“The Eyes of the World are upon COP 22,” says the newly elected president of COP 22
November 10, 2016, Marrakech, Morocco. The United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as ‘COP 22,’ opened on November 7, 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco, just days after the entry into force of the landmark Paris Agreement which has now been ratified by 100 countries. The Conference comes with a ‘Climate of Hope and of a Legitimate Aspirations for all Humanity,’ said the newly elected President of COP 22 and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Morocco, Mr. Salaheddine Mezouar.
He further said that this conference would mobilise the political atmosphere and commitment to ratify the Paris Agreement. He also called the Parties (Nations) to develop a more ambitious and inclusive road map for all. “We have a huge responsibility before humanity and we must join forces in order to address the needs of the most vulnerable populations. We must provide them with the resources to adapt to the disastrous consequences of climate change.”
Meanwhile, in her remarks, Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, told the opening of the Conference that the rapid entry into force of the Paris accord “is a clear cause for celebration, but it is also a timely reminder of the high expectations that are now placed upon us all.” “Achieving the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement is not a given,” she continued, underscoring that: “Marrakech is our moment to take forward climate action at the international and national levels as a central pillar of the successful realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is our opportunity to take the next steps towards an inclusive, sustainable path for every man, woman and child.” Ms. Espinosa underlined key areas in which the work needs to be taken forward. She stressed that finance is flowing, but it is not enough. Moreover, nationally determined contributions now need to be integrated into national policies and investment plans. “Support for adaptation needs to be given higher priority, and progress on the loss and damage mechanism has to be ensured to safeguard development gains in the most vulnerable communities.”
Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Society Mechanisms, and Private Sector Representatives were hugely present at the COP 22, including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Climate Action Network. They welcomed the entry into force of the Paris Agreement but observed that there was still a long way to go, particularly in terms of funding concrete implementation of commitments.
It is very interesting to observe that, almost all Parties (Nations) speak the same language in upholding the Paris Agreement. Still there are apprehensions in drawing roadmaps. Losses and damages, climate funds and financing, the implementation strategies, balanced and equal treatment of all parties, sharing of technologies and technological knowledge, capacity enhancement to the needed parties, fair and transparent financial assistance and deals for mitigation ad adaptation are the crucial issues before the COP 22 identified by most of the Parties.
Parties like Maldives, Pacific islands, Bangladesh continue to emphasise the need to fix the global temperature increase to1.5 degrees and to ensure genuine and fair assessment of losses and damages. In fact, there are strong demands for ‘open’, ‘transparent’, ‘genuine’, inclusive and Party driven agreement at the end of COP 22. Also, there is an open plea to exempt and refrain parties who have not yet ratified the Paris Agreement. The Parties who are part of the COP 22 look for a collective and Joint-ownership Agreement which will be applicable and acceptable for all.
However, the challenge of a youth delegate to the COP 22 has shaken the whole discussions when she expressed her disappointment over the nations who were party to the Paris agreement but are involved in opening up fossil power, mining and nuclear projects. She challenged the Parties to give back the world that our ancestors gave to us as it was. “We know how to manage if you do not know how to manage”.
India at COP 22:
Shri. Anil Madhav Dave, Honorable Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change spoke at the opening ceremony of the Indian pavilion at the COP 22 in Marrakesh and affirmed India’s commitment to uphold the Paris Agreement. For India climate change is a justice issue because climate change has made India vulnerable, and hence it is a justice issue. Therefore, India will speak and work for the developing and vulnerable countries to combat the challenges of climate change.
India has taken several measures in mitigation and adaptation, and promoting alternative and renewable energy initiatives. The minister has reiterated India’s commitment to implement the Paris agreement. He further stated that in COP 22 India will stand for a collective and inclusive road map for all parties to work together. “We are also concerned about the issues related to transparency, accountability, finance, party driven approach and issues of such where the powerful countries would not dictate the terms for the developing countries,” he said.
Earlier, Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in a side-event organised stated that India is committed not only to adapt the Paris Agreement but also to practice the same with deeper commitment. He also suggested that, there should be a time frame for the parties who have not yet ratified the Paris agreement to ratify it. If they do not do it in time, they should be refrained from the climate negotiations until they ratify.
There are hundreds of side events organised to support the negotiations and discussions of the parties by the NGOs, Peoples Groups, Faith Groups, Academic and Research Centres and Universities and Parties themselves.
The ACT Alliance is co-ordinating the work of ecumenical and faith based organisations such as World Council of Churches, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, Lutheran World Federation, Bread for the World, Christian Aid, Church of Norway and several other organisations at the COP 22 by providing necessary information for participation and intervention in the discussions and side-events.
The Interfaith statement of the WCC is recognized as the climate faith stance of the faith based groups. And the position paper developed by the ACT Alliance helps the faith based organisations and INGOs and NGOs to work towards the common goal.
There was an ecumenical worship at the Church of Saint Martyrs, the 1000 year old Roman Catholic Church in Marrakesh, where over 100 COP 22 delegates and observers prayed for planet earth along with the local congregation. At the end there was a candle light vigil for the victims and survivors of the high typhoon in the Philippines three years ago. There are over two dozen interfaith side events organised and sponsored by World Council of Churches, ACT Alliance, Lutheran World Federation, Christian Aid, Bread for the World, Church of Norway and other Christian and ecumenical organisations.
During the inauguration of the Indian pavilion on November 8th 2016, Rev. Christopher Rajkumar, Executive Secretary, Commission on Unity and Mission (incorporating concerns of Justice, Peace and Creation) of the National Council of Churches in India and the representative of the WCC – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance presented the Act Alliance Position Paper, and the Interfaith Statement of the World Council of Churches to the Minister and sought India’s support to these faith based initiatives and campaigns. For climate justice. Rev. Christopher Rajkumar also, spoke at an Interfaith Panel organised by the EU based INGOs and Peoples’ groups on 9th November 2016 on the topic “Climate Justice: A Christian Response.”
The Paris agreement will come into force at COP 22, when the first Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement will open on 15 November. Before the meeting wraps up on 18 November, parties hope to define the rules of implementation of the Paris Agreement and establish a viable plan to provide financial support to developing countries to support climate action. The whole world is keeping their eyes on COP 22 and its outcome.
“When COP 21 was definitely critical, COP 22 is crucial,” said Mr. Isaiah Toroitich Co-ordinator, Global Policy and Advocacy Programmes, ACT Alliance. Coming to an agreement is so important. However, implementing it in an ambitious and equitable way is much more crucial as we enter into the new climate policy regime. So, we sincerely hope, pray and encourage the Parties to develop commonly agreed inclusive and transparent modalities and next steps from a strong justice perspective.
The American Youth representatives demonstrated, demanding the President Designate to oblige USA to fulfil its earlier commitment in climate negotiations. Several such demonstrations and stunts were done by the Civil Society Mechanism to campaign for climate justice.
We hope that the COP 22 will be the beginning of a new pilgrimage of climate justice and peace towards ‘Just and Inclusive Communities.
Reporting from COP 22, Merrakesh, Morocco by Rev. R. Christopher Rajkumar