The 22nd Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) is being held in Marrakech, from November 7 to 18, 2016. This international climate conference will focus on action items in order to achieve the priorities of the Paris Agreement, especially related to adaptation, transparency, technology transfer, mitigation, capacity building and loss and damages. For Salaheddine Mezouar, President of COP22, this conference is an “opportunity to make the voices of the most vulnerable countries to climate change heard, in particular African countries and island states. It is urgent to act on these issues linked to stability and security,” he declared. Signatories to The Paris Agreement now have to develop their National Adaptation Plans.
Ratification of the Paris Agreement
In order to enter into force, the Paris Agreement, adopted on December 12, 2015 in Paris, had to be ratified by at least 55 Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) accounting for 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. On September 21, 2016, on the sidelines of the 71st UN General Assembly, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon invited the Parties to a special event in New York in order to fast-track the ratification of the Agreement. Up to now, 31 countries deposited their instruments of ratification crossing the first threshold of 55 Parties. The second threshold of 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions required for this entry into force was crossed on October 5, 2016, with the deposit at the United Nations of the instruments of ratification by the European Union, which counts as 1 party, along with seven of its member states namely Hungary, France, Slovakia, Austria, Malta, Portugal and Germany in addition to Nepal. Thirty days later, on November 2016, the Paris Agreement came into force on the eve of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UNFCCC.
COP22: Cop of Action
Over the next two weeks, world leaders and climate negotiators will address three main issues: carbon accounting, nationally determined contributions and finance.
- Carbon accounting refers to the reporting of countries’ total carbon emissions. Before Paris, emissions reports have often been irregular. In fact, some developing and least developed countries did not report emissions at all, according to Yamide Dagnet, Senior Associate for the World Resources Institute. One of the benefits of the Paris Agreement is that nations will now track emissions through regular reports from those who have ratified the agreement. However, the Paris Agreement offers little guidance in the way of standardized reporting methods for participating countries—a nonetheless essential detail for comparing emissions numbers and accurately tracking progress. At COP22, Dagnet hopes to see negotiators establish clear terms for exactly what countries must include in their emissions reports.
- Aside from simply establishing how many greenhouse gas emissions have been released into the atmosphere, carbon accounting helps keep track of countries’ Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) goals. One result of the Paris Agreement is that countries each have determined their own voluntary contributions to the ultimate global emissions reduction goal. Negotiators will have to remain open to keeping each other accountable, exhibiting dedication to the agreement without giving the sense that the commitments are overly imposing.
- Finance is one matter concerning all countries attending the discussions at COP22. In Paris, COP 21 determined that existing funds under the Financial Mechanism of the Convention will serve the agreement and its proposals. These funds include the Green Climate Fund, Green Energy Fund, the Least Developed Countries Fund, and the Special Climate Change Fund, according to the UNFCCC website. In addition to having these funds “serve the agreement,” the Paris Agreement reinforced the additional goal, originally agreed upon in Copenhagen in 2009, to have $100 billion per year by 2020 in collective contributions, which will assist developing countries in reaching their emissions reduction targets. But Who will pay how much — and where will the funding go first? The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) is one of the U.N. climate convention’s primary bodies determining how funds are spent. One of its key responsibilities is ensuring that the funds are spent appropriately. The Subsidiary Body for Implementation will work alongside it to monitor the purpose and use of funds. Countries must also agree on how much of the $100 billion will go toward climate change mitigation, adaptation to already-locked in impacts, and allocation to least developed countries versus developing countries.
Reaching the Paris Agreement’s ambitious target of 1.5°C warming, or even staying below 2°C, will require nations to up their emissions reduction targets far beyond what they have already committed to. For COP22, the ultimate goal is to think critically about the logistics of the Paris Agreement and determine a comprehensive and cohesive framework for success.[number of readers: 730]
A selection of relevant publications from the Peace Palace Library collection
- Asselt, H. van, "International climate change law in a bottom-up world", Questions of International Law = Questioni di diritto internazionale, 2016, pp. 5-15.
- Atapattu, S., Human Rights Approaches to Climate Change : Challenges and Opportunities, Abingdon, Oxon, New York, NY, Routledge, 2016.
- Christiansen, S.M., Climate Conflicts - a Case of International Environmental and Humanitarian Law, Cham, Springer, 2016.(e-book)
- Aydos, Elena de Lemos Pinto, Who is (not) Paying the Carbon Price? : the Subsidisation of Heavy Polluters under Emissions Trading Schemes, Tilburg, Tilburg University, 2016.
- Dong, W., Atlas of Climate Change: Responsibility and Obligation of Human Society, Berlin, Springer, 2016.
- Gippner, O., "The 2 °C target: a European norm enters the international stage following the process to adoption in China", International Environmental Agreements : Politics, Law and Economics, 16 (2016), No. 1, pp. 49-65.
- Kheng-Lian, K., Adaptation to Climate Change : ASEAN and Comparative experiences, Singapore, World Scientific, 2016.
- Lavallée, S. and S. Maljean-Dubois, L'Accord de Paris : fin de la crise du multilate´ralisme climatique ou évolution en clair-obscur?, Revue juridique de l'environnement, 41 (2016), No. 1, pp. 19-36.
- Lemoine-Schonne, M., "La flexibilité de l'Accord de Paris sur les changements climatiques", Revue juridique de l'environnement, 41 (2016), No. 1, pp. 37-55.
- Michelot, A., "La justice climatique et l'Accord de Paris sur le climat", Revue juridique de l'environnement, 41, No. 1, pp. 71-79.
- Olawuyi, D.S., The Human Rights-based Approach to Carbon Finance, Cambridge, United Kingdom, Cambridge University Press, 2016.
- Rajamani, L., Ambition and Differentiation in the 2015 Paris Agreement: Interpretative Possibilities and Underlying Politics, International and Comparative Law Quaterly, 65 (2016), No. 2, pp. 493-514.