4 November 2016, Brussels – UN climate change conference in Marrakech – questions and answers
1. Why another climate change conference?
Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol meet once a year at high level to discuss how to advance international action to combat climate change. Morocco is hosting this year’s conference from 7 to 18 November in Bab Ighli, Marrakech. It will be the UNFCCC’s 22nd ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP 22) and the Kyoto Protocol’s 12th ‘Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties’ (CMP 12).
In December 2015, 195 countries adopted the Paris Agreement on climate change, the world’s first universal, legally binding climate deal. This set out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.
The Paris Agreement enters into force today, 4 November 2016 − 30 days after the EU ratified the deal, passing the legal threshold for it to take effect. To enter into force, at least 55% of countries representing at least 55% of global emissions needed to ratify the agreement.
As a result, the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1) will take place in Marrakech in conjunction with COP 22 and CMP 12.
2. What are the expectations for COP22?
COP22 is set to be an ‘Action and Implementation’ COP. It aims to demonstrate that commitments made in Paris are being implemented, and to act as a catalyst for further action.
Because the global climate agreement has entered into force much earlier than expected, the rules and tools to help countries deliver on the long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement are not yet in place. This means that the work programme established in Paris, and started in Bonn earlier this year, must continue and advance as swiftly as possible.
One of the challenges in Marrakech will be to build on and strengthen the momentum by continuing to ratify the Agreement, and ensuring that the rulebook is developed in a way that is both inclusive and efficient. It must also fully respect the delicate balance achieved in Paris.
The EU expects to see tangible progress on key elements of the Paris package, including on access to finance for developing countries and on developing and strengthening the skills and processes needed in developing countries to implement their domestic climate plans.
Other areas of specific focus include turning national climate plans into concrete policies on the ground, the implementation of the ambition mechanism toprogressively update targets and of the common transparency and accountability system that will enable Parties to track progress against the long-term objective.
The conference will have a strong focus on strengthening climate action before 2020. It will showcase examples of concrete action to demonstrate how the world is moving towards a low-carbon economy. A high-level event on accelerating climate action − the culmination of a series of thematic action events, aiming to demonstrate the progress achieved in the implementation since COP 21− will be held on 17 November.
The EU has a rich side events programme and will host more than 100 events over the two-week conference at the EU Pavilion.
3. What will happen at the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement?
The EU welcomes the fact that the rapid progress on ratification has enabled the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1) to be convened in Marrakech. Never before has an important agreement been ratified so quickly and so widely. This is a strong testament to the political attention and approval that it has received worldwide.
The work plan from Paris was constructed assuming CMA1 would not convene until later. This means the package of implementing decisions to be adopted will still take some time to develop.
Also, since the majority of the Parties have yet to complete their domestic ratification procedures, concluding the work of CMA1 in Marrakech would not do justice to the efforts of all those involved in reaching this unprecedented agreement in Paris last year. Therefore the agenda of CMA1 in Marrakech will be mainly ceremonial, celebrating the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement. The meeting will conclude its work at a later date to guarantee inclusiveness and transparency.
4. Will the Paris Agreement ensure temperature increase stays within the well below 2 degree objective, keeping the 1.5 aim in mind?
In order to achieve the long term goals contained in the Agreement, governments will regularly set or update their emissions reductions targets. In advance of the Paris conference, almost all Parties had presented their ‘intended nationally determined contributions’ – INDCs – covering 5- or 10-year periods starting in 2020.
These national climate action plans, communicated by 190 participating countries to date, will not be sufficient to meet the ambition level required to stay well below 2°C. However, they make a decisive difference in lowering the risks of dangerous changes in the global environment caused by climate change.
Anticipating this shortfall in ambition, the Paris Agreement agreed on an “ambition cycle”, a set of goals, timeframes, commitments, and stocktakes designed to ensure that Parties regularly strengthen their commitments.
Starting from 2023, governments will come together every five years in a ‘global stocktake’, based on latest science and implementation progress to date. The stocktake will set the context for the raising of ambition by all Parties by looking at what has been collectively achieved and what more needs to be done to achieve the below 2°C objective and aiming towards a maximum increase of 1.5°C.
A facilitative dialogue will be held in 2018 to take stock of the collective efforts and to inform the preparation of further contributions. This is particularly important for Parties that have 2025 targets as they are expected to communicate their 2030 targets by 2020.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will publish a special report in 2018 on the implications of a 1.5°C compared to a 2°C increase, which will be a key moment to reflect on the benefits in terms of avoided impacts and reduced risks, as well as the action required for reaching the maximum 1.5°C increase in global temperature.
5. What does the Paris Agreement mean for the EU’s contribution to climate finance for developing countries before 2020?
At the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, developed countries collectively committed to contribute USD 100 billion of climate finance per year from various sources by 2020 in the context of meaningful mitigation action and transparency of implementation. In Paris, the EU and other developed countries committed to continue to provide financial resources to help developing country Parties tackle climate change.
The EU and its Member States are the biggest donors of climate finance to developing countries. In 2014, the EU and it Member States provided €14.5 billion from public sources and development finance institutions. In 2015, the EU and its Members States provided €17.6 billion in climate funding. This demonstrates the EU’s determination to deliver its fair share of the USD100 billion.
The Paris outcome called for a “concrete roadmap” to achieve the USD 100 billion goal. The recently published Climate Finance Roadmap prepared by the donor community indicates that they are on track to meet the ambitious goal. A new collective goal will be set by 2025.
Ministers will discuss how to accelerate access to finance for developing countries during the Marrakesh climate conference.
6. How does the Paris Agreement ensure countries deliver on theircommitments?
In Paris, countries agreed to set up an enhanced transparency framework for action and support to build mutual trust and confidence and to promote effective implementation of commitments under the Agreement. The key task is to make this framework a reality by adopting a good set of detailed rules.
The enhanced transparency framework will help not only the understanding of progress made individually by Parties, but is also critical in providing robust data to support the Global Stocktake and for the assessment of progress towards the long term goals.
The transparency, accountability and compliance system under the Paris Agreement is not punitive, but is meant to identify when Parties are off track and help them to get back on track if they are not delivering. Underpinning this system are new and comprehensive requirements and procedures applicable to all Parties to track and facilitate Parties’ performance. These include technical expert reviews, a multilateral peer review process, and a standing committee on implementation and compliance. Together these will maintain a focus on both technical and political aspects of performance.
Solid multilateral transparency and accountability rules should also help countries design good policies at home. They should provide an incentive to build data collection and tracking systems that policy-makers need to make the right decisions.
7. What contribution are other sectors making to emission reduction efforts?
The case for action in all sectors of the global economy is reinforced by the Paris Agreement’s aim to peak global emissions as soon as possible, and achieve a balance between man-made emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.
There have been a number of positive developments in addressing greenhouse gas emissions from key sectors this year:
- The International Civil Aviation Organization has agreed on a global market-based measure to enable the stabilisation of international aviation emissions at 2020 levels.
- An ambitious phase-down of climate-warming hydrofluorocarbon gases (HFCs) under the Montreal Protocol has been agreed. Through the proposed early action of frontrunners, it will become effective before 2020.
- An agreement was reached on a global and mandatory system to collect fuel consumption data from ships – an important step in tackling emissions from the maritime sector.
Action in these important sectors will make a substantial contribution to reaching the Paris objectives.
8. What is the EU doing to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions?
When it comes to putting the Paris Agreement into practice on the ground, Europe is ahead of the curve. The Commission has already brought forward the key proposals to implement the EU’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030.
In 2015, it presented a proposal to reform the EU ETS to ensure the energy sector and energy intensive industries deliver the emissions reductions needed. This summer, the Commission brought forward proposals for accelerating the low-carbon transition in the other key sectors of the European economy, together with the proposal on how to integrate land use and forestry into EU’s climate and energy framework.
The Commission also presented a strategy on low-emission mobility, which sets the course for the development of EU-wide measures on low and zero-emission vehicles and alternative low-emissions fuels. Later this month, the Commission will present proposals to adapt the EU’s regulatory framework in order to put energy efficiency first and to foster the EU’s role as a world leader in the field of renewable energy.
These proposals, together with supporting measures, will drive Europe’s transition to a low-carbon economy. They will also help create new jobs and growth opportunities.
9. What is the role for business and other organisations and how can the Global Climate Action Agenda be strengthened?
The Paris Agreement recognises the critical role of businesses, cities and other organisations in the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient world. The private sector will ultimately need to bring about the economic transformation, turning challenges into business opportunities. The sharing of experience from the private sector side, on the conditions to achieve sustainability in practice, is therefore extremely valuable.
Actions showcased through the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, now the Global Climate Action Agenda, are helping to build on the growing momentum. From international initiatives and coalitions to frontrunners from the private sector and local governments, the Action Agenda is playing a major role in helping to inspire national governments and stakeholders around the world. It has the potential to deliver transformative impact on the ground, enhancing ambition in the pre-2020 period and contribute to the implementation of national climate action plans as well as the long term objectives of the Paris Agreement.
The high-level event on global climate action at COP22 and the thematic action days, offer a sound venue to reflect on progress made on existing initiatives as well as for announcements of new transformative initiatives.
10. How does the Paris Agreement address adaptation and loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change?
The Paris Agreement puts adaptation on an equal footing with mitigation. It presents a vision for adaptation which will help countries increase the effectiveness of their adaptation action, as well as promote mutual learning, enhance and better direct support.
Adaptation is an integral element of the EU’s policy and planning. National, regional and local adaptation strategies are gaining ground in Europe since the adoption of the EU Adaptation Strategy in 2013. To date, 22 Member States already have a strategy or a plan.
To seize the opportunities created by the Paris Agreement, in 2017, the Commission will assess progress in implementing the EU strategy and identify new policy measures to enhance adaptation response.
The Paris Agreement recognises the importance of averting, minimising and addressing loss and damage associated with climate change, including extreme weather events and slow onset events such as the loss of fresh water aquifers and glaciers.
These concerns were addressed in Paris by giving the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage a role under the Paris Agreement to promote cooperation on these issues. This will include further work on emergency response and insurance issues and a task force to develop recommendations on approaches to address displacement due to climate change.
 The UNFCCC currently has 197 Parties, including the European Union and all 28 EU Member States
 The Kyoto Protocol currently has 192 Parties, including the EU and all 28 EU Member States.
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