MOROCCO The UN Climate Change Conference COP22 starts today in Marrakech. Representatives of the world’s countries are meeting again to discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement which has just come into force. 

Over 25,000 participants – politicians, business representatives and lobby organisations – as well as 1,500 journalists from all over the world – will be present in Marrakech between 7-18 November. Vattenfall will also be involved to show its commitment, capture the latest political signals and set up valuable contacts for the future.

Erik Filipsson, Strategic Policy Advisor at Vattenfall, is following the negotiations in Marrakech.

“We obviously hope that the talks in Marrakech will continue to build further on the positive spirit that characterised last year’s major climate conference in Paris,” he says. “That is really needed now as we start the important work of hammering out the more detailed set of rules which must be in place if we are to have a fully functioning global climate regime by 2020.”

What role will Vattenfall play?
“To convert to a climate-neutral energy system is a completely central part of Vattenfall’s strategy. That’s why it’s important for us to follow closely how the new international climate regime for the period after 2020 will take shape, as well as contributing our experience and perspective. It is valuable to be involved in the whole process, as decisions taken at global level also impact policies at EU and national level.”

Vattenfall is keen to see the various countries raise the level of their ambitions in their national climate plans as soon as possible, so that the overall aim to limit global warming to well below 2°C can be reached.

“In this context, we feel that the EU could contribute by setting targets that exceed the 40% reduction by 2030 which is currently its avowed aim. Another question that we are keen to raise is the necessity of setting a price on CO2 in order to create incentives for a cost-effective and market-based climate transition. Here we see that Article 6 of the Paris Agreement has great potential for playing an important role for the growth of emissions markets and increased international cooperation overall.”

Historic agreement
On 4 November, only a few days before the COP22 conference was due to start in Morocco, the Paris Agreement – the world’s first really global climate agreement – came into force and thus became legally binding for its parties. It took only a little less than a year after the Paris Agreement was adopted at the COP21 meeting in December last year before it was also ratified, which can be compared with the Kyoto Protocol from 1997 which took the various countries over seven years to ratify before it finally came into force in 2005.

“The fact that things have moved so quickly is a sign of the great commitment and decisiveness that now permeates the global climate activities,” says Filipsson. “Instead of focusing on what separates the various countries, we can see a clear will for cooperation and to respond seriously to the climate threat. Another important difference is that today’s society, almost twenty years after Kyoto, sees the risks of an unbalanced climate system more clearly and is also open to the various possibilities that follow from a thoroughgoing conversion of the energy system.”

But that does not mean that the task will be easy, according to Erik Filipsson.

“Within the next few years we must agree on how much each party shall contribute to fill the gap that exists between the various countries’ climate targets and the global emissions road map needed to reach the overall temperature target, and how to mobilise additional resources for the climate funding that has been promised to the less developed countries.”

Already above 1 degree
The Paris Agreement implies a more rigorous approach to the earlier 2°C target. The unanimously accepted aim is now to limit global warming to “well below” 2°C, as well as to endeavour to keep the temperature rise below 1.5°C compared with pre-industrial levels. Global warming has already passed the 1°C mark – and without anticipating the new research that the UN climate panel (IPCC) will be presenting in 2018 – everything points to the fact that global emissions of greenhouse gases must already have dropped markedly within the next 5-10 years if the task is not to become too onerous in the coming decades.

The Eiffel Tower is lit green on 4 November to celebrate the coming into force of the Paris Agreement. 

The fact that the Paris Agreement came into force precisely on 4 November 2016 was due to this being thirty days after both formal criteria for its implementation were fulfilled, which happened in conjunction with the EU’s ratification of the Agreement. A hundred countries have now ratified the Paris Agreement (including the USA, China, India and the EU): together, they are responsible for approximately 69 per cent of total emissions of greenhouse gases in the world. Several countries are expected to formally approve the Paris Agreement in the near future.

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