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What Will Remain of the Climate Challenge Conference? The Fate of the Planet Between Paris and Marrakech

Under the rising tide of skeptical climatologists, particularly in the U.S., where they became the leaders of the White House, the return to the “COP21” and “COP22” conferences is necessary to measure the degree of hope to save what can be saved for this co-existence on a planet where its leaders quarrel about the reality of its fatal illnesses, while the doomsday clock is ticking.

The history of mankind was based, from the beginning, on the increasing unity of Man and Nature. But now, it is in the midst of a self-destructive process and the crumbling of this unity. Increasingly, the world is moving towards a global ecological catastrophe. Global warming has significant repercussions for natural hydraulic cycles. For example, despite all scientific and technological advances, the UN has reported that, since the beginning of this century, 370,000 people have lost their lives because of the consequences of CC. Moreover, by 2020, almost 60 million people will be displaced because of the scarcity of drinking water, if nothing is done in this geographical area; a high proportion of them are African.

Models established by climatologists show that the climate of the earth suddenly changed in the early 20th century because human activity is changing the composition of the atmosphere, which is the cause of the warming. For example, carbon dioxide (CO2) generally derived from the consumption of fossil fuels, alone accounts for three quarters of the Greenhouse Effect (GHE). The emissions doubled in forty years (1970-2010) and now have reached 50 Gigatons’ CO2 eq/year. Currently, almost half of this gas is absorbed by oceans and vegetation. In 1957, the American climatologist Charles D. Keeling proved the correlation between the increase of the CO2 content in the atmosphere and the average temperature of the earth’s surface, which is about 15 degrees Celsius.

For its most optimistic scenario, the Intergovernmental Expert Group on Climate Revolution (IEGC) assumes that the CO2 concentration would be stabilized at 412 ppm in 2100, that is to say 457 ppm CO2 equivalent if other GHEs and the increase in the temperature would be limited to 1.7 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial period.

It’s for this reason that the 22nd Session of the Congress of the Parties (COP22) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (CC) in Marrakech is held for environment protection and strategic decision-makings in order to limit the global average warming to two degrees Celsius, and make a position concretely and clearly to defend the poorest African countries and island states most affected by the negative impact of CC.

COP21: Historical Agreement

The Paris Agreement adopted in 2015 at COP21 is a historic event because, for the first time, 197 countries have agreed about the objective of keeping global warming below the threshold of 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level, by reducing their GHG emissions. Among the most important commitments and decisions adopted, there are:

  • The Paris Committee for capacity building aims to fill gaps and address current needs in the implementation of capacity-building in developing countries and to consolidate its efforts,
  • The Paris Agreement would come into force officially, once at least 55 countries emitting at least 55 percent of the global GHG emissions, have ratified it,
  • The industrialized countries are committed to mobilize $100 billion (89.3 billion euros) by 2020 for the benefit of the poorest countries in sub-Sahara Africa, the South of Asia and the small island states, to help them to adapt to CC.

This success is due to the political dynamics achieved by the two successive Presidents of COP21, Laurent Fabius and Ségolène Royale.

During his participation at the COP21 in Paris, Baraka Obama, as a U.S. president announced: “The Paris Climate Agreement is a turning point for the human effort to combat dangerous global warming and protect our planet for future generations.” He added: “No nation, not even one as powerful as ours, can solve this problem alone, we must do it together.

COP22: The Climate Talks in Marrakech headed for COP24 in Poland in 2018

COP22 in Marrakech ended with the adoption of a timetable for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, where the 197 delegations, present in Marrakech, validated the principle of finalizing their discussions in 2018 at COP24. This will take place in Poland, when the first global review of the commitments of the countries having ratified the Paris Agreement to reduce their emissions of GHG, will be given.

China, which has established a strong bilateral relationship with Washington on CC action since 2014, insisted through its negotiating leader in Marrakesh that its emission reduction targets remain unchanged. “The China-USA Climate Agreement was an essential milestone for the realization of the Paris Agreement,” declared Cassie Flynn, a climate expert for the UN Development Program. “We hope they remain both very involved in this matter.” Russia, very silent during the COP22, seems to be satisfied with a wait-and-see attitude.

“The oil producing countries are not blockers,” ensured a French negotiator. The European Union (EU) promises to remain mobilized. Morocco has affirmed a real awareness of the challenge of CC.

This led the king of Morocco to exercise leadership for the African continent. At the Action African Summit, which took place in parallel with COP22, he stressed: “We must act by ourselves and for ourselves, and involve our strategic partners for a resilient Africa to the CC.” Among its ambitions, expressed with vigor, he affirmed Morocco’s commitment to respect its promises made in Paris at COP21. Then, he launched a plea for the South: “to take our responsibilities towards God and history and for our peoples, first victims of the effects of the CC, although they are not the biggest polluters”.

COP22: No Progress on Funding for Adaptation and Mitigation Projects

The COP22 goal is to define the mechanisms for the implementation of the Paris Agreement. This requires the mobilization of all actors, including non-state ones. This congress has confirmed the two key points of the Paris Agreement, namely:

  • Help technically and financially the poorest countries to strengthen their capacities in order to reduce their GHG emissions and adapt to the CC,
  • Apply the “Transparency Principle”; that is to provide a report on the carbon dioxide reduction (CO2) by each country which has ratified the Paris Agreement. The report will be evaluated by a Committee composed of experts, followed by an overall assessment every five years to ensure that the international community is on the right path to reduce the planetary temperature to 2 degrees Celsius.

However, COP22 has allowed some regional coalitions to be heard. 48 countries of the “Climate Vulnerable Forum”, representing more than one billion people, are committed to raising their GHG emission reduction targets by 2020 and to produce 100 percent renewable energy as soon as possible. In addition, the renewable energy theme was also discussed at the African heads of state summit organized in parallel with COP22 by the King of Morocco, through the “Renewable Energy African Initiative” in which an agreement of 6 million euros in a donation form from the French government, was given.

In parallel to COP22, the Moroccan King and the Nigerian president submitted an agreement on an offshore pipeline project, 5000 km long, which should link Nigeria, the third largest producer of natural gas in Africa, through Morocco with Europe. This pipeline will run along the African West Coast and will have economic benefits for 13 African countries. All this will result from exploiting clean energy that respects the recent African commitments for environmental protection.

The finance for adaptation, the point of tension of the negotiators in Marrakech, the details on the mobilization of the $100 billion and their distributions promised by 2020 by the rich countries to allow the poorest ones to adapt to the CC and support their adaptation and mitigation projects, has not made any notable progress. The climate-skeptics countries are gaining ground and their economic interests are being brought forward to the detriment of environmental responsibility.

“Most developed countries have arrived in Marrakech without concrete announcements or funding to help the poorest countries to access renewable energy and to adapt to the CC effects, such as expected sea level rise and extreme weather conditions,” announced Lucile Dufour, a representative of the Climate Action Network. For the moment, the governments continue to rely on the dynamics often initiated by companies and NGOs. However, only the states can set the regulatory framework which will enable the achievement of a more rapid transition to 100 percent renewable energy and also meet the targets set at COP21.

COP22: Success for Morocco

The 22nd United Nations Conference of Parties (COP22), held in Marrakech, was a great success, particularly the organization, the security and the presence of non-governmental actors. This is a success that honors Morocco and strengthens its credibility at the international level. It is a great event because it concerns the future of humanity.

On the other hand, for the first time in the history of the COPs, the Marrakech one managed to establish the action agenda and the role of non-governmental actors in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and to speed up fighting against global warming. In terms of the number and quality of the participants, 38 Heads of State, countless Prime Ministers and members of foreign delegations and more than thirty thousand participants, representing firms and NGO, attended COP22.

“The U.S. has ratified the Paris Agreement and has committed to reduce its GHG emissions by 28 percent in 2025 compared to 2005 levels. This plan is the cornerstone of the U.S. contribution to the international effort fighting global warming. But, it does not go far enough. It was just the beginning of a long and difficult road,” suggested an Oxfam spokesperson.

“The test for the credibility of the Paris Climate Accord has begun in Marrakech. Each concerned country committed itself to develop voluntarily its own plan to reduce its GHG emissions, but our world is still on the path of the climatic warming of 3 degrees Celsius or more, higher than the target set by the Paris Agreement, which is 1.5 degrees Celsius. So, the countries will have to reduce quickly their GHG emissions.”

Statements highlighting the importance of this event include:

  • The king of Morocco, Mohammed VI, very involved in the sustainable development of Morocco, stressed the importance of helping the African countries, the main victims of CC,
  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has expressed his hope that President Donald Trump will change his mind and participate actively in the protection of our planet,
  • François Hollande, the French President, believes that the Paris Agreement is irreversible in law and conscience and called on the U.S. to respect its commitments.

John Kerry, former U.S. Secretary of State (2013-2017), during his presence at COP22, expressed his faith in the transition to renewable energy and announced that no one has the right to make decisions affecting billions of people on an ideological basis.

Check back tomorrow for more insight into the results of COP22 and the upcoming COP23.

Lead image credit: WeMeanBusiness | Flickr

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