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THE MARRAKECH CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE

By Alfred Gichu 

 

Background:

The Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted in 2015 established a new framework for global climate change efforts combining Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) with new multilateral mechanisms. The Agreement which became effective in November 2016 has defined parties’ basic obligations and establishes new procedures and mechanisms. 

For the new procedures and mechanisms to be fully operational, their details require to be further elaborated and adoption by parties of an extensive set of decisions known as the Paris Rulebook. Decisions are required on a wide range of topics, including mitigation, adaptation, finance, transparency, a new “global stock take” process, market mechanisms, and implementation and compliance. The responsibility for developing these decisions was delegated to the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA), the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technology Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI).

 

The Marrakech Conference:

The 22nd UN Climate Change Conference (COP 22) convened from 3rd-19th November 2016, in Marrakech, Morocco. The Conference included the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the 12th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12), and the first session of the Conference of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1). Three subsidiary bodies of the convention also met; the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 45), the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 45), and the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA).

During the Conference Parties 35 decisions were adopted including: 

•Guidance on the implementation of the Agreement and that the Adaptation Fund, established by Kyoto Protocol, should serve the Agreement; 

•Strengthened party commitment to the implementation of the Agreement through the Nationally Determined Contributions and Cooperative approaches; 

•approval of  the work plan of the Warsaw International Mechanism to address loss and damage associated with impacts of climate change; 

•long-term finance of mitigation and adaptation activities, including guidance to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Global Environment Facility (GEF); 

At the end of the conference, Parties adopted the Marrakech Action Proclamation to signal a shift towards a new era of implementation and action on climate and sustainable development. The proclamation welcomes the Paris Agreement, its rapid entry into force, its ambitious goals, its inclusive nature and its reflection of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Key Features of the Proclamation:

•Necessity for rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement with its ambitious goals, its inclusive nature and its reflection of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities. 

•Commitment to full implementation of the Paris Agreement which reflects different national circumstances and capabilities ;

•Increased volume, flow and access to finance for climate projects, alongside improved capacity and technology. 

•Developed Country Parties commitment to $100 billion mobilization goal. 

•Ratification of the Doha Amendment by Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, with its focus on pre-2020 action.

•Increased ambition and strengthening of cooperation among countries to close the gap between current emissions trajectories. 

•Strengthened support to eradicate poverty, ensure food security and to deal with climate change challenges in agriculture.

•Solidarity with countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and the  need to support efforts aimed at enhancing their adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability; 

 

The following summary covers the main areas of discussion by Parties in elaborating the Paris rulebook.

 

Mitigation

The Paris decision calls for further guidance to parties on the the features of NDCs, information to be provided by parties when communicating future NDCs, and accounting of their NDCs. 

Discussions in Marrakech revolved around how to develop guidance that takes into account the different types of NDCs that parties have proposed. While some developing countries argued that in some areas, such as up-front information, requirements should be different for developed and developing countries, developed countries strongly argued for a standard requirement.

 

Adaptation

Within the APA, parties began discussing the periodic adaptation communications they are encouraged to submit under the Paris Agreement. Discussions were on the possible elements of these communications and their potential links to the transparency system and the global stock take. 

 

Finance

The Paris Agreement requires developed countries to provide biennial reports on financial support provided through public interventions, and on projected levels of future support. 

In Marrakech, SBSTA began considering how to account for public finance. Issues included whether the accounting should apply only to flows from developed to developing countries or to broader flows of public finance globally.

 

Transparency

The Paris Agreement established an enhanced transparency framework with reporting and review obligations for all parties and built-in flexibility for developing countries with limited capacity. Marrakech discussions were mainly on whether the flexibility built into the Paris framework which is different for developing and developed countries should continue. Developed countries have adamantly refused this approach.

 

Global Stock take

The Paris Agreement establishes a global stock take every five years starting in 2023 to assess collective progress toward the Agreement’s long-term goals. The stock takes will set the stage for parties’ submission of successive rounds of NDCs.

 In Marrakech, parties began discussing how to structure the stock take, including its format, inputs, timeline, duration, and output, and its linkage to other elements of the Paris architecture.

Implementation and Compliance

The Paris Agreement established a 12-member expert committee to facilitate implementation and promote compliance. 

In Marrakech, the APA began considering issues on:

•The scope of the mechanism – for example, whether it will consider only parties’ binding obligations or the achievement of NDCs, which are not binding;

•How the mechanism will be triggered – for example, whether a party can ask the committee to examine another party’s compliance; and

•How parties’ varied circumstances and capabilities will be taken into account.

Market and Non-Market Mechanisms

The Marrakech Conference began consideration of two market-related provisions of the Paris Agreement: a requirement that parties using Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs) to meet their NDCs ensure no double counting of transferred units; and the creation of a new mechanism contributing to mitigation and sustainable development that may, generate tradable emission units. 

Parties also began exploring what a framework for non-market approaches would encompass. Ideas included some type of coordination of policies such as feed-in tariffs and fossil fuel subsidy reforms. 

 

 

OTHER MARRAKECH OUTCOMES

Beyond developing the Paris rulebook, parties took actions on a range of other issues, including:

 

Adaptation Fund

 Parties decided the Adaptation Fund should serve the Paris Agreement pending decisions on governance and other issues.

 

Mid-century Strategies

 In Marrakech, Canada, Germany, Mexico, and the United States became the first countries to submit what have come to be known as mid-century strategies. A new initiative called the 2050 Pathway Platform was launched, with support from a broad array of national governments, cities, states, and companies, to help other countries develop their own mid-century strategies.

 

Loss and Damage

Parties conducted the first review of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM). The mechanism, established as an interim body at COP 19 and subsequently brought under the Paris Agreement, is charged with developing approaches to help vulnerable countries cope with unavoidable climate impacts, including extreme weather events and slow-onset events such as sea-level rise.  

 

 

 

 

 

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