Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Africa calls for action oriented climate change conference

By Edmund Smith-Asante, Tanger, Morocco
The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI
The 22nd edition of the United Nations’ annual Climate Change conference dubbed COP 22, will be held in the North African country Morocco in November, to primarily bring into force the Paris Agreement arrived at during COP 21 in France last year.

At COP 21 in Paris, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached a historic agreement to combat climate change, speed up and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low carbon future.

The Paris Agreement requires all Parties to put forward their best efforts through “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) and to strengthen their efforts in the years ahead.

The agreement, also known as L'accord de Paris in French, is an agreement within the framework of the UNFCCC that deals with the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation and finance, and implementation is scheduled to begin in 2020.

The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change, by limiting global warming to well below 2°C.

But even before COP 22 takes off, Africa, spearheaded by Morocco, which will host the conference, has already put in a strong word to UN member nations that would be attending, to ensure that the aim of the meeting, which is to put in concrete measures towards implementation of the Paris 

Agreement is realised
According to the Steering Committee of the conference, about 55 nations would have to ratify the agreement before COP 22 to give it the needed push before the conference kicks off in November 2016.

Currently only 20 of the 197 Parties to the UNFCCC responsible for 40 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, have ratified the agreement. However, 55 per cent ratification is needed to set the Paris Agreement in motion, according to Mr Yafei Gang, an official of the UN and member of the steering committee. 

The King’s speech
In a speech read on his behalf at the second climate change conference of countries in the Mediterranean region dubbed MedCOP Climate Conference, the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, stated; “In a few weeks’ time, the Kingdom of Morocco will host COP 22 in Marrakech; we want this Conference of Parties to be action-oriented.”

He said as the first COP to be convened after the Paris Agreement, “COP 22 will be a litmus test for climate diplomacy. Nothing short of world leaders’ collective commitment to give concrete substance to the Agreement, through ambitious, tangible actions and decisions, will keep global temperature increase below 2oC.”

King Mohammed VI therefore, urged the adoption and rapid implementation of sustainable development approaches and innovative technological strategies by all countries.

“To this end, the priorities set by the Moroccan Presidency of COP 22 focus on four areas, which are the actual implementation of national contributions, the mobilisation of funds, the strengthening of adaptation measures and technological development,” he outlined.

He said COP 22 would consider a crucial action plan devoted to technology, which would comprise the dissemination of mature technology, the emergence of transition technology and also offer support for innovation through research and development.

Morocco will also show its solidarity with those who are most vulnerable or threatened by climate change, he said, adding that throughout its presidency Morocco would devote special attention to island states, Africa and to all developing countries.

King Mohammed VI said although the Mediterranean region was probably the area most affected by climate change, the meeting had the potential to become a source of strength for the countries based on solidarity, to rise to the climate change challenge and collectively build the resilience needed.

“A region affected by most of the climate change impacts, the Mediterranean is in a position to turn the necessary mitigation and adaptation measures into levers for the achievement of inclusive, successful sustainable development,” he stated.

The conference
The MedCOP Climate conference, organised by the regions of Tanger, Tetouan and Al Hoceima, was attended by His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid and gathered a wide range of regional stakeholders with the goal of developing a concise and coherent climate change plan that would feed into the overall climate action agenda for COP22.

At the end of the conference, Regional Presidents, Mayors of Mediterranean cities and local authorities agreed on a Charter for climate governance of the Mediterranean territories.

The conference was attended by about 200 speakers from 30 countries, several hundred participants and included two exhibition spaces, “The Medina of Solutions” and the civil society area, which included stands and pavilions organised by over 100 regional stakeholders including businesses, government agencies, NGOs and the COP22 committee.

The two-day conference included debates, workshops and side-events covering a variety of issues including: the green economy, clean energy transition, migration, climate justice, gender and climate, climate risk, public-private partnerships, among others.

Speakers included the COP 22 Special Envoy and Morocco Climate Champion, Mr Hakima El Haite; the COP 22 Head of Civil Society Activities, Driss El Yazami; COP 22 Head of Public-Private Partnerships, Mr Said Mouline; COP 22 Scientific Committee President, Mr Nizar Baraka; the CGEM President, Meriem Bensalah Chaqroun: Morocco’s Minister Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr Mbarka Bouaida; the Director of MASEN, Mr Mustapha Bakkoury and the President of the Region of Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima, Mr Ilyas El Omari.

During the conference, press conferences and one-on-one meetings were also organised with several key conference speakers for a group of 26 African journalists who were in Morocco as part of an effort to raise awareness among the African media community on climate change issues and the upcoming COP 22 in Marrakech on November 7, 2015 to November 18, 2016.

The 3rd edition of the MedCOP Climate change conference will take place in Sicily, Italy next year while the 4th conference would be in Sousse, Tunisia.

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           The Paris Agreement was opened for signature on April 22, 2016 at a high-level signature ceremony convened by the Secretary General in New York. At that ceremony, 174 States and the European Union signed the agreement and 15 States also deposited their instruments of ratification.
           As of June 29, 2016, there were 178 signatories to the Paris Agreement.  Of these, 20 States have also deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance or approval accounting in total for 0.40 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions.
           In accordance with Article 21, paragraph 1, of the Paris Agreement, the Agreement shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 % of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with the Depositary.

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