Just days ago, the Paris Agreement entered into force. Today, the first meeting of the Parties to that landmark climate Agreement begins in Marrakech. Referred to as CMA1 (shorthand for the cumbersome first Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement), this gathering opens a new chapter in international climate action. The CMA will be the Agreement’s governing body and be responsible for making key decisions and driving implementation forward.

Holding CMA1 less than a year after the Paris Agreement was adopted last December is an extraordinary achievement. 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. It will be essential for CMA1 to decide on a clear timetable for making these decisions by 2018.

What Decisions Will Be Made at CMA1?

CMA1 will begin by making a number of procedural decisions necessary for its operation as the governing body of the Paris Agreement. These include adopting rules and procedures for decision making and determining how it will align with other bodies under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). While CMA1 is also tasked with making substantive decisions on the rules and processes for implementation of the Paris Agreement, these won’t be concluded at Marrakech because more discussion and negotiation among Parties will be needed. Important progress has been made in the first week of COP22 at Marrakech, but getting these crucial technical details right takes time.

Why Won’t CMA1 Close at COP22?

Countries are likely to agree to extend this first meeting over the next couple of years (referred to as suspension). There are two reasons for this:

• First, many countries that still plan to join the Paris Agreement have not yet been able to. Extending CMA1 for a year or two allows all parties that desire to participate in CMA1 to do so.

• The Paris Agreement requires that the rules and processes for implementation be adopted at CMA1. The development of these important technical details should not be rushed, but rather developed in an inclusive and robust manner that creates a space for all countries to be heard. Global ownership of these rules and processes will be the key to successful implementation.

Why is it Important that CMA1 Closes in 2018?

It is reasonable for negotiators to need time to complete negotiations and finalize the rules and processes under the Paris Agreement, but it is critical that these negotiations do not extend indefinitely. Given that, it is important for negotiations to conclude in 2018. Two years provides sufficient time for robust decision making, but also maintains the focus needed to conclude in a timely manner well ahead of 2020, the point when countries will have the opportunity to update their national climate plans.

Having a clear, common deadline is critical to ensure negotiations remain targeted and focused and the rules and processes form a comprehensive package that maximizes the many interlinkages between elements of the Paris Agreement such as the enhanced transparency framework, global stocktake and national climate plans.

The commitment and participation of all countries is what made the Paris Agreement such a success, and we should ensure this continues as countries turn to the more technical process of developing the rules and processes to guide implementation. CMA1 can play a key role in ensuring a clear and credible road map to design and adopt a robust, effective implementation package by no later than 2018.