Countries accelerated global climate action across a broad range of areas at the 2016 UN climate change conference as they fast-tracked the political and practical aims of the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Multi-billion and multi-million dollar packages of support for clean technologies; building capacity to report on climate action plans, and initiatives for boosting water and food security in developing countries were also among the many new announcements and initiatives launched.
Meanwhile governments set a rapid deadline of 2018 to complete the rule book for operationalizing the Paris Agreement to ensure confidence, cooperation and its success over the years and decades to come.
Businesses, investors, cities and local governments also issued new climate change commitments, adding to the thousands announced in the run up to the Paris climate conference last year.
For example, a club of subnational governments, the Under2 Coalition, who have committed to reduce their emissions by at least 80 percent by 2020, announced their membership has grown to 165.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum a group of more than 40 vulnerable nations, released a declaration that strengthens the call to limit global temperature rise to as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.
Their Marrakech Vision commits these countries to various ambitious aims, including achieving 100% renewable energy between 2030 and 2050.
Several countries – Canada, Germany, Mexico and the United States – announced ambitious climate strategies out to 2050, reflecting the long-term goal of the Paris Agreement to achieve climate neutrality and a low-emission world in the second half of the century.
The Paris Agreement was not done in a day, and it will not be undone following an elections outcome of any single country. I am convinced that more ambition on climate change represents a win-win situation for our environment, our climate and our economy through the creation of millions of green jobs. And we were here in Marrakesh to testify to that fact and to translate these words into action.
Key Outcomes and Initiatives
A crucial outcome of the Marrakesh climate conference was to move forward on writing the rule book, or operational manual, of the Paris Agreement.
The agreement calls for a significant boost of transparency of action, including for measuring and accounting emissions reductions, the provision of climate finance, and technology development and transfer.
It also includes work to design the adaptation communications, which is the primary vehicle under the Paris Agreement to share individual adaptation efforts and support needs.
At COP 22, seven developing countries presented updates and opened themselves to examination by their peers on how they are moving to a low carbon economy.
This fits into delivering a system for monitoring, verifying and reporting actions and opens the door to greater ambition under their climate action plans, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Progress by Governments
Governments made progress across key areas of climate action, including climate finance, adaptation, capacity building, technology and gender-responsiveness. This is an overview:
- Countries pledged more than $81 million to the Adaptation Fund, surpassing its target for the year.
- Countries pledged over $23 million to the Climate Technology Centre and Network, which supports developing countries with climate technology development and transfer. As the implementation arm of the Technology Mechanism, the CTCN is a key institution to enable nations realize their commitments under the Paris Agreement.
- The Green Climate Fund (GCF) announced the approval of the first two proposals for the formulation of National Adaptation Plans: Liberia for $2.2 million and Nepal for $2.9 million. Another 20 countries are expected to have their proposals approved soon with up to $3 million each.
- Overall, the GCF is on track to approve $2.5 billion worth of projects.
Announcements linked to GCA events at COP 22 include:
9 African Capital Markets Authorities and Exchanges, accounting for 26 African countries, have signed and endorsed the Marrakech Pledge for Fostering Green Capital Markets in Africa.
The European Union Commission launched the European Fund for Sustainable Development to encourage investment in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood, strengthen partnerships, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The plan involves:
Value of up to EUR4.1 billion, triggering regional public and private investment of up to EUR44 billion to 2020.
Technical assistance to help local authorities and companies to develop bankable projects and to improve regulatory environments in partner countries.
Improvement of the general business environment by supporting reforms in economic governance
The number of companies making climate commitments through the We Mean Business coalition has more than doubled since COP 21.
We Mean Business announced that in total, 471 companies with over $8 trillion in market capitalization have undertaken well over a thousand ambitious commitments to climate action.
These companies represent every sector and geography globally.
The Science Based Targets initiative continues to see tremendous momentum since Paris. To date, almost 200 companies have joined the initiative, and in the past year, growth has been at a rate of more than two new companies per week.
At COP 22, the Indian company Dalmia Cement and Helvetia insurance group committed to use 100% renewable power across their operations and join RE100; the global, collaborative initiative with more than 80 of the world’s most influential companies.
Swiss Re committed to double its energy productivity and join EP100, a global campaign that works with companies to maximize the economic benefits of every unit of energy it consumes.
A new private-sector led initiative, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), was announced. REBA builds connections between corporate electricity demand and renewable energy supply.
Cities, towns and regions are making big impacts in implementing their climate commitments by acting locally and partnering globally.
A new assessment tool presented during the Resilience Showcase will allow standardized qualitative reporting of adaptation commitments to the Global Covenant of Mayors.
The Government of Indonesia announced it is implementing a moratorium on clearing super high-carbon, intact peatland. The action builds on Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s announcement at last year’s Forest Action Day in Paris, to end new and review existing peat concessions.
Colombia has announced plans to close the forest frontier as a key component of a post-conflict future. Efforts include focusing development on non-forest lands, implementing strong tenure reform, and placing very large areas of forest under indigenous peoples’ control.
A new partnership between FAO and Google has created Collect Earth, an open-source tool that provides access to large collections of free, high-resolution satellite imagery and cloud computing
The Water for Africa initiative, established by the Kingdom of Morocco and supported by the African Development Bank was launched at COP 22, aiming to render justice to Africa through the adoption of a specific action plan that will mobilize different international political, financial and institutional partners.
The three alliances for basins, megacities and businesses, created at COP 21, which today represent more than 450 organizations worldwide, signed a common commitment to mobilize jointly their partners, identify and disseminate good practices and support the development of new projects.
The Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI) is supporting an additional 40 countries to realize the financial benefits and CO2 benefits of improved vehicle fuel economy.
Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme now has 173 certified airports worldwide, including 26 carbon-neutral airports – 36% of air passengers now travel through an Airport Carbon Accredited airport.
The MobiliseYourCity initiative secured EUR35 million in funding over the last 12 months and launched development of Sustainable Urban Mobility plans in Morocco and Cameroon.
The Kingdom of Morocco has announced its Blue Belt Initiative aimed at building the resilience of coastal communities and promoting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture in keeping with SDG14 expectations.
FAO, World Bank and the African Development Bank announced the African Package for Climate-Resilient Ocean Economies, an ambitious package of technical and financial assistance to support ocean economies in Africa and build greater resilience to climate change in coastal areas.
COP 22 Ocean Action partners released the Strategic Action Roadmap on Oceans and Climate: 2016 to 2021, which provides a vision for action on oceans and climate in the next five years, addressing six oceans.
Launch of the Adaptation for African Agriculture initiative aims to build the resilience of farmers in Africa by promoting sustainable soil management, better water management and risk management linked with tailored capacity development, policies and funding mechanisms.
Launch of The Global Framework on Water Scarcity supports countries to integrate climate change and sustainable water use into agricultural sectors policies and cross-sectoral dialogue.
130 mayors from cities across the world signed the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact (MUFPP), which calls for sustainable food systems that foster the accessibility of healthy food for urban citizens, biodiversity protection and food waste reduction.
Cover picture: FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images