16 November 2016
UN Secretary-General, Heads of State Address COP 22
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

At the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, the opening ceremony of the joint high-level segment of the Conference of the Parties (COP), the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) and the CMA took place with dozens of Heads of State in attendance.

In the morning, the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) closed, and the opening plenary of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) convened.

15 November 2016: On Tuesday, the opening ceremony of the joint high-level segment of the Conference of the Parties (COP), the COP serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) and the CMA took place. In the morning, the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) closed, and the opening plenary of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) convened. Contact groups and informal consultations under the COP and CMP occurred throughout the day. In the evening, the joint high-level segment continued.

During the opening of the joint high-level segment, which was attended by dozens of Heads of State and Government, delegates heard statements from HRH King of Morocco Mohammed VI, who urged against pressing countries to agree to decisions to which they may be unable to comply. In his address, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that a “new dawn of cooperation on climate change was upon us” with the entry into force of the Paris Agreement. He said that countries supported the Agreement because they realize their own national interest is “best secured by pursuing the common good.” Ban added that low-emissions development and climate resilience will advance all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UN will help countries implement the Agreement. He called on developed countries “to honor their commitment” to mobilize climate finance (US$100 billion by 2020) to help developing countries address climate change. He emphasized lessons learned during his tenure as Secretary-General, including: the importance of multilateral solutions and political leadership; the need to secure the engagement of all actors; and the important role of the UN in championing science and advancing the moral case for action.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that countries support the Paris Agreement because they realize their own national interest is best secured by pursuing the common good.

UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Peter Thomson, Fiji, called for maintaining the momentum in addressing climate change, and not only for future generations as the impacts are felt today by all countries. He said that urgent action on climate change “must be seen as a moral, environmental, scientific and developmental imperative, guided by ambition, action and equity.”

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa called for including business, subnational governments, indigenous peoples, youth, women and other groups in the transformation towards a low-carbon and climate resilient world, emphasizing that their contributions cannot be overlooked.

Mariame Mouhoub, Youth Representative, Morocco, called on delegates to see beyond their differences, and work for a just ecological transition and solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable.

President François Hollande, France, stressed that the entry into force of the Paris Agreement is “irreversible.” He said that the US must respect its climate commitments, adding that France would lead a dialogue with the new President, and that, “despite all our differences, what unites us is what we have in common – our planet.”

COP President Salaheddine Mezouar briefly opened the CMA, describing the entry into force of the Paris Agreement within less than a year of its adoption as a testament to countries’ commitment to addressing climate change. He then adjourned the meeting until Wednesday, 16 November.

In the SBI and SBSTA closing plenaries, conclusions were adopted on the report of the Executive Committee of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) and draft decisions were recommended for the COP’s consideration. In the SBSTA, the Secretariat reported on the financial and budgetary implications of the outcomes, stating that an additional €490,000 would be needed for the core budget in 2017 to organize the roundtable that parties agreed to convene on Paris Agreement Article 6 (cooperative approaches).

In COP informal consultations, discussions continued on: the report of the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF) and review of its functions; initiation of a process to identify information to be provided by parties in accordance with the Paris Agreement; and long-term finance, including on scaling up, ex ante information and the in-session workshop.

On linkages between the Technology Mechanism and the Financial Mechanism of the Convention, parties shared views on revised draft conclusions text, and, following party-only consultations, considered two options: concluding consideration of the agenda item and deciding that future consideration of issues relating to this agenda item will be undertaken under other relevant items; or agreeing to further consider this matter at the “Xth” session. Consultations will continue.

Under the CMP, on matters relating to Joint Implementation, parties agreed to forward the draft decision for consideration by the CMP. On matters relating to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), parties considered draft decision sections on: baseline and monitoring methodologies; registration of project activities and issuance of certified emission reductions (CERs); regional and subregional distribution; the CDM Loan Scheme; and resources for work on the CDM. Much of the text remains bracketed.

During informal consultations on the report of the Adaptation Fund Board, several parties opposed one party’s proposal to “recognize the need to revise the CDM” in order to increase predictability and sustainability of the Adaptation Fund’s resources. One large developing country group suggested “recognizing the need for the Doha Amendment to enter into force” to revive the carbon market. Discussions continued into the evening. [IISD RS Coverage of COP 22] [UN Press Release on Opening of the High-Level Segment] [Statement of the UN Secretary-General] [Remarks of the UN Secretary-General during a Press Conference] [UN Press Release in Advance of High-Level Segment] [Webcast of the Joint High-Level Segment]

Many side events convened throughout the day. At a high-level event on a sustainable economic transition and economic diversification, representatives highlighted: the need for a clear long-term plan, concrete actions and programmes, and timelines in order to ensure an equitable transformation to low-carbon development; a sustainable transition to achieve the Paris Agreement; the need for buy-in from stakeholders working on climate change and sustainable development; EU experiences in green technology innovations; and the World Bank’s commitment to the Middle East and North Africa region. During a closing session, one speaker called for innovative, win-win solutions in diversification that are accessible and beneficial to all, and innovative partnerships to address the challenges posed by diversification, including the loss of jobs. Another characterized the UNFCCC as a platform to exchange ideas, set goals and norms, and evaluate the adequacy of the responses.

Another high-level event addressed the implementation of East Asia countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) in the post-Paris Agreement era, with panelists discussing: the need for transformation of development modalities at the national level; carbon pricing as a critical market instrument to curb emissions and induce investments to low-carbon alternatives; and non-market instruments, including performance oriented regulations, licensing, labeling and certification. The second part of this event: provided an overview of China’s low-carbon development pathway and the Green Partnership among China, Japan and the Republic of Korea; suggested reconsideration of the relationship between infrastructure spending and NDC goals’ alignment; and focused on best practices in low-carbon city pilot projects, with case studies presented from cities in Japan.

During an event on prospects for carbon markets and pricing in Asia, in the context of the international policy framework of the Paris Agreement, panelists stressed that carbon markets and pricing will be one of the key determinants for the success or failure of global efforts to tackle climate change. One stated that the combined CO2 emissions of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea account for one third of global emissions. Participants also underscored: cooperation between China and Japan on carbon market mechanisms; that signals sent by carbon prices change the decision-making process of companies; and coordination of carbon market designs must be addressed before linking different carbon market systems.

Another event focused on SDG 17 (strengthening means of implementation and revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development), and building capacity for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through climate action solutions for regional implementation. Panelists, including representatives of the UN Regional Commissions, stressed: the importance of an integrated framework to pursue climate change challenges together with the SDGs; the effects of climate change on infrastructure, food security and water scarcity; that conflicts in the Arab region prevent the prioritization of climate action; the need to repackage the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and climate action towards structural changes; and a regional initiative in Latin America and the Caribbean to promote public participation mechanisms and climate justice, which will improve climate policies.

A high-level event on advancing global goals on forests and climate change underscored: that the Paris Agreement and the SDGs have ambitious language on forests; the importance of REDD+ in assisting Indonesia in implementing its forest policies and combating illegal logging; Indonesia’s moratorium on new primary forest concessions; infrastructure actions implemented by the Central African Forest Initiative to promote forest conservation and poverty reduction; the small amount of resources dedicated to protecting and enhancing natural carbon systems; the need to improve legality in the supply chain, and establish more monitoring activities; the need to eliminate deforestation from private sector supply chains of palm oil, soy, paper and beef products no later than 2020; and the need to include participation of indigenous peoples, community stakeholders and private sector.

Other side events addressed sand and dust storms, and taking the clean energy transformation from NDCs to action. [IISD RS Coverage of Side Events]

A Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) event focused on GCC efforts to innovate clean technologies to address carbon emissions. A Saudi Aramco representative outlined the process of cleaning gas using amine sweeteners, and drew attention to hydraulic energy recovery skids, which are used to recover and reuse “waste energy.” Other panelists spoke on: the state of global atmospheric CO2 and methane levels and implications for projected climate impacts in GCC countries; and next generation energy efficient lighting, noting that Saudi Arabia is investing in research and development of laser lighting technologies, in which laser beams can be used for light without producing heat. [IISD RS Coverage of GCC Events]

A US Center event discussed innovative adaptation, and how African leaders are tapping state-of-the-art US climate science and data to build resilience. Panelists highlighted: data-sharing collaboration initiatives between NASA and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to provide geospatial technologies to developing countries; efforts to harness data science for enhanced climate resilience; efforts to enhance food security, improve water management, and combat desertification across Sahelian and West African countries; challenges for East Africa in adapting to climate change, such as weak institutional capacity and lack of data; and North-South academic collaboration, which has enabled a record of extreme events globally to be transmitted to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies within two weeks.

Another event addressed climate change with a focus on agriculture, forestry and rural energy. Panelist highlighted: the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry programme, which partners with farmers, land-owners, and businesses to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions and is an important contributor to the US NDC; that implementation of regenerative soil health management systems will sequester carbon and rebuild soils to increase agricultural productivity; that the USDA will reduce emissions by seven million metric tons of nitrous oxide by 2025; and that California has prioritized Climate Smart Agriculture programmes, investing US$180 million in public funds since 2014.

An event on promoting the central role of women in clean energy entrepreneurship and in addressing climate change, participants: underscored that: inefficient lighting and cooking methods contribute to nearly four million deaths each year from respiratory illnesses, affecting women and children in particular; 1.3 billion people still lack access to affordable reliable electricity; clean cooking stoves have co-benefits addressing 10 of the 17 SDGs; a human rights and social justice approach must be adopted when addressing the role of women in the clean energy revolution; women must play a central role in renewable energy policymaking; and the men should be brought into gender inclusion discussions. [IISD RS Coverage of US Center Events]

On 14 November, the 8th Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) High Level Assembly (HLA) convened and was attended by high-level government representatives and heads of non-state partner organizations. The Assembly addressed the implementation of the Paris Agreement by taking advantage of the growing momentum to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), proposing specific action on methane in the oil and gas sector, and on black carbon in the transport sector, as well as by developing national black carbon inventories. Ministers and other high level representatives considered addressing these issues as presented in an outcome document, the Marrakech Communiqué, which calls for two proposed actions on black carbon: to reduce emissions through cleaner diesel fuels and vehicles; and to develop black carbon inventories and projections. It also contains a proposed action to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas operations. [IISD RS Coverage of the 8th CCAC HLA]

A Momentum for Change event showed how smart lighting systems are cutting greenhouse gas emissions and reducing energy costs, by transforming the lighting sector, and replacing old, inefficient technologies. The CEO of Philips Lighting said this technology has the potential to reduce the energy demand from lighting by half, representing 15% of total electricity consumption and 5% of emissions.

Akon, musician and Co-Founder of Akon Lighting Africa, said his organization aims to develop an innovative solar-powered solution that will provide African villages with access to a clean and affordable electricity source. [UNFCCC Press Release] [Momentum for Change Website]

On 14 November, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), released its provisional statement on the status of the global climate in 2016, which states that it is very likely that 2016 will be the hottest year on record, with global temperatures even higher than the record-breaking temperatures seen in 2015. Preliminary data shows that 2016’s global temperatures are around 1.2°C above pre-industrial levels. Long-term climate change indicators also are expected to break records, with: atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations expected to continue to increase to new levels; Arctic sea ice remaining at very low levels; and very early melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The WMO published the provisional statement to inform the Marrakech Climate Change Conference, with the final statement expected in early 2017. For the first time, the assessment includes input from UN partners on humanitarian impacts. [WMO Press Release]

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