‘COP for action’: Key outcomes from COP22

Airsynergy Managing Director Jim Smyth summarises the various outcomes from COP22 – a global climate conference – and explains the importance of collaboration, transparency and renewable energy generation to meet carbon reduction targets.

If you have an interest in climate change, sustainability or renewable energy generation, then COP22 will be a familiar term – particularly in the last month. COP22 is more formally known as the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and took place in Marrakesh from 7th-18th November.

This annual conference was hotly anticipated, primarily because its predecessor; COP21, or the Paris Agreement as it is more commonly known, was pivotal in the fight against climate change. At this event, various countries reached an agreement to ensure the global temperature didn’t increase by more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

COP21 vs COP22

Whilst the Paris Agreement resulted in handshakes, COP22 ensured that agreements were solidified and mapped out. During the course of the 11 day conference, a Marrakesh Partnership for Global Action and a 2050 Pathways Platform were established. The former is a global action initiative which focusses on bolstering investment from 2017-2020 and involves intense collaboration with many stakeholders such as financial institutions and the local community; collaboration which the conference member parties have agreed to. Barriers which may prevent climate change targets being met must also be addressed, and the tracking and reporting on each countries efforts to fight climate change documented.

The 2050 Pathways Platform is a separate initiative, aimed at supporting countries which are seeking to devise long-term, climate-resilient, sustainable development pathways. Laurence Tubiana, High Level Climate Champion for France, commented on the implementation of the pathways: “Having a good plan is never a sufficient condition for success, but not having one is always a recipe for failure.” Essentially, this platform is a space for collective problem-solving, where support on strategies can be provided. This initiative is making global headway; already 22 countries have begun the process to prepare a 2050 pathway.

Countries broadcast climate change commitments

Aside from these two initiatives, a new fund entitled Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) which is hosted by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) was declared open for business by its CEO Naoko Ishii during talks in Marrakesh. A total of 11 donors have pledged more than £40 million to this initiative, including the UK, USA, Canada, Italy and Germany. The investment from these donors will be used to help countries scale up their efforts to deliver national climate plans and encourage transparency in the climate change commitments that countries make.

Although not strictly outcomes of the conference itself, many countries used this global event and its importance as a stage to announce their climate change commitments. The Climate Vulnerable Forum, 47 of the world’s poorest countries, have together announced that they are committed to generating 100% of their energy from renewable resources as soon as viably possible. They also pledged to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) before 2020 and prepare long-term strategies on achieving this uptake in clean energy.

Expansion of the global renewable energy market

Generating energy from renewable resources is absolutely crucial if countries wish to meet their reduction targets. Stakeholders are starting to become aware of the potential that renewable energy technology holds. In the last decade alone, the global renewable energy market has expanded more than six-fold. It has been predicted that this market will become the largest market that anyone has ever known.

This is primarily because for the first time, governments and businesses alike are spending more money investing in carbon-conscious, clean energy technology as opposed to fossil fuels. Whether businesses choose small or large scale wind turbines, solar panels or even renewable powered streetlights, there are so many clean ways that countries can generate energy, whatever its status. The pledges made at COP22 must also be revisited every five years, ensuring that their strategies evolve as renewable energy technology changes; accelerating the global transition to a clean energy economy.

All of us must play our part to halt climate change

COP22 signified the unwavering commitment that nations have to the agreement made in 2015. Fifty five nations were required to ratify the Paris Agreement for it to be officially actioned, which occurred in October, however, by the end of the conference in Marrakesh, 112 countries had signed up to the pact. Most notably – UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson put pen to paper on the penultimate day of the conference, signalling the UK’s ratification of the agreement. This demonstrates the UK’s commitment to international leadership on climate issues, despite the uncertainties of Brexit.

What is particularly important to note, not only about COP22, but every global conference – pledges are bigger than any one country or head of state. It is instead about how each and every one of us can work together to protect our climate, and investing in renewable energy technology is one way that we can make this happen. On the closing day of the conference, U.S Secretary of State John Kerry commented: “Most businesspeople have come to understand that investing in clean energy simply makes economic sense. You can do good and do well at the same time. The energy curve is finally bending towards sustainability.”

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