INSIDE COP22: WORLD LEADERS JOIN THE CONFERENCE

COP22 The urgency to act and to increase ambitions is stressed by the leaders of states and governments ministers, who have arrived in Marrakech for the crucial final days of climate talks.

Our day starts with a so far unusual experience at the climate negotiations in Marrakech: Queueing in front of the security checks. The leaders of states and governments ministers have entered the stage, which is like a magnet. Their arrival marks a switch from negotiating technical details to political decisions.

Once we made it through the enhanced check in procedure, we are fighting our way through the tight crowd of journalists, tripods, security guards and watchers. In the midst of an bustling crowd, we manage to get a glimpse of some of the leaders walking into the plenary room. Among the caravan moving into this restricted area, we can recognize some of the leaders by name, many more faces seem to be familiar from the news at least.

From the back row in the neighbouring tent, we are tensely starring at the four huge screens, in line with the more than 600 people in front of us.

COP22 - a turning point
The host of the climate negotiations, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, opens the high level plenary with his wish to turn COP22 into a decisive turning point in the implementation of the Paris Agreement - the COP of action. Most strikingly, the Moroccan King does not miss out to appeal on the developed countries to stick to their promises made in Paris. Solidarity with the developing and most vulnerable countries is what he and his fellow speakers ask for: financial and technical support, mobilisation of 100 billion dollar for the green climate fund at least by 2020, the key to the Paris agreement, and facilitating the transfer of technologies, research and innovation. It is obvious, the North-South divide is still there. And “action” has a completely different meaning depending on who uses this term. 

Motivating calls from leaders and locals
Ban Ki-moon, outgoing UN Secretary-General, called on state leaders to translate the work done into Paris into concrete, effective policies and actions. “The quicker we act, the more we gain.” With 2016 most probably becoming the hottest year on record ever, it is difficult to argue against that.

We hear many motivating, sometime self-motivating, calls from leaders on the global audience to take joint actions. The call which sticks most to our mind is the one of 16-year-old local girl Mariame using the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: “In life, there are no solutions. There are forces on the move. They have to be created and solutions will follow.” The audience seems to be touched in the same way we are and you can feel a somewhat warmer applause escorting her when she leaves the stage.

Future of Africa at the heart of the agreement
French President and host of COP21 in Paris, François Hollande, seems to be truly dedicated to continue to move forces. He confirmed that France and other leading economies would take a tough line in negotiations with the US if the new government seeks to undermine the Paris Agreement. Linking back to the host continent, Hollande called upon the other leaders to put the future of Africa at the heart of the agreement. “Developed countries have an environmental debt to Africa. Of the 50 countries most scared by climate change, 36 are located in sub-Saharan Africa. We must remember what unites us. Quite simply our planet.”

Climate change a temporary phenomenon?
 While we are having our lunch at one of the takeaways on the venue, we digest what we have heard today. The danger of losing momentum after Paris is one of the big underlying fears that we recognise in in all sessions and when talking to delegates. There are some notable exceptions, such as oil exporting countries, that seem to see climate change as an temporary phenomenon. Apart from those voices, the urgency to act and to increase ambitions is stressed by every leader that we listen to. The north south-divide is there and imminent and solving the financing problem in developing countries will be one of the crucial items here in Marrakech. We stay curious how the western world will address this in their speeches tomorrow. 

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