One year since the historic Paris Climate Change Agreement, over 20,000 leaders from government, business and civil society met in Marrakech, Morocco for the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22). The two week conference reviewed progress on implementation, produced additional commitments and examined the relationship between the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.
In the beginning, there was a lot of enthusiasm with the ratification of the Paris agreement in a record time just before the negotiations started. However, in the third day of the Conference participants were hit by the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Despite reassuring remarks on the resilience of the Paris Agreement and the possibility of leadership on the local and regional levels, concerns and uncertainty about the future of climate cooperation were present throughout the event.
Some key take aways from the conference are as follows:
- Countries from the global south are setting the bar for ambitious climate action, 47 countries launched plans at the conference to go 100% renewable, including Fiji which will preside over next year’s climate change conference, to be held in Bonn, Germany (home of the UNFCCC).
- The Paris Agreement is bigger than any one country, or particular head of state. The conference coincided with the United States presidential election and there is uncertainty about the involvement of the second largest greenhouse gas emitter going forward. At the conference, other member states acknowledged the risk, but re-affirmed their commitment to combatting climate change. As of now over 114 countries have ratified the historic agreement.
- The Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement reinforce one another. Of the 169 targets embedded in the Sustainable Development Goals, 154 of them are reinforced by the Paris Agreement.
- A common commitment to reach those most in need is also enshrined in both frameworks. A guiding principle for the Sustainable Development Goals is to Leave No One Behind, while the Paris Agreement places unprecedented importance on climate adaptation to help protect the immediate needs of those already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change. COP22 resulted in some meaningful financial commitments for adaptation programs, but there remains a shortfall of funds to help the majority of communities that are most vulnerable to climate change.
- Participants reinforced the importance of data and strong monitoring systems to deliver and raise ambition of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). On that regard, innovative initiatives showed how civil society can support official datasets. As an example, the System Study Greenhouse Gas Emissions Estimates (SEEG), a Climate Observatory initiative, produces annual estimates of emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) in Brazil and analytical documents on the evolution of emissions in the country. On the global level, the INDC Dashboard, developed by the Open Climate Network (OCN) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) provides a snapshot and analysis of current INDCs.
To get involved in civil society programs that help implement and monitor the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement visit www.action4sd.org
To learn more about producing and using citizen-generated data to monitor sustainable development progress, demand accountability and campaign for transformative change visit www.thedatashift.org