The EU’s climate commissioner argues that the progress made at the Marrakesh climate summit proofs there is no turning back: the world is forging ahead with climate action.
The COP22 conference concluded a little after midnight on Friday (18 November) with an agreement on next steps, and a fired up European Union.
The election of Donald Trump as the next US president cast a shadow of uncertainty over the summit, but not a single country said it would back out of the deal if Trump were to deliver on his election promise to “cancel” the Paris Agreement on climate change. Instead, they redoubled their commitment to climate action.
Almost 200 countries met in Morocco for the annual UN summit, against the backdrop of the rapid ratification and entry into force of the historic deal, which became international law earlier this month – well ahead of schedule, less than a year after it was adopted.
“The progress here in Marrakesh is the clearest proof that the world is forging ahead on global climate action. Climate change is bigger than any one country,” said said EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, “We will stand by Paris, we will defend Paris, and we will implement Paris. The global clean energy transition is here to stay, and Europe will continue to lead the way towards a more sustainable and competitive economy.”
Earlier last week, Cañete addressed the summit and called the Paris Agreement “irreversible and non-negotiable.” He also said “We are on the right side of history. What once seemed unattainable, is now unstoppable.”
In a statement after the summit, the European Commission highlighted a number of areas where it says Europe and the other participating countries have delivered concrete results.
Message of Global Unity
The Marrakech Action Proclamation – a one-page document signed by all countries – sent a message of global unity and unwavering commitment to the Paris Agreement, and signalled that the shift to a zero-carbon economy is irreversible.
In the proclamation countries also say they “call on all non-state actors to join us for immediate and ambitious action and mobilisation.” The call highlights that as the world shifts from negotiation to the implementation of the transition to a zero carbon economy, there is a growing demand for the involvement of cities, states and provinces, businesses, researchers and public-private innovation partnerships like Climate-KIC.
Agreement on “Rulebook” Timeline
But the Paris Agreement still needs a so-called “rulebook” to establish the rules and processes required for the mammoth task of enabling almost 200 countries to deliver on the goals they agreed to in the Paris Agreement in a transparent and efficient manner.
According to the EU, countries made “good progress” with the rulebook and that a way forward was agreed “that will ensure the rulebook will be ready by 2018.” That deadline – December 2018 specifically – is in line with previous expectations.
Help For Developing Countries
Support from richer countries to enable developing nations to make the shift to a zero-carbon economy is also seen as a crucial part of the Paris Agreement. Without it, carbon emissions from countries like India could spin out of control as their growing economies demand increasing amounts of cheap energy.
And the most vulnerable countries are running out of time to implement adaptation measures that fend off the effects of climate change brought on by a century of carbon emissions from other parts of the world. In 2015, the EU and its member states provided €17.6 billion to help developing countries tackle climate change.
Annual $100 billion goal stands: At COP22, richer countries reconfirmed that they want to jointly mobilise $100 billion annually by 2020 to help developing nations.
Adaptation Fund increases to $81 million: The Adaptation Fund, established back in 2001, directly supports developing countries in their efforts to cope with the effects of climate change. EU member states Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Italy announced new contributions to the Adaptation Fund which now stands at $81 million. The EU contributions account for more than 90 per cent of the total amount available.
Capacity building committee to start in 2017: It was agreed that the Paris Committee on Capacity Building will begin its work in 2017. According to the EU, the work of the committee will play an important part in helping to develop and strengthen the skills and expertise needed in developing countries to implement their domestic climate plans.
Loss and damage review: The Warsaw International Mechanism was established at the COP19 climate summit in Poland to gather evidence that will help all nations understand how climate change impacts the most vulnerable developing countries, and as a result how they could be supported. According to the EU, it was agreed to review the mechanism and see how it could be more effective “through collaboration with a wide range of bodies and entities inside and outside” the official UN process. The EU says the decision shows that richer nations are committed to addressing “the concerns of the most vulnerable countries.”
Other EU Announcements
The European Union made a number of announcements during the two-week conference and highlighted some of the key ones in its post-summit statement.
Insurance coverage: Germany contributed €40 million and the European Commission €20 million to the InsuResilience initiative. This G7 initiative aims to increase access to direct or indirect insurance coverage against the impacts of climate change for up to 400 million of the most vulnerable people in developing countries by 2020.
Renewable energy in Africa: The EU has promised to facilitate investments that will increase Africa’s renewable electricity generation capacity to at least 5 GW by 2020. This is already half of the 10 GW goal of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative for 2020.
Renewable energy trade around the Mediterranean: Morocco, Germany, France, Spain and Portugal signed a roadmap for sustainable electricity trade to identify barriers to trade in renewable electricity between the five signatory countries – and to suggest ways to overcome them.
External investment: The European External Investment Plan, which will be announced this autumn, is expected to trigger public and private investments of up to €44 billion in Africa and in and around the European Union.
Millions for technology transfer: The European Union was also part of a deal to scale-up of the UN’s Climate Technology Centre & Network (CTCN), of which the EU’s climate innovation initiative Climate-KIC is a member. The European Union, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, Korea and the United States announced over $23 million for the network. The CTCN and its partners help developing nations with technical assistance to help implement climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
Whether you’re a student, start-up, researcher, public official or represent a corporation: you can get involved in Europe’s efforts to implement the Paris Agreement. Find out how on the Climate-KIC website.