Less than a year ago, 195 countries came out of Paris with an agreement that marked a clear path to reducing emissions. The Paris Agreement drew record media attention to the climate change issue. One year later, in which temperatures and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have beaten previous records, the Agreement comes into force (4 November) and the countries are meeting again, this time in Marrakech (Conference of the Parties — COP22), to detail how to achieve the goal of limiting global warming.
What COP22 is expected to achieve
During the two weeks of COP22, between 7 and 18 November, governments, NGOs, companies and civil society will debate issues relating to energy, water, the oceans, forests, cities, transport, gender, agriculture and food security.
This climate summit is important as it will define the rules to be followed; though this work is not so appealing, it is absolutely essential. After the political support achieved in Paris, COP22 must flesh out the technical details of the commitments contained in the Paris Agreement. At this summit, the countries are expected to strengthen a number of areas, the most important of which are summarised below:
1. The countries' individual commitments (Nationally Determined Contributions - NDCs)
With the current NDCs, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that the world's average temperature will rise by 2.7 ºC with respect to pre-industrial levels by 2100, i.e. breaching the Paris Agreement, which adopted a 2ºC cap and undertook to work towards achieving 1.5 ºC.
A transparent mechanism is needed to review the climate objectives and assess the mitigation and adaptation aspects that must be taken into account. Existing climate plans have different deadlines and use different baseline years, and not all envisage adaptation measures; the comparability achieved with the NDCs will make it possible to see which countries need to be more ambitious.
The investments to be made by developed countries in developing countries have yet to be defined. Many countries have made their contributions conditional on funding and technology facilities. This summit should also make progress with the developed countries' contributions to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), created to finance mainly climate change mitigation and adaptation measures by developing countries. To understand this section, it is necessary to consider the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" (CBDR), under which developed countries bear the funding burden since they have contributed to global warming to a greater extent.
4. Fossil fuel subsidies, markets and carbon pricing
COP22 faces the challenge of materialising the transition towards a green economy by making carbon markets more stable, supporting carbon pricing and fostering the phase-out of fossil fuels (oil, natural gas and coal), shifting investments towards renewable energy.
After 20 years of climate negotiations, the Paris Agreement brought 195 countries together in their determination to combat climate change. In 2016, thanks to the extension of the Montreal Protocol, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), whose global warming potential is thousands of times greater than that of carbon, are to be eliminated. Great progress has been made, but much remains to be done: to change our model of producing and consuming, it is necessary to nurture the political momentum and take urgent action to decarbonise the economy.