Marrakech: From Regime-Building to Ambition-Building

Dear Ministers, We warmly welcome you to COP22 with its cool breeze and dusty trails.

The entry into force of the Paris Agreement less than one year after COP21 is a remarkable achievement. But if ECO has learned anything in more than 25 years of climate change negotiations, it is to not rest on its laurels.

Last week presented us with a stark reminder that all countries need to focus on delivering the promises of Paris. Ministers, you came to Marrakech to spell out the necessary details of the decisions taken in Paris, and by doing so seek to underpin real climate action at home.

You came to tell fellow ministers how, inspired by the Paris Agreement, you have taken immediate further action, so that the ambition gap can be closed. This early action is essential to achieving the Paris goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Sadly, what in COP-land is called the 2016 ‘facilitative’ dialogue began with only limited preparation and ended with recycled statements. ECO calls on you to use this weeks’ high-level part of the facilitated dialogue to present your enhanced ambition for mitigation, adaptation and support.

The next big moment in climate politics will come in 2018. The IPCC report will spell out the implications of the 1.5°C goal and—you read it here first—there will be a major push to raise ambition and revise the current 2025 and 2030 NDCs upwards. As, collectively, if today’s NDCs are set in stone the window for achieving the global goals you just set in Paris will be already closed.

The facilitative dialogue 2018 (FD2018) is key to closing the ambition gap. FD2018 needs to be prepared with all the usual trimmings including COP guidance to the Presidency and Secretariat, an agenda, submissions by parties and observers; an expert dialogue, and technical papers. To stay below 1.5°C it is crucial that we go beyond mitigation and address the insufficient means of implementation (finance, technology, and capacity-building) required to unlock the conditional NDC’s potential.

It is said that money ‘makes the world go round’. The issue of finance is rightly receiving a lot of ministerial attention. It is clear that adaptation really needs more attention. So, how about committing to enhance efforts to finally achieve the magical balance between mitigation and adaptation, and confirming the Adaptation Fund as an instrument of the Paris Agreement? Two politically important signals that seem appropriate for an African COP. Funding for adaptation is what Africa and the developing world as a whole need most urgently.

You must be just as surprised as ECO (and just a tad annoyed?) to find that many of the draft decisions from the first week of this COP do little more than postpone the inevitable. They are largely procedural, as Parties did not find common ground, be it on agriculture or the date by which the Paris rulebook must be completed (answer: 2018). Instead, there is the ‘Appel de Marrakech’, a most gentle call to action by our host, not a COP Decision. You have come at just the right moment to insert some spirit into the documents.

2016 may have been the year when the clean energy revolution took flight. Solar and wind energy are competing head to head with dirty power plants – and winning. Some countries have eliminated fossil fuel subsidies. However, 2016 has equally seen many announcements of new investments in climate-killing coal-fired power plants. If they are allowed to be built in your country, you may well be responsible for closing the door on meeting the Paris temperature goals. ECO is not surprised that our youth are taking governments to court over this fundamental injustice, and that they too are winning.