The 22nd UN Climate Summit, the Conference of the Parties nr 22, was held from 7-18 November 2016 in Marrakesh, Morocco. It was the first UN climate summit since the December 2015 Paris Summit where the Paris Agreement (PA) was adopted.
General results at a glance
COP 22 was more crowded than expected with 25,000 participants, including fifty heads of state. The early entry into force of the PA was celebrated extensively, namely on November 4, 2016, just before COP 22. The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States on November 8 dominated the summit for several days, but the reactions showed that the vast majority of the participating states do not intend to deviate from the climate agreements made in Paris. For example, a number of important international initiatives were launched during COP 22 to support the implementation of the PA. This implementation will take place via national climate plans for the period 2020-2025 (Nationally Determined Contributions – NDCs, and National Adaptation Plans – NAPs), and from long-term strategies (LTS) for decarbonisation aimed at 2050. It was decided that in 2018 the definitive ‘rules of the game’, the rulebook for the implementation of the PA must be established, including technical and procedural agreements. Furthermore, the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (loss and damage due to climate change) was evaluated and it was decided to establish five-year work plans. The first five-year plan was broadly established. Finally, it was decided to place the UN Adaptation Fund under the PA. However, little progress was made on the long-term financing issue.
COP 22 was largely francophone, with large delegations from West Africa. Negotiations took place in the ‘blue zone’, while the ‘green zone’ acted as a huge market for climate projects, particularly aimed at Africa. This provided an opportunity for host country Morocco to showcase its ‘green’ profile – the country has invested heavily in sustainable energy – and to promote its own companies and institutions as partners for the climate transition across Africa. It became clear that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the climate goals of the PA are in fact two sides of the same coin, as witnessed by the Marrakech Action Proclamation for Our Climate and Sustainable Development, signed by heads of state. See
A closer look at the most important results:
– COP 22 sent an unmistakable signal that most states view climate change as a global threat which can only be addressed through collective and multilateral engagement. That is an important political signal in these turbulent times.
– The decision to adopt the Rulebook for the implementation of the PA in 2018 provides clarity with regard to the timeline. As a result, COP 24 in 2018 will be the next politically important climate summit. The negotiations on the Rulebook will of course continue in the coming years. The main topics in the Rulebook are: mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation (adaptation to climate change), financing, transparency, the development of (work) potential in the field of climate (capacity building), the five-year inventory of progress in the implementation of the PA (global stocktake), and compliance with the agreements.
– The decision to transfer the Adaptation Fund to the PA was the only concrete decision in the area of financing. Details are still to be negotiated.
– More difficult was the discussion about long-term financing, in particular the commitment made in 2010 to make 100 billion US dollars annually for climate projects available to developing countries by 2020. That money must be raised by the rich countries; in the run-up to COP 22 a roadmap was presented for this purpose. However, the developing countries want to continue to see this roadmap as an informal document, because its creation is not based on a COP mandate. See
– The new five-year plan of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss & Damage was adopted, with the main topics: a) damage that develops slowly, b) non-economic losses, c) risk management including insurance, d) climate migration and -displacement (forced relocation within one’s own country as a result of climate change), and e) financing-related matters. The WIM will be evaluated every five years.
– The 2016 Facilitative Dialogue, informal talks on climate action before 2020 and on climate finance, fell short. Hopefully this is a warning for the much more important Facilitative Dialogue in 2018, which will serve as a first informal inventory of the level of ambition of the NDCs. The special report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the global network of climate scientists with which the UN works), expected in 2018, will also be discussed. That report will discuss the feasibility to limit global climate change to no more than 1.5°C temperature increase.
– Negotiations on agriculture failed and will resume in 2017. Key points of contention are the balance between climate change mitigation and preparedness, the balance between the interests of smallholders and large companies, and the balance between market-based and non- market-based approaches.
For relevant documents on the mentioned COP 22 decisions, see:
Discussions – the Trump effect
The possible consequences of the future presidency in the US were discussed for days. Will Trump quit the PA, or even leave the UNFCCC (the UN “umbrella” under which climate negotiations take place)? What will happen to the pledges regarding the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the US Climate Plan (NDC)? Meanwhile, the US delegation, still under President Obama, continued to work hard and constructively and launched a lot of plans in the field of international cooperation and climate investments. The response of many (large) countries also spoke volumes: China, the European Union plus many member states, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Mexico, Canada, the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF, consisting of 48 countries that are highly vulnerable for climate change, with a total population of approx. 1 billion) and many others left no doubt that they want to live up to the PA and invest in the decarbonisation of their economies. China indicated that it was prepared to (continue to) assume the leadership role, with or without the US: a clear signal to Washington.
Not all discussions went so smoothly. The Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC) – a group of developing countries mainly from the Middle East, South America and Asia acting jointly – revived their views on the important issue of “common but differentiated responsibility”. That subject involves the delicate balance between rights and obligations of the various countries (groups), which is somewhat different in the PA than in the ‘old’ division between industrialized countries and developing countries. The LMDC’s position caused tension in the G77/China. This shows that some of the developing countries do accept the new approach, while others want to stick to the old classification.
The discussions surrounding the Adaptation Fund and the timeline for adoption of the Rulebook for the PA showed, on the one hand, the motivation to hurry, but on the other hand that many countries had not yet processed the early entry into force of the PA. As a result, they were not sufficiently prepared to give substance to the discussions surrounding the Rulebook. This came as a bit of a surprise, because the early entry into force of the PA could have been anticipated for several months.
Other important initiatives
– The last day of COP 22, the Marrakech Vision of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) was launched, see http://www.thecvf.org/marrakech-vision/ . It is an ambitious statement and a self-commitment for accelerated and comprehensive climate action, through strong national climate plans (NDCs), the development of long-term strategies (LTS) and a transition to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible.
– Germany and Morocco launched the NDC Partnership Initiative, in which more than 40 countries and institutions already participate. (The ecumenical movement also had input, see later in this report under ‘Ecumenical team’). The aim is to support the implementation of NDCs through the exchange of knowledge, expertise, good mutual coordination and help with applying for financial support. See http://www.ndcpartnership.org .
– InsuResilience is an initiative to insure climate risks, particularly aimed at vulnerable countries and groups. See:
– The African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) aims to provide the whole of Africa with sustainable energy by 2030 at the latest. See http://www.arei.org . Both InsuResilience and AREI were already launched in Paris, but gained new momentum in Marrakech. Both initiatives are strongly regionally oriented and are financially supported by the G7.
– The Capacity Building Initiative for Transparency (CBIT) is a global platform for streamlining and harmonizing climate plans. It has a starting budget of USD 50 million. The first projects will take place in Kenya, Costa Rica and South Africa. See http://www.thegef.org/topics/capacitybuilding-initiative-transparency-cbit .
– The Adaptation of African Agriculture Initiative (AAA) was launched by, among others, Morocco and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) of the UN. The aim is to make African agriculture climate-proof. See http://www.aaainitiative.org .
– The 2050 Pathway Platform was launched under the leadership of ‘climate champion’ Laurence Tubiana. The aim is to promote cooperation between countries, regions, cities and companies through the development of LTS aimed at decarbonisation. The 2050PP is supported by many countries, including the US, EU, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Japan, Ethiopia, 17 regional and federal states, 15 cities and 196 companies. See http://newsroom.unfccc.int/media/791675/2050-pathwayannouncement-finalclean-3.pdf .
– Other initiatives were also launched or strengthened, demonstrating the character of COP 22 as an action- and implementation-oriented summit.
The way forward
The year 2017 will be the second year of preparation for the implementation of the PA. The situation remains dire given that 2016 was once again the warmest year in a row globally. Greenhouse gas emissions continue to fall in OECD countries, while in China they have remained about the same since 2014. But emissions are growing in many developing countries, for example in India by 5% per year. Although many of these countries say they want to achieve the growth of their economies in a sustainable, ‘green’ way, the practice is still lagging behind. The position of the US remains unclear for the time being, but in the worst case scenario it could significantly slow down the global transition and make the 1.5°C target unattainable. To keep that goal within reach, global emissions must peak as soon as possible, no later than 2020. Much will depend on the attitude of China and the EU. The new EU climate and energy package due for adoption in 2018 already holds great potential for accelerating the uptake of renewable energy. The same applies to the intentions stated by a number of developing countries. Given this trend, it is not inconceivable that the introduction of renewable energy in the real economy will go faster than the political negotiations. In order to support and accelerate both as much as possible, it is very important that civil society in all countries makes an active effort for climate action. This can be done in the private situation, at work, through trade unions and NGOs, in the business community and in science. In addition, much will depend on the ambition of the national climate plans (NDCs and NAPs). These must be ready in 2018, so civil society can still influence their content. The same applies to long-term strategies and climate plans aimed at the middle of this century, in which the transition to a low-carbon economy must be mapped out. A large part of these plans will be aimed at the business sector and will have a sectoral approach. This is necessary to steer the business community in the right direction and to make the right investments. The G20 countries in particular have an important role to play here. Promising in this regard is the establishment of the 2050 Pathway Platform.
The next UN climate summit, COP 23, will take place in Bonn, Germany, from 6 to 17 November 2017, and will be chaired by Fiji. It will again be a ‘technical’ COP focusing on the Rulebook for the PA and on the preparation of the ‘political’ COP 24 in which important decisions have to be made.
COP 22 and faith communities
Interfaith Statement and Divest-Invest Movement
Interreligious cooperation on climate change has been going on for a few years now. Just like last year in Paris, this resulted in an Interfaith Statement, supported by many church leaders and leaders of other faith communities, including the Dalai Lama, Mgr. Sorondo of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, and hundreds of others, including Buddhists, Hindus, Jain, Sikh, Muslims, Christians of various denominations and other spiritual leaders, including from Indigenous Peoples. During a special side event on November 10 “Building the Divest-Invest Movement with Faiths, Foundations and Finance”, the statement was presented to the general secretary of the UN and the Secretariat of the UNFCCC. The statement points out that the continued use of fossil fuels is unethical and calls for investments to be removed from this sector as soon as possible and reinvested in sustainable energy. In September 2014, the Divest-Invest movement consisted of 181 organizations and 656 individuals, representing more than USD 50 billion. In Paris in 2015, it had grown to 600 organizations, representing $3.4 trillion. The fast-growing movement consists of faith groups (faith-based organizations: FBOs), various organizations and foundations, governments, NGOs, educational institutions and pension funds.
Roll call of Fez and “green” sermons
Prior to COP 22, there was an interreligious meeting in the Moroccan city of Fez in which the King of Morocco played a major role. The meeting produced the “Fez Call for Universal Climate Awareness” on November 3, calling for climate change to be put at the top of the political and social agenda.
Also, during the two Fridays that fell in the COP, “green” sermons were held in all mosques in Marrakesh and in some beyond that city. And on November 8, an ecumenical service was held at the Christian Church of the Martyrs in Marrakesh.
As in Paris, an ecumenical team was busy day to day with lobbying and campaigning activities. Every morning started with an ecumenical morning prayer. For newcomers there were information meetings and web lectures with background information and tips. Church dignitaries were guided in their activities. And several articles were written and published, tweeted and blogged.
The lobbyists were largely people from ACT-Alliance (the global umbrella of Christian aid and development organizations) and members of the climate working group of the World Council of Churches. ACT had prepared a position paper in advance, the climate working group of the World Council had talking points. There were several strategy sessions before and during the COP, daily morning briefings on the status of the negotiations, and a debriefing every evening. The lobby groups focused on the topics of decarbonisation, climate resilience/adaptation, financing and gender/human rights. As usual, there was close cooperation with Climate Action Network (CAN) International and CAN Europe. After the COP, an internal evaluation was carried out to see to what extent the ecumenical points had been taken up in the negotiations. The influence of the ecumenical movement is also growing outside the negotiations: for example, several organizations are cooperating in the implementation of the NDC Partnership that was launched during COP 22.
Side events, actions and stunts
Members of the ecumenical team were involved in various side events. An overview:
– Nov. 7: Camp Climate, a side event for young people about climate education and climate projects, with a large contribution from the LWF.
– Nov. 8: Side event: “Interreligious dialogue; faith communities and climate action”; including World Council and Government of Indonesia.
– Nov. 10: Action “Stop Financing the Fossil Industry” – ACT
– 10 Nov.: Side event “Clean energy is crucial for poverty reduction”. Statement against claim by the coal industry that this would require more coal and lignite. With various faith groups, including the Dutch FairClimate Fund.
– 11 Nov.: Side event “Towards 1.5°C – Ambition before 2020”. Attention to the countries’ lack of ambition for the coming years. We cannot wait until 2020 to take measures, especially if we want to reach 1.5°C. All countries must contribute equally to the process; developing countries will immediately have to choose the path of sustainable energy. Large share of ACT Alliance, CIDSE (RC sister organization) and the Global Catholic Climate Movement.
– Nov. 13: Large climate march through Marrakesh with a delegation of the ecumenical team.
– Nov 15: “Loss & Damage and the Warsaw International Mechanism”. How can we achieve climate justice? For aid and development organisations, the subject of loss & damage is very real; they are directly involved in their work. How can fair solutions be achieved? With Brot für die Welt.
– Nov. 15: “Making peace with the Earth,” side event of the World Council of Churches. About the connection between water, food, sustainable agriculture and climate change. It is necessary to monitor the food supply for vulnerable groups and to move towards a sustainable food and water supply.
– Nov 15: Prayer and solidarity action with Standing Rock, in their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline in the US. Support from the World Council.
– 16 Nov. Stunt on this special Africa Day: “Celebrate sustainable energy in Africa!” – ACT
– Nov. 17: Exhibition and stunt ‘The Human Face of Climate Change” – ACT.
– Nov. 17: Interfaith fasting for the climate, plus stunt for more ambition: “We are Hungry for Action!” – ACT.
– Nov. 18: “Trust and peacebuilding approaches for ambitious climate action.” Side event of the World Council of Churches on building peace and trust in order to achieve ambitious climate action. After all, that action depends on people and their mutual relationships. Contributions from, among others, the Quaker UN mission and the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University. See http://unfccc.int/meetings/marrakech_nov_2016/items/9637.php#Side%20events | https://youtu.be/TSwULaTTXBc
– 18 Nov. side event: ‘Addressing Loss and Damage in Developing Countries’ – how to deal with loss & damage in developing countries? Focus on financing and insurance, including the need for a global agricultural insurance mechanism. including ACT, Nigeria, Germany and Fiji governments. See https://actlearn.adobeconnect.com/climate
– Nov. 18: Message to last plenary session of COP 22 of FBOs (faith-based organizations), read as usual by a member of the World Council’s Climate Working Group. Key points: The SDGs for 2030 and the Paris Agreement are the world’s main hope for rapid progress towards sustainability. But much more ambition is needed from all countries. The ecumenical movement bears this hope and speaks for many who have no voice.
– The Green Cross had a photo exhibition “The future we want”. The World Council of Churches contributed to this.
– An interesting book already from 2013, published as a paperback in 2016: How the World’s Religions are Responding to Climate Change, Robin Globus Veldman, Andrew Szasz, Randolph Haluza-DeLay ed., Social Scientific Investigations (paperback: 9781138656536).
About the book: A growing chorus of voices has suggested that the world’s religions may become critical actors as the climate crisis unfolds, particularly in light of international paralysis on the issue. In recent years, many faiths have begun to address climate change and its consequences for human societies, especially the world’s poor. This is the first volume to use social science to examine how religions are helping to address one of the most significant and far-reaching challenges of our time.
Videos and photos
can be found here:
Amsterdam, December 2016/January 2017
Marijke van Duin
Member of the working group on climate change, World Council of Churches (WCC/CC)
Sources include information from the ecumenical team and a report by Thomas Hirsch, Climate and Development Advice, Germany, member of WCC/CC