COP22 – Media Background Note

 

From 7-18 November 2016, the United Nations climate change negotiations will convene in Marrakech, Morocco, for COP 22.[1] The upcoming conference comes after a year of growing political momentum within the international community to address climate change. In December 2015 the Paris Agreement was adopted and, following a series of important political events, the Agreement will now enter into force on 4 November 2016. This comes about due to more than 55 countries representing 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions ratifying the Agreement, a threshold which was passed much sooner than anticipated, demonstrating strong global will to combat climate change.

While international political progress over the past year has been significant, countries are still far from implementing actions on the scale required to steer the planet away from dangerous climate change and achieve the goals that have been set under international agreements. For developing countries, and in particular the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Marrakech is an important opportunity to continue working towards a strong and fair international response to climate change, to protect poor and vulnerable communities across the world and safeguard the planet for future generations.

At COP22 the focus is shifting from procedural discussions on how to organise the work under the Paris Agreement to action and implementation. Parties will begin negotiating how the UNFCCC’s ‘rule book’ will be elaborated to ensure the commitments Parties made in Paris are translated into tangible actions to address climate change. The entry into force of the Paris Agreement means that the first meeting of parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA) will take place in Marrakech (see the note below on early entry into force and the structure of negotiations). The CMA is a meeting of all the countries that have ratified the Paris Agreement and is tasked with making decisions to promote the effective implementation of the agreement.[2]

Detailed in this note are some of the key questions arising in Marrakech, including:

  • How will support be secured for poor and vulnerable countries?
  • How will global temperature goals be met?
  • How will countries adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change?
  • How will countries cope with the unavoidable impacts of climate change?

The development of the “LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative (REEEI) for Sustainable Development” is also outlined; an initiative reflecting countries’ intention to take real action on climate change at COP22.

The Least Developed Countries group is committed to achieving fair and ambitious outcomes on all of the issues arising at COP 22, not just those listed here. For further information, interviews, briefings or quotes on these topics or others from the LDC group during COP 22 please contact Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, Chair of the LDC group, media.ldcchair.cop22@gmail.com.

1.      The LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative for Sustainable Development

The Marrakech conference will provide a platform for the advancing collaborative efforts by countries to act on climate change. Of particular significance to the LDCs is the “LDC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Initiative (REEEI) for Sustainable Development”. Ministers and Heads of Delegation from the LDCs welcomed the proposed initiative at a meeting of LDC negotiators in Kinshasa in September, providing a platform for its launch at COP22.

The LDC REEEI promises to improve livelihoods across the LDCs, bringing modern, clean, resilient energy systems to millions of energy-starved people. Through improved energy access and the creation of jobs, the Initiative will simultaneously contribute to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative aims to ensure no LDC will be left behind by supporting African LDCs to participate effectively in the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, while developing similar opportunities for Asian and other LDCs. The initiative also offers an opportunity for developed countries to fulfil their commitments to provide financial, technological and capacity building support under UNFCCC agreements.

The LDC REEEI is to form part of a broader Global Programme on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency that will foster access to energy and sustainable development across the LDCs, African countries and small island and other developing states.

2.      How will support to poor and vulnerable countries be secured?

Key discussions in Marrakech will take place around the commitment made by developed countries to mobilise a minimum of $100bn a year in climate finance to support developing countries to adapt to climate change and take actions to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Developing countries are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and yet many lack the capacity to adequately protect their populations from the severe storms, increased drought, sea level rise and spreading disease that is already starting to occur. Further, while most developing countries have also submitted plans to limit their emissions in their intended or final Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement, many have also noted the need for support in order to carry out their mitigation and adaptation commitments. Preliminary estimates of the total amount of finance required for developing countries to implement their NDCs exceed $4tn USD. However, given that only half of developing countries provided estimated cost figures in their NDCs, the real figure is likely to be much higher.

A key issue with respect to climate finance is also how climate finance is tracked and accounted for. Much of the finance counted as climate finance in official reports in fact comes from Official Development Assistance, which would have been provided as development aid in any case. Much climate finance also comes in the form of loans rather than grants. Climate change is a challenge which is both additional to and exacerbates existing development challenges, so to ensure all countries have the tools and resources to reduce their emissions and protect their communities it is important that the finance counted towards the $100bn minimum target represents new and additional finance that goes beyond Official Development Assistance and takes into account the needs of developing countries.

LDC ministers in their recent meeting in Kinshasa also emphasised the importance of developing country ownership over finance provided, urging the Financial Mechanism of the Paris Agreement “to ensure country ownership, facilitate direct access and provide support while prioritizing the most vulnerable countries particularly LDCs to develop quality projects.”[3]

3.      How will global temperature goals be met?

In Marrakech, key discussions will continue around action to curb greenhouse gas emissions to safe limits for communities and ecosystems across the world. Reports by the IPCC (the UN’s climate science panel) highlight the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the most catastrophic of projected impacts. The Paris Agreement sets a goal of keeping average global temperatures well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.[4] This goal must be taken seriously as many vulnerable countries face devastating impacts even with 1.5°C of warming, particularly small island states, some of which could disappear due to rising sea-levels at warming above these levels. Warming above these levels increases the risks of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.[5]

If countries continue emitting in a business as usual scenario the world will experience warming of 2.6-4.8°C above preindustrial levels by the end of the century.[6] Current targets set by countries under their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally are also not enough, and are projected to lead to temperatures 3-3.5 degrees above preindustrial levels (this is also assuming full implementation of developing country commitments which are conditional on the provision of support from developed countries).[7]

The Paris Agreement provides that every five years countries will submit a new NDC that represents a ‘progression’ beyond their current commitments.[8] Thus, important discussions will be had in Marrakech around how the Paris Agreement will facilitate an upwards spiralling of commitments that is both fair and proportional to the task at hand. This will include mechanisms to enhance accountability among countries such as reporting and review requirements, to enable the scrutinization of countries’ actions against the best available science.

4.      How will countries adapt to climate change?

Ongoing discussions around how countries will adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change are imperative to an effective global response, with the communities across the world at risk. These impacts are particularly acute in the LDCs, as rising sea levels, extreme weather events, increased drought and floods and the spread of tropical diseases threaten public health, food security and water supplies. In the lead up to the Marrakech conference, LDC ministers have emphasised the need to “raise the profile of adaptation by insisting on recognition of adaptation efforts”.[9] Recognition of adaptation as a component of the commitments made by countries under their NDCs was an important achievement in Paris.[10]

An important debate in Marrakech will be around how the UNFCCC’s ‘rule book’ will be elaborated to further adaptation action. The adaptation provisions within the Paris Agreement are expressed quite generally and require further modalities to be developed by Parties.[11] The upcoming negotiations are an important opportunity for countries to form the rules and mechanisms that will support adaptation efforts into the future.

In Marrakech discussions will also be had around how developed countries will provide support to ensure all countries can meet their adaptation commitments. LDC ministers recently called for the “mobilization of adequate and effective support for adaptation”,[12] to enable communities to prepare their economies, infrastructure and social support structures for the impacts of climate change.

5.      How will countries cope with unavoidable climate impacts?

Not all of the negative effects of climate change are avoidable. With a changing climate, communities who are reliant on agriculture can have their livelihoods wiped out during a single bad drought, while island states face the loss of homes, culture and history of entire populations. Thus, an important aspect of responding to climate change effectively is addressing impacts that communities are not able to cope with or adapt to. In the UNFCCC process this is referred to as ‘loss and damage’.

A significant achievement in Paris was the recognition of loss and damage as a key action area in the international community’s response to climate change, with a standalone provision in the Paris Agreement. However, as with adaptation, the loss and damage provision is expressed in general terms and further work will be required to fully elaborate a mechanism to “enhances understanding, action and support” with respect to loss and damage.[13]

A central component of the framework for loss and damage negotiated in Paris is strengthening the existing Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts.  Countries agreed that this will include establishing a clearinghouse for risk transfer to act as a repository for information to assist with the development of comprehensive risk management strategies.[14] This will help developing countries to gain greater understanding of and access to risk management tools such as insurance and contingency funds which can be used to address loss and damage. A task force to assist people displaced by the impacts of climate change will also be developed.[15]

A note on early entry into force of the Paris Agreement and structure of negotiations

The climate negotiations involve the meeting of several bodies. The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the meeting of all the countries who are party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 2016 will be the 22nd meeting of the COP. The ultimate decision making body of the Paris Agreement, the CMA will also take place for the first time this year. This is the body that will make decisions specifically relating to fleshing out and elaborating the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement and decision require the first meeting of the CMA to adopt numerous rules and modalities to develop the ‘rulebook’ mentioned above. However, given the Agreement was not expected to enter into force this year there is concern that work on developing these rules and modalities will not be complete by Marrakech.[16] Further, only countries which have ratified the Paris Agreement can participate actively in the CMA, which means that countries which have not yet ratified may be shut out of some of the key early decisions to be made. One option to ensure that no country is disadvantaged or excluded from the collective development of the Paris Agreement rulebook would be to suspend the CMA immediately after it is convened in Marrakech and mandate that work continues under the COP and its subsidiary negotiating body the APA on developing rules, modalities and procedures, to be completed within a given timeframe. All countries could then continue to shape the rulebook for the Paris Agreement in an inclusive manner. This will be a key point of discussion in the lead up to Marrakech.

The Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) will also meet. Negotiations under the Kyoto Protocol will also continue at the conference, with the twelfth meeting of the Parties to the Protocol (CMP 12).

[1] The 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

[2] http://unfccc.int/bodies/body/9968.php

[3] Communiqué from the LDC Pre-Marrakech ministerial meeting, hosted in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, 28 September 2016, Annex: thematic priorities: https://ldcclimate.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/ldc-pre-marrakech-ministerial-meeting-kinshasa-democratic-republic-of-congo-28-september-2016/.

[4] Paris Agreement, Article 2(1)(a).

[5] UNFCCC 2013-2015 Review and Structured Expert Dialogue http://unfccc.int/files/science/workstreams/the_2013-2015_review/application/pdf/sed_final_report_presentation_a__fischlin__zou_ji.pdf

[6] IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, summary for policy makers, page 10: https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/AR5_SYR_FINAL_SPM.pdf

[7] UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2015, pages 21-22. http://uneplive.unep.org/media/docs/theme/13/EGR_2015_301115_lores.pdf

[8] Paris Agreement, Article 3.

[9] Communiqué from the LDC Pre-Marrakech ministerial meeting, hosted in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, 28 September 2016, Annex: thematic priorities: https://ldcclimate.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/ldc-pre-marrakech-ministerial-meeting-kinshasa-democratic-republic-of-congo-28-september-2016/ .

[10] Paris Agreement, Article 3.

[11] Paris Agreement, Articles 3 and 7.

[12] Communiqué from the LDC Pre-Marrakech ministerial meeting, hosted in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, 28 September 2016, Annex: thematic priorities: https://ldcclimate.wordpress.com/2016/10/22/ldc-pre-marrakech-ministerial-meeting-kinshasa-democratic-republic-of-congo-28-september-2016/ .

[13] Paris Agreement, Article 8(3).

[14] Decision 1/CP.21 Article 49

[15] Decision 1/CP.21 Article 50.

[16] http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/10153IIED.pdf

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