Delivering on the promise

Last year in Paris, COP21 set ambitious targets for curbing climate change and achieving sustainable growth. How will the 2016 conference turn those promises into actions?

14th September 2016

Morocco’s Noor 1 concentrated solar power plant, inaugurated in 2016. According to Climate Action Tracker, Morocco is one of the few countries whose mitigation plans are sufficient to meet its INDCs.
© Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images

Delivering on the promise

Last year in Paris, COP21 set ambitious targets for curbing climate change and achieving sustainable growth. How will the 2016 conference turn those promises into actions?

By Abdeladim Lhafi Commissioner, 
22nd Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Fifteen years after the seventh Conference of the Parties (COP7), Morocco will once again host countries party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as COP22 comes to Marrakech from 7 to 18 November 2016.

The Paris Agreement was a major diplomatic success – a historic turning point – not only in terms of expressing the strong political will to limit global temperature rises to well below 2°C by the end of this century, but also by linking the two issues of climate change and sustainable development.

If Paris was a conference of major decisions, Marrakech will be a conference of implementation. We will need to take the concrete actions to meet the priorities set by COP21. Expectations, understandably, are high.

The issues involved in tackling adaptation and mitigation are closely intertwined. We will need 
to decide on the best ways to minimise the effects 
of extreme climate-related events, particularly in 
those countries that are likely to suffer most as temperatures rise.

This will be no easy task, as the problems these countries face are many and varied, including (but not limited to) food security, ensuring a clean and plentiful supply of water, protecting soil against erosion and salinisation, and deforestation.

Nations will need to ensure that their short-term economic plans are compatible with the long-term goals of sustainable development. Specifically, we will need to ensure that, by 2020, countries each have a national plan in place for how they will develop sustainably with low greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the next 30 years. The goal should be to achieve GHG neutrality in the second half of the century, as stated in the Paris Agreement.

COP22 must also address the issue of finance. We must ensure in particular that developed countries honour their financial commitments, and that flows of finance are consistent with the pathway towards low GHG emissions and climate-resilient development. How finance is mobilised will be crucial. Public–private partnerships, for example, will be key.

The transfer of technology will be an efficient tool to support countries of the global South in setting their own domestic policies – for renewable energy and water management, for example.

South–South cooperation will also help to spread best practices more adapted to the specific conditions of these countries. By establishing local expertise, and turning countries’ intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) into domestic policies, projects can be carried through in a sustainable way to meet the goals defined at COP21.

Three clear signals
If we are to achieve the goals set at Paris, Marrakech must deliver three clear signals to the world.

First, we need to signal strong political will. To enable this, we must ensure the Paris Agreement enters into force quickly (ideally before COP22), by achieving the double threshold of ratification by i) at least 55 parties to the UNFCCC and ii) countries that together represent at least 55 per cent of global GHG emissions. We also need to achieve ratification of the Doha Amendment, the amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and the ambitious and fair Global Market-Based Measure at the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Second, we need to signal that technical achievement of various issues (adaptation finance and capacity building, for example) should make it possible to update the INDCs to achieve even greater cuts in GHG emissions. The available data shows that we are far away from achieving the 2°C global target.

Third, the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must be connected to climate change, if we are to achieve a three-way balance of economic growth, environmental protection and socially inclusive development.