COP22: Many proclamations but still little action
“Parole, parole, parole, soltanto parole, parole tra noi.” (“Words, words, words, just words between us”).
Recalling the famous song by Mina might sounds trivial, but it may clearly sum up the results of the UN Conference on Climate (COP22), which ended last November 19th.
The incitement to act, recalled anywhere in Marrakech – flags, stickers and banners- and proclaimed by Salaheddine Mezouar, Moroccan foreign minister and president of the Conference, created many expectations for making this event the “Action COP”- Such expectations gained momentum thanks to the immediate entry into force of the Paris Agreement. Marrakech, in fact, hosted the first meeting between the parties which signed the Agreement (CMA), the organ which is in charge of putting into force the objectives of climate mitigation, adaptation and finance, established last year in Paris.
Marrakech was called to realize all of this. However, instead of providing concrete provisions, it just proposed their procedures and work plans. It would have established in which way countries will monitor their efforts to reduce the greenhouse (Nationally Determined Contributions), it would have elaborated a work plan for technological development and revision process for analysing the actual state of the Agreement.
Almost none of these points were established in Marrakech. Concerning difficult and politically delicate mechanisms, it will be necessary to wait for the next negotiations, expected in 2018, for reaching their finalization.
So what are the main results achieved at the Conference?
Let’s try to make a first evaluation. The COP22 witnessed the approval, by the 196 countries which participated in the conclusive assembly, of a political document: “Marrakech Action Proclamation For Our Climate and Sustainable Development”
Presented by the Moroccan foreign minister, it is a short document signed by the heads of State and Government at the Conference, which aims at “setting the pace toward a new era for the implementation and action on climate and sustainable development issues.
“This document recalls the urgency for a concrete response on climate change and the necessity for a definite implementation of the Paris Agreement. The entry into force of the Agreement itself, ratified in almost record time, highlights the beginning of a process recognized as “irreversible”. Many observers interpreted such expression as a response to the recent election of Donald Trump and his pseudo-negationist statements on climate change and even his (ill-concealed) wish to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. it is, in truth, a remote possibility inasmuch the agreement is technically bounding for the first four years from its entry into force. In this sense, several interventions during the COP22 aimed at mitigating the idea of Trump eventual step back.
The Proclamation, recalling the solidarity towards vulnerable countries, further restated the necessity for increasing financial resources and access modalities, with the aim of reaching 100 billion dollars per year, within 2020, established in Paris. The Global Climate Found, created in 2010, is the institution which should collect such resources.
Despite the several declarations of commitment released during the Ministerial Dialogue on climate finance, developing countries’ expectations are far from being fulfiled.
The good news is the achievement of reaching 80 million dollars for the Adaptation Fund (established by the COP22 to assist the Paris Agreement) favoured by Germany, Sweden, Italy and Belgium. On the other side, the bad news is that it will not compensate adaptation costs, which the United Nation Environmental Program (UNEP) estimated between 140 and 300 million per year.
Alongside with the summary document there were other documents by subsidiary bodies and work teams, which were adopted to implement the Paris Agreement. Outside of the negotiation tables, a substantial result was achieved thanks to the dedication of Laurence Tubiana, French ambassador for climate change, and of Hakima El Haite, Moroccan Minister for Energy, Mines, Water and Environment, who lunched the “Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action” (link).
It is an action plan aimed at enhancing the role of non-national actors, like regions and cities, in mitigation and adaptation actions, as well as supporting their efforts in the period between 2017 and 2020.
Regions and cities are not only the core for economic development at national level, but they are also, according to IPCC(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) responsible for 49% of global greenhouse emissions. At the same time, local governments themselves have the major responsibility to protect their citizens from climate change impacts. At local level, in fact, it is possible to address issues like transportation, public and private construction, territorial and refuse management. Such actions could contribute to the reduction of greenhouse emissions and push, at the same time, for adequate adaptation policies intended to protect citizens.
Scientific data clearly show how improbable is the objective of maintaining global warming within the 1.5°C -2° range. This threshold does not seem plausible.
Therefore, adaptation is now the main imperative, even if efforts can and must be improved in order to reach, as soon as possible, the greenhouse emission peak and proceed to the further objective of zero emission. Reductions in China and in the United States, in 2015, clearly show that the change is possible! In this sense, it is of a crucial importance breaking through and urgently involving both funds and technologies needed for adaptation policies and for facilitating the energetic transaction towards the total de-carbonization, especially in developing countries.
Interventions and efforts in Marrakech do not seem to seriously put into question the global economic and consumption model, which is a core issue in the human action against climate change.
No comments of criticism had been raised on the role of multinationals and unilateral commercial agreements, which not only seriously undermine the energetic and food sovereignty of many countries, but also oppose climate policies and the authentic development of the population.
The role of the civil society, of social movements and NGOs, of associations and especially of the youth was of essential value for monitoring the processes and pushing the governments, particularly the Italian one, for taking more ambitious commitments in the light of the common good and of the peoples who they represent.
Time is running out, it is time to urgently act for taking care of our common home that is this only Heart which hosts us.