success of each of these projects and climate change and how that climate change affects and costs them.

The report by 1 Gigaton Coalition, which is supported by UN Environment Program and the Norwegian Government, argues that the emission reduction could rise to 1 gigatonne if developed nations meet their promise of providing USD $100 billion in annual climate financing by 2020. Of course, developed nations reiterated their commitment to this financing during COP 22 although it was expected they could increase funding. That adaptation funding, however, will now be available to countries under certain conditions that improve accountability.

The World Bank announced it would increase climate funding in Middle East and North Africa to US$1.5 billion per year by 2020.

2050 Pathways Platform and Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action

A number of programs were launched at the COP 22 to help accelerate climate action and reduce emissions, among them the 2050 Pathways Platform and the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.

The 2050 Pathways Platform, which was launched at COP 22, will support countries "seeking to devise long-term, net zero-greenhouse gas, climate-resilient and sustainable development pathways." The initiative will help the countries with resources (including finance, capacity building), knowledge and experiences and has already attracted 22 countries.

The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action launched at COP 22 will seek to accelerate climate actions as agreed in Paris by providing a structured and coherent framework among governmental and non-government stakeholders between 2017-2020. It will do this by convening interested parties to promote negotiation among parties and showcase successes in climate actions through events, track progress and report on achievements and options for improving proposed climate actions.

“A phrased approach will be taken throughout each year, culminating in a high level engagement among decision makers during the sessions of the COP.”

The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action will, through Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA), showcase climate actions and successes that prove to be relevant, scalable, of specific outcomes, transparent, having ability to deliver results, and with high impact. It will help bring together governments and climate policy makers, climate financiers, climate technological innovators, businesses and service providers, and the civil society.

Other non-governmental stakeholder that made commitments at COP 22 include the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), European External Investment Plan (EEIP) a $500 Marrakech Investment Committee for Adaptation Fund (MICA), Initiative for Renewable Island Energy and the African Capital Markets.

Looking forward to 2017

Countries and stakeholders will continue pushing for more accelerated climate actions come 2017 through the above discussed and many other platforms, which are important in averting a global warming crisis. A group of scientists has already warned that the world could miss on the target to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as agreed in Paris climate negotiations last December and there is no doubt that urgent actions are needed now.

The world still awaits the outcome of this optimism seeking to reverse global warming effects before it is too late.

Of course, that path is not without challenges: some of the world’s richest countries, for instance, continue to fund fossil fuel exploration and production at a rate more than 20 times higher than their contributions to climate change adaptation efforts. Over 400 organizations from more than 40 countries recently called for these leaders to stop new fossil fuel development. Coal energy production is still contentious issue and continues in many parts of the world while renewable energy costs are still too high in comparison, which affects increased adoption.