by Alexander Pfeiffer and Elizabeth Dirth
The COP 22 kicked off today in Marrakech and I flew in from Amsterdam on a red-eye flight, leaving at 6 am. Despite my early arrival I didn’t get to see much of the actual events that happened during the first-day of the COP. Immigration, transit from the airport, and finding your ways in Marrakech takes quite a while and after I checked in my hotel, made my way to the COP area, and got my accreditation the opening was unfortunately already over — luckily, however, the UNFCCC has live streams and transcripts of all relevant speeches so I didn’t miss the most important parts.
Just a few days after the Paris agreement entered into force the next step in this journey to save the world from dangerous climate change has to be made in Marrakech at the COP 22. While the Paris agreement is seen widely as a huge leap forward in this process it still has big gaps and open questions that need to be answered. Hence it made sense that Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) said in her opening address that, even though the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement is a clear cause for celebration, it also reminds us of the high expectations that are now placed on the parties: “Achieving the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement is not a given. We have embarked on an effort to change the course of two centuries of carbon-intense development. The peaking of global emissions is urgent, as is attaining far more climate-resilient societies.”
She then continued to lay out the 5 most important areas she sees for the now running COP:
- Sufficient finance to allow developing countries to leapfrog ‘dirty development’ and sustainably develop their economies and build resilience.
- Nationally determined contributions (NDCs), which are national climate action plans, that now need to be integrated into national policies and investment plans.
- Support for adaptation which needs to be given higher priority, and progress on the loss and damage mechanism to safeguard development gains in the most vulnerable communities.
- Capacity building for developing countries that is both tailored and specific to their needs.
- Fully engaging non-party stakeholders, from the North and from the South, as they are central to the global action agenda for transformational change.
She concluded that “our work here in Marrakech must reflect our new reality. No politician or citizen, no business manager or investor can doubt that the transformation to a low-emission, resilient society and economy is the singular determination of the community of nations.”
Also Morocco’s Foreign Minister and newly-elected COP22 President Salaheddine Mezouar re-emphasized his country’s willingness to host the conference as a demonstration of Africa’s commitment as a whole to contribute to global efforts to tackle climate change. He positively acknowledged the momentum building around the world but the same time also didn’t ignore the fact that the Paris Agreement does not yet put the world on track towards the goal of a maximum global average temperature of 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius.
Addressing the attending government delegates he said: “I would like to invite you over the coming eleven days to be more ambitious than ever in your commitments. All over the world, public opinion must perceive change. It has to be a change at all levels, from local projects through to those that cross international borders and it must create genuine win-win partnerships.”
Alex Pfeiffer is the head of Young European Leadership’s delegation to the COP and a doctorate student at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) at the Oxford Martin School
Elizabeth Dirth is a delegate in Young European Leadership’s delegation to the COP and the current chair of the 2050 Climate Group
See also our daily video blog from the COP: Young European Leadership at COP22 day 1