Friday, December 2, 2016

Guest Post: “We’ll always have Paris”

This detailed, but succinct analysis of the United Nations climate conference at Marrakech, COP22, by the Heinrich Boll Foundation is well worth reading. The authors are Lili Fuhr, Liane Schalatek, and Simon Ilse. The original was published 1 December 2016 and is reproduced here under a Creative Commons- Share-Alike licence.

At the UN’s COP 22 climate conference in Marrakech, the international community closed ranks despite (or perhaps because of?) the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president. Thanks to its swift ratification by currently more than 110 countries, negotiations on the technical implementation of the Paris Agreement could begin. The pace must increase significantly, however, if the 1.5°C limit is still to be met.[1]

The Paris Agreement entered into force on the 4th of November, two days before the opening of the climate conference in Marrakech. A majority of states had ratified the agreement in their national parliaments. Never before have so many countries joined an international agreement in such a short time – a mere ten months. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon praised the determination of the states in the last speech of his tenure at the conference in Marrakech. Shortly thereafter – two days into the summit – the elation vanished abruptly. The clear election victory of Donald Trump – who has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and questioned the gamut of U.S. international commitments – depressed the mood in Marrakech. The well-founded fear that Trump would back out of the Paris Agreement and reverse all of the achievements of his predecessor Barack Obama, or even cancel U.S. membership in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dominated almost all discussions. The intended broad theme of the conference – climate change in Africa – thus took a back seat.

A lot is at stake for the continent: Africa already suffers heavily from the impacts of climate change. African governments are calling for financial and technological support as well assistance in building their capacity for the implementation of their national climate plans – and not just with regard to climate protection, but especially on the much more urgent issue of climate change adaptation.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Marrakech: we will move ahead

On the last day of the UN climate conference, COP22 in Marrakech, Greenpeace organised a photo shoot outside the entrance to the COP22 conference venue with a huge banner saying: We will move ahead. It was advertised to delegates as the largest photo shoot of the UNFCCC 'family'. Party delegates and observers, media and members of the secretariat gathered for the photo.

After the emotional rollercoaster ride of the US presidential election and considerable chatter about what a Trump Presidency would mean for climate action, the event was a fitting summary of the resolve of people at the conference. To forge ahead despite a climate denialist being elected President of the USA.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Marrakech Action Proclamation at COP22

Host country Morocco developed the Marrakech Action Proclamation (PDF), which was read out to the full Plenary on Thursday 17 November 2016.

The one page statement articulates the urgency of climate change, and the unstoppable global momentum on climate action and sustainable development action by governments, businesses, investors, sub-regional government and cities. It can be read as a veiled message to Donald Trump and his election to the US Presidency, that the world is proceeding to act on climate change. In Fact, Ed King from Climate Home has done just that: Marrakech Call decoded: UN sends Trump its climate demands.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Julie Bishop signs Second Because the Ocean Declaration

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop sure has the gift of the gab with fine rhetorical statements on Australia’s strong targets (ahem), that presently commits the world to 4 degrees C or more of warming.

I caught up with her on Monday night of the second week of COP22 in a high level event at the French Pavillion. She was there with several other ministers to sign the second ‘Because the Ocean declaration’ to improve ocean and reef conservation efforts as part of the UNFCCC climate change process. (See details on signing the First Declaration in Paris at COP21 here)

She highlighted the Australian Government’s 2015 Reef 2050 plan, and $2 billion over 10 years to reduce water pollution affecting the Great Barrier Reef at both this event and later in her ministerial statement to COP.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Kick Polluters out of COP22: Climate Justice activists stand with Moroccan communities

Article first published at San Fransisco Bay Area Indymedia

Morocco has painted itself as a green leader at this UN climate conference, and in many ways it is, but beneath the surface there are also the stories of pollution, greenwashing and hypocrisy which activists have brought to light.

Activists on Thursday highlighted two of these stories, of heavy pollution caused by phosphate mining of the water at Safi, a town on the Moroccan coast, and at Managem's silver mine at Imider. Water is Life. The phosphate company and the silver mining Company are both sponsors of COP22 that are destroying the water quality, health and life of local communities.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Multilateral assessment of Australia at COP22 for climate action

Australia was under the spotlight at COP22 in Marrakech as part of the SBI multilateral assessment process for climate action. You can read the 31 pages of written questions and responses already on record (PDF).

Each country was allocated 30 minutes of live questioning following a brief statement by the country being questioned.

Europe was up first with their statement and then questions from USA, New Zealand, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Singapore, China. Europe then responded to these questions.

Then it was Australia's turn with Australia's lead negotiator Ambassador Patrick Suckling saying that the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is delivering real emissions cuts and that Australia is on target for meeting 2020 and 2030 targets.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Investor perspectives on beyond Paris and the US election at #COP22

Ceres and the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) press conference on Beyond Paris and the US elections: investor perspectives. It highlighted that climate change is viewed by many businesses as both a risk and an opportunity.

Kids win: US #climate court case moves forward

The Our Children's Trust climate court case against the US President, US Government and Fossil Fuel Industry has passed another hurdle with Federal Judge Ann Aiken rejecting U.S. government and fossil fuel industries motions to dismiss.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Strong ambition needed to meet 1.5C #ParisAgreement Target #COP22

According to the latest Climate Action Tracker assessment of national climate plans (NDCs), the Paris Agreement current commitments will lead to a warming of 2.8degC, with a likely chance of holding warming below 3.1degC.

It is clear that more ambition is needed, and the earlier emission reductions happen, the greater the benefit.

I was unable to make this press conference but Dr Cara Augustenborg did a sterling job of tweeting the main points. The Press conference is available as video on demand.

Host country, Morocco, is one of the few countries rated by Climate Action Tracker as 'Sufficient' in their climate targets and climate action. Morocco, along with Nepal are the only countries to update their climate plans (NDCs) since the Paris Agreement was agreed.

Australia ratifies #ParisAgreement as #COP22 meets

Waking up in Marrakech to the news that Australia has stayed the course and ratified the Paris Agreement. Welcome news after Trump was elected President of the United States promising to wind back United States climate action. See my article on the response from climate NGOs to Trump's election.

I commented at the end of October of Australia's efforts to ratify the treaty. It was leaked in a tweet by French Environment Minister Segolene Royal that it might be done by Novenber 15. They got it done five days earlier, in time for the high level ministerial meeting at COP22 next week.

The ratification is significant as it is for both the Paris Agreement and the Doha Amendment. The Doha Amendment establishes the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol up to 2020. As of 7 November 2016, 72 nations had ratified the Doha amendment.

It also comes at a time providing a small ray of hope to attendees at the climate talks in Marrakech after the US election results and Trump's policy threats to withdraw from the Paris Agreement (difficult though that might be)