The Marrakesh climate change conference was held in Bab Ighli, Marrakesh, Morocco on November 7-18, 2016. The conference took place right after the Paris Agreement on Climate Change entered into force on November 4, 2016. The conference in Morocco is the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) of the United Nations (U.N.) Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 12th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. Moreover, as a result of the rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the event is the first U.N. conference on climate change after the formal entry into force of the Paris Agreement. 20 thousand delegates, including heads of states and governments, ministers, heads of international organizations, representatives of environmental agencies and energy companies, monitoring agencies, experts, businessmen and journalists attended the conference (ТАСС, 2016).
After the adoption of the Paris Agreement, it was expected to apply it starting from 2020. However, surprisingly, the process got started much earlier due to rapid ratification. In this light, the Marrakesh conference served as the first step towards implementation of the long negotiated Paris Agreement as it was the next logical move following the ratification of the document. Therefore, it is aimed at accelerating and amplifying response to the Paris Agreement. The main objective of the conference was development of specific measures of implementation of the Paris climate agreement. Other main areas of focus of the meeting are understanding of main issues regarding the implementation of the Paris Agreement and differentiating convergences and divergences between the situations in different countries (C2ES, 2016).
The Marrakesh conference has faced some issues. So, transition from theory to practice has proven to be complicated one, mainly due to differences between developed and developing countries, as the countries are determined to use different approaches to tackle the climate change. Nevertheless, according to the commissioner of COP-22, Abdeladim al-Hafi, the Marrakesh meeting enabled all countries to join into the process of fight against global warming in a specific way despite their differences (ТАСС, 2016). Another difficulty has arisen due to the fact that other than being held in the shadow of ratification and entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the conference was also held under the shadow of the U.S. presidential elections. Donald Trump’s election as the next U.S. president was one of the main concerns of the meeting as Trump has promised to develop traditional fossil fuels energy and to abandon the Paris Agreement during his election campaign.
Despite difficulties, it is important to keep fighting against global warming as the effects of climate change are becoming more apparent day by day. For instance, 2016 is expected to be the hottest year on the record of human history. According to preliminary data, the average global temperature has exceeded the pre-industrial indicators by 1.2 oC (Радио ООН, 2016). Besides, about two-thirds of the world population, even in the developed countries, suffer from the water scarcity which is amplified by climate change and population growth. In this light, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has prepared a report named “Global warming of 1.5 °C”, according to which, in order to have a 50% chance to deter temperature on the planet, it is necessary to achieve zero emissions by 2045-2050 (Подосенова, 2016).
Taking account the current environmental situation in the world, at the opening ceremony of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, noted that adaptation to climate change is an investment in the future and highlighted the importance of transforming the Paris Agreement into concrete plan of actions in order to begin implementation of the agreement. A wide range of issues was discussed during the conference: response to the risks related to climate change, depletion of water resources, reduction of forest covers, degradation of arable areas, growth of urban population, food security, agricultural adaptation to new environmental challenges, migration, exacerbated by climatic changes and finally, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and water energy.
The Paris Agreement does not oblige countries who have ratified the document to take any concrete measures. Unfortunately, legally binding commitments were not reached during the course of the Marrakech conference either. As mentioned earlier, the Marrakesh conference was supposed to result into a writing of a “rule book” with guidelines of implementation of the Paris Agreement. However, unfortunately, the parties were not able to achieve a progress in this matter, they postponed the finalization process to 2018 instead. Nevertheless, some progress was reached as a result of the meeting.
One of the most important decisions made at the conference is an intent to abandon using coal by 2050 in 48 countries (Подосенова, 2016). Moreover, since not all of the impacts of climate change are irreversible, a five-year plan on “loss and damage” was set to start in 2017 (Yeo, 2016). As for funding, it is planned to attract $100 billion dollars into the Green Fund annually by 2020 in order to support climate projects in developing countries, especially the African states (ТАСС, 2016). As for now, the Green Fund announced about the approval of the first two proposals for the development of national adaptation plans for $2.2 million in Liberia and $2.9 million in Nepal. Climate adaptation plans of 20 more countries in the amount of $3 million each are expected to be approved in the near future as well. Moreover, the U.S., the U.K. and Germany have allocated $50 million to improve the carbon accounting systems in developing countries as the developing countries are the most vulnerable ones. Germany is also to contribute $80 million to the Adaptation Fund. Countries pledged to allocate over $23 million for technology development and transfer (Подосенова, 2016).
Despite the absence of expected outcomes, the main result of the event is the first steps towards practical potential of the Paris Agreement that will hopefully lead from negotiations and paperwork to actions. For instance, a number of developed countries including Canada, Germany, Mexico and the U.S. have already announced a revision of their national climate plans, while the developing countries have presented updated versions of national plans aimed at reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Coalition of developing and developed countries, the main objective of which is to provide technical and financial support, is to be created. Finally, following the conference in Marrakech nearly 200 countries adopted a joint declaration, the Marrakech Action Proclamation, stating their commitment to the Paris Agreement (Радио ООН, 2016). According to the Foreign Minister of Morocco, Salaheddine Mezuar, the document was adopted unanimously. By the end of the Marrakesh conference, 111 countries responsible for over 75% of global CO2 emissions ratified the agreement (C2ES, 2016).
The next meeting in order to negotiate and discuss the issues and most importantly, to review progress is to be held in Bonn, Germany in May, 2017. While the next COP23 will also be held in Bonn, Germany under the presidency of Fiji on November 5-16, 2017 (C2ES, 2016).
C2ES (2016). Outcomes of the U.N. climate change conference in Marrakesh. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. Retrieved from http://www.c2es.org/international/negotiations/cop22-marrakech/summary
Yeo, S. (2016). COP22: Key outcomes agreed at the UN climate talks in Marrakesh. CarbonBrief. Retrieved from https://www.carbonbrief.org/cop22-key-outcomes-agreed-at-un-climate-talk…
Подосенова, О. (2016). СОР22: Конференция действий. Bellona. Retrieved from http://bellona.ru/2016/11/22/cop22-total/
Радио ООН (2016). Участники конференции в Марракеше подтвердили решимость бороться с изменением климата. Радио ООН. Retrieved from
Радио ООН (2016). 2016 год побьет рекорды глобального потепления. Радио ООН. Retrieved from http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/russian/archives/231250/#.WEpJz7KLSUk
ТАСС (2016). В Марокко открывается всемирная конференция Оон по изменению климата. ТАСС. Retrieved from http://tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/3762131
*Published in the January 2017 No. 13 issue of the “Asya Avrupa: Haber-Yorum” journal.
Note: The views expressed in this blog are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the Institute’s editorial policy.
Saule Akhmetkaliyeva was a research fellow in the Eurasian Research Institute at H.A.Yassawi Kazakh Turkish International University. She holds a BS in petroleum engineering from the Kazakh National Technical University named after K.I. Satbayev and a MS in Environmental Science from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi with a GPA of 4.0. Saule has conducted research on new methods of matrix acidizing of carbonate formations in Karachaganak field, Kazakhstan for her bachelor’s degree, and a research on advanced sedimentary analysis of sediments from Marmara Gölü, Turkey for her master’s thesis.