The early ratification of the Paris Agreement formed at last year’s COP21 has given us renewed hope for the global fight against climate change, but has left us without a clear path to turn these aspirations into action. Continuing the momentum from last year’s agreement to keep global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius will be on everyone’s mind this week in Marrakech, as this year’s COP begins. COP22 will be the first opportunity to develop clear methods to build upon the success of last year’s framework agreement. Crucial points of discussion will include the inclusion of the private sector in climate goals, the development of a flexibility mechanism for emissions trading, and the empowerment of developing countries.
Claire Dufour, Executive Director at Nexus reflects on what is at stake for COP22:
“COP22 needs to tell us how to implement the goals that are set in the Paris Agreement. Countries should provide more clarity on how they aim to reach their individual targets. The private sector in particular needs visibility to plan investments and create the adequate partnerships that will deliver emission reductions.”
The private sector will need to play a critical role in addressing climate change for the Paris Agreement to be successful. Everyone must play their part to reach the target of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Since the last COP in Paris we have seen many great initiatives sprouting from the private sector and civil society. An example is the work of our partner Cool Effect. Moving away from the large-scale corporate offsetting model, Cool Effect allows individuals to offset their emissions on a much smaller scale. Corporate trends have continued to shift towards addressing their carbon impacts through corporate responsibility initiatives such as reporting and offsetting their carbon footprint. In the future, we need more initiatives like internal carbon pricing to scale the impact of the private sector.
A mechanism that could be helpful in scaling these initiatives is the already existing voluntary carbon market. Claire explains:
“It gives a framework for the private sector to engage with the global target of reducing emissions. The voluntary market not only provides us with carbon prices; it also supports projects that are driving low-carbon development. This means it can catalyze finance towards efficient and innovative energy initiatives. While Article 6 calls for support to sustainable development, offset projects can help deliver against the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
Parties need to start agreeing on appropriate mechanisms that will support the achievement of the climate goals. The creation of a new flexibility mechanism set to launch in 2020 is particularly important. This new mechanism could build on the existing Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and give all countries the opportunity to trade emissions reductions globally to help achieve reductions where they are the most affordable. Another task lies in building up individual mitigations targets and ensuring the integrity of emissions reporting.
Working with projects in developing countries raises the question of appropriate solutions and their financing. Many developing countries are highly vulnerable to climate change and have a low capacity to adapt to its effects yet many solutions are being pioneered by local organizations. The main challenge is sourcing the finance necessary to help the projects realize their full potential. Empowering these initiatives is vital to design solutions that are appropriate for different socio-cultural contexts and ensuring sustainability over the long-term. It’s in the scope of COP22 to call for more financing towards local businesses who are addressing the growing energy needs of developing countries. COP22 should set the right conditions for developing countries to become innovators so they too can play role in renewable energy and climate mitigation technologies of tomorrow.
In summary, we need concrete actions from this year’s COP. We need more ambition but we also need more than just climate commitment. We need the tools to support the complex achievement of these ambitions. 2020 is around the corner, but luckily we do not need to reinvent everything. We can build upon our experiences and good practices from the past 15 years of climate finance. We need a strong pledge from the private sector, agreements regarding flexibility mechanisms and more financial commitments for developing countries. Achieving these steps should subsequently produce real actions from both developing and developed countries. Marrakesh is an opportunity to seize this momentum and show a clear direction for our finite planet.