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What to Watch at COP22 in Marrakech

WRI experts Yamide Dagnet, Cynthia Elliott, Joe Thwaites and Eliza Northrop contributed to this post.


The Paris Agreement, reached on December 12, 2015, was a moment of international optimism as countries around the globe committed to move toward a zero-carbon, and climate-resilient future. Less than a year later, with that agreement’s unexpectedly lightning-fast entry into force, the world is gathering in Marrakech to take up the next challenge: charting a course to take the vision from Paris and bring it fully to life.

COP22, the UNFCCC climate meeting in Morocco from November 7 – 18, is a critical moment for meeting that challenge. The focus must be on action and implementation, putting the world on a path that can raise ambition for climate action, ensuring countries have the support they need to pursue the transformational future envisioned in the Paris Agreement.

Here are four issues to watch:

1) CMA1: First Meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement

The Paris Agreement’s entry into force on November 4 sets the stage for the important first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, known as CMA1, which will start on November 15 in conjunction with COP22. Made up of Parties that have joined the Agreement, the CMA (shorthand for the cumbersome Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement) becomes the Agreement’s governing body.

Rapid entry into force and the broad, deep political support that made it possible mean that decisions about how to implement the Agreement and adopt its core rules and processes must now move forward at a faster pace, and it will be essential to decide on a timetable for making these key decisions.

Because the Paris Agreement requires CMA1 to decide critical issues about implementation, this first post-Paris meeting will likely be extended beyond COP22 to allow adequate time to reach clear outcomes in an inclusive manner. Many countries that want to join the Agreement are still going through domestic processes so need more time to be able to formally become Parties to it and participate in CMA meetings. One option would be to have work continue under the COP’s Ad-hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement, enabling countries that have not yet joined the Agreement to actively participate.

2) Progress on Rules and Process

In Marrakech, to make the framework of the Paris Agreement a reality, participants will need to make headway in designing the rules and processes for implementation that CMA1 must agree – including rules on transparency and accountability, the process for taking stock of progress and for enhancing mitigation and adaptation action every five years, and the ways support will be mobilized and provided. Putting those rules and processes in place is critical to ensure that action in countries is robust, ambitious and increases over time.

At Marrakech, countries can make important headway in discussing these issues and setting out an inclusive process. It will be critical to set a firm end-date for CMA1 in order to provide clarity about when key decisions will be concluded, ideally no later than 2018.

3) Promoting Ambition

Putting in place a process to raise climate ambition needs to be a key outcome of COP22. So far, current national plans are not enough to stay within 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) or well below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) of warming above pre-industrial levels, while many opportunities for climate action that provide economic and development benefits have not yet been taken.

At Paris, countries agreed to create a key moment in 2018 – a facilitative dialogue to take stock – to serve as a springboard for enhanced action, including new or updated national climate plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), by 2020. While decisions on exactly how the 2018 process will proceed may not be decided this year, COP22 can create a process that can help to start outlining how 2018 will be conducted.

This would be important to make 2018 both the year to decide on the rules and processes for the Paris Agreement, as well as when the world comes together again to assess where we stand collectively in terms of meeting our collective target and lay plans for increasingly decisive action to deliver on it.

4) Galvanizing Implementation

COP22 is also a critical moment to ensure that action will move forward on the ground in countries and by a wide range of non-state actors. Shifting finance to meet low-carbon and climate resilience objectives is key to making that happen. The recently released roadmap for mobilizing $100 billion in climate finance by 2020 shows a positive upward trend in climate finance and that, with continued concerted action, the goal is within reach.

The Marrakech meeting offers a chance to reassure developing countries of that, while more can be done to ensure that financing is accessible and that support for adaptation in particular will grow. COP22 is also the moment when key steps will be taken to build and mobilize the capacity of developing countries. The new Paris Committee on Capacity Building will offer initiatives to support countries in their journey toward a decarbonized world. These are essential to enable all countries to implement their NDCs and scale up their efforts.

Beyond that, much of the work at COP22 will take place outside the negotiations. Countries will need to take serious steps to implement their NDCs on both mitigation and adaptation and to enhance their action over time. WRI is working with Germany and Morocco to support and strengthen implementation of countries’ national climate action plans. The NDC Partnership, which will be formally launched at COP22, will ensure countries get the tools and support they need to achieve ambitious climate and sustainable development goals.

Action by cities, businesses and many others will also be essential to achieving the Paris Agreement’s objectives. The UNFCCC’s Global Climate Action platform (GCA) highlights many of the steps these non-state actors can take, and strengthening the GCA framework could be an important accomplishment at Marrakech. Regional initiatives such as the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative are also critical to mobilizing action.

COP22 is no time for complacency. It can be a moment to build on the momentum created in Paris and nurtured since then to create a zero-emissions and climate resilient

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