The 22nd Session of the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto protocol popularly referred to as COP22 ended in Marrakech with Parties agreeing on some outcomes, named the Marrakech Action Proclamation that will facilitate the implementation of the Paris Agreement. COP22 which was beautifully hosted by the government and people of Morocco, most importantly set a deadline of 2018 for the completion of a rulebook that will guide the implementation of the Paris Agreement. One thing that set the tone for discussion in Marrakech was the going into force of the Paris Agreement earlier than probably expected as almost all Parties had signed before or during the COP and about 115 ratified. It helped shape the discussion to focus more on implementation and adaptation fund.
Green Climate Fund
One of the major issues in every COP since the COP19 in Copenhagen is the Green Climate Fund. Established in 2009, the fund is expected to see $100 billion contributed by parties especially those from the Global North till 2020 towards mitigating the effects of climate change. Since then, not more$12 billion has been contributed to the fund and COP22 saw the GCF accessed for the first time by member states. While Liberia had $2.2 million approved for her, $2.9 million was approved for Nepal. The UNFCCC is expected to approve up to 20 more request on its table soon to bring the combined sum accessed from the GCF to $2.5 billion. However, if we must achieve the targeted climate action, the target of the GCF must increase and the more countries need to access it faster. There was also something to cheer when some Parties agreed that with current realities, the billions of the GCF must be transformed into trillions to achieve the global target on climate change solutions.
The victory of Donald Trump as the new President of US which came on the second day of COP22 had a major impact on the discussion. As soon the election result became obvious, it triggered palpable fear in most member states owing to the comments of Mr. Trump in the build-up to the election, which at best, represented climate denial put doubts to the position of US on the Paris Agreement. The fear was however doused when the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, arrived at the COP venue to deliver a press conference. He assured the global community that US will not pull out of the Paris Agreement and that Mr. Trump will find it extremely difficult to do so if he ever wishes for such. That did not stop many member states from directing comments to the US during the plenary sessions. Fiji Island made a very emotional appeal to the US during the closing plenary to come to their rescue as it did during the Second World War. The Head of Fiji delegation specifically called on Donald Trump to support efforts in fighting climate change and help his country Fiji which is looking to secure land space in the US to relocate her threatened population. Going by recent happenings, it does appear that Donald Trump will not be such a threat to climate change as he previously appeared.
Africa at COP22
It was a great outing for African countries at the COP22 especially with Liberia being the first African country and one of the very first two member states in the world to access the GCF. However, much of the attention for Africa was understandably drawn by the host Morocco which hosted many side events to boost her growing reputation as an anchor nation for Africa. Morocco’s gigantic solar plant projects, Nor 1 and Nor 2 in Rabat, were a must-visit best practice center for most delegations at the COP.
Uganda earned so much praise for her Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and the meticulous plan of the country towards achieving it. In fact, the country was seen as a best practice country in terms of NDC and other African nations where urged to emulate Uganda.
One of the issues that also came up was the perceived lack of support from developed countries for nations in Africa towards mitigating climate change. While developed countries admitted this fact, they also pointed at a lack of bankable projects from most African member states urging them to work more on the sustainability plans of their projects before seeking for funding.
China took her lead on South South Cooperation on climate change to another level with the operationalization of the $3.21 billion it announced for it last year in Paris during the COP21. This was evident during the side event at the China Pavilion organized by China, Morocco and the UN. More countries from the Global South are seeking to benefit from this support which China is offering as the Asia nation had already declined contributing to the GCF preferring to put funds towards supporting cooperation among developing countries. Africa Pavilion hosted a lot of events mostly focused on renewable energy, agriculture and adaptation. The continent will see a lot of infrastructural development in the next few years that will support climate smart development.
On a light note, the African Pavilion was the best place to be at the COP22 as it had a specialized WiFi and always offered proper “food” to its guests.