Erik Filipsson is Strategic Policy Advisor at Vattenfall and he is on site in Marrakech to observe the climate negotiations and report on his impressions.
Historic climate agreement in record time
The first snow of the year is falling in Stockholm as I pack for Marrakech. I wonder whether it is early for the time of year. Something which did arrive early this year is the major annual round of climate negotiations within the UN – about one month earlier than normal.
I'm sure there are several reasons, but I want to believe that it is because the countries are eager to resume the work of implementing the historic climate agreement which was adopted in Paris in December 2015. It would tally well with the rapid sign-up that the countries have displayed within the framework of the ratification process underway during 2016, and which at the end of last week resulted in the Paris agreement being able to formally come into force – in record time.
Everybody's talking about COP
Marrakech is a pulsating city. The streets are full of mopeds, horses and ”petit taxis”. Everybody's talking about the climate meeting being held in the city. Some might remember what is was like the last time the UN's climate secretariat arranged a similar meeting in the same city – the COP7 meeting in 2001. Then, several crucial advances were made in the work of establishing the framework which finally enabled the parties to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. And this despite the fact that only a few months previously a newly appointed American president from Texas had pronounced the Kyoto Protocol officially dead.
Time to deliver on promises
When the talks start in Marrakech in 2016 the Paris Agreement have thus already entered into force. However, the hard part is not signing a piece of paper, but actually delivering on what has been promised. That's why COP22 has come to be called ”The COP of Action”. Now is really the time for the sleeves to be rolled up. Time is shorter this time – the results must be achieved more quickly and be considerably more extensive.
It has been a long journey for many of the participants at the COP22 meeting – particularly if you consider that the agreement in Paris was preceded by many years of tough negotiations. But nevertheless, it is now that the most important work starts. The countries must show that they are prepared to live up to the ambitions they have presented. But that is not enough – the contributions must be further increased if it is to be possible to keep global warming below 2 degrees.
A long process
It is a carefully marked out process which will take a few years and is in fact not the primary aim of the COP22 meeting. And yet I can't help hoping that the countries seize the opportunity to announce their new climate targets and policies now in Marrakech. This is precisely what China is doing just before the climate meeting starts, and nothing could more clearly indicate that the circumstances at the foot of the Atlas mountain are completely different in 2016 than they were in 2001.