CAMoreland member to attend COP22 UN climate conference in Morocco

October 10, 2016 at 3:55 pm Leave a comment

Climate Action Moreland member John Englart will be attending the UN climate conference COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco (official COP22 site) from November 7-18 as an official NGO observer for Climate Action Network Australia (CANA). He attended the Paris climate conference and published ongoing reports of the negotiations and Australia’s role in Paris COP21.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop broke the news publicly that Australia had belatedly joined the Coalition of High Ambition in the final days of COP21 in a tweet to John Englart Subsequently, Australia has been shunned from an informal meeting of the Coalition of High Ambition in New York for failing to walk the talk on high ambition climate action.

The Paris agreement will come into force in record time on 4th November 2016 just before the Marrakech conference starts. But Australia did not fast-track the treaty approval process, so our diplomats will be on the sidelines as observers of the first Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting for the Paris Agreement (CMA1).

Climate Action Moreland made a submission (PDF) to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties recommending early ratification and also pointing out Australia is already not acting in good faith to the agreement. (See all submissions)

The following is an abbreviated version of John Englart’s Article published at

A pivotal announcement occurred at the G20 in China in September when Xi Jinping and Barack Obama jointly announced and formally lodged their national ratification documents. The USA and China are the world’s two largest emitters with toal emissions of nearly 38 percent.

In the last fortnight we have seen India, Canada, the European Union, and even New Zealand ratify this agreement. The response to the agreement coming into force so early from our Federal Government? A very heavy silence.

As of 7 October, 191 countries have signed the agreement, with 75 countries now having formerly ratified with 58.85 percent of global emissions, according to the World Resources Institute Paris Agreement tracker. See the World Resources Institute live app below for which countries have committed:

Australia goes slow on ratification

So where does that leave Australia in this process?

Environment Minister Greg Hunt signed Australia onto the Paris Agreement in April 2016, but the Government chose not to prioritise the tabling of the agreement in parliament early this year. Instead, they waited until after the Federal election, with the Agreement tabled in the House of Representatives on 31 August by Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop. (See details in my Nofibs article)

The Paris Agreement is now before the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties. Public submissions have been undertaken and hearings held. It is likely that after due consideration this committee will recommend ratification by Australia, but it will take some time yet and is unlikely to return it’s report before 8 November, too late for the Marrakech conference.

Our slow ratification process means that Australia will only have observer status at the Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting as the first meeting of the Paris Agreement (CMA1).

It’s a tricky international situation. Quick entry into force of the agreement has meant that many countries like Australia won’t have membership when the first CMA1 meeting occurrs and will be considered observers.

“There’s a real procedural issue in theory, because if you don’t ratify the agreement then you don’t have decision-making power,” said Erwin Jackson, deputy CEO of the Climate Institute.

So it will require careful shepherding by Morocco and the UNFCCC secretariat to ensure inclusivity and progress is maintained. The fine details and ‘rulebook’ for the agreement are still being worked upon. There is a discussion of how governance of the Paris Agreement will proceed at Marrakech at the World Resources Institute.

The post 2020 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) will automatically become Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Assessments have already shown there is still a big gap between national climate plans which on a best case scenario will limit warming to 3C this century, and the goals of limiting temperatures to 2C and strive to reach 1.5C. Attention over time is sure to turn to more ambition for these post 2020 climate plans.

Carbon dioxide pollution is a cumulative problem. The more action we take early in reducing emissions reduces the cumulative amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. So COP22 will have a strong focus on ramping up pre-2020 climate action and ambition by both state and non-state actors.

That should speak to Australia and our low 2020 climate target of 5 percent reduction in emissions. But I doubt our present government will listen. There has been silence over our Copenhagen Accord commitments that involve increasing our 2020 climate targets once conditions were met. Those thresholds have now been surpassed.

Marrakech will be important for the details

My feeling is that this will be more a conference for the diplomats and representation at ministerial level, rather than national leaders. The conference will concentrate on the nitty gritty details of the framework put into place last year.

I am attending this conference as an accredited observer from Climate Action Moreland, a member of the Climate Action Network Australia peak NGO group, who are part of the Climate Action Network (CAN International) global group with member groups in 120 countries.

Each day I’ll try to attend the daily Australian civil society briefings, and the daily CAN International meetings. CAN international, with such a broad membership feeding information and intelligence, does have a measure of influence in the negotiations.

The daily CAN meetings discuss the negotiations and determine Fossils of the Day, and any other awards, in a public event presented each evening. These are often picked up as media stories which can influence climate politics and reporting back in the nation being shamed. CAN International also produce on a daily basis a news sheet – ECO – to give to Party delegates containing witty analysis from civil society of the main issues being discussed.

I participated in the decision to give Australia a Fossil of the Day award at COP21 for comments at a side event made by Julie Bishop about coal being sustainable.

As in past conferences, there will be a high level segment commencing Tuesday 15 November and into Wednesday for Heads of State and Government to attend. This will be the chance for national statements to the COP. Intergovernmental and observer organizations will also deliver brief statements at the high level segment on Thursday, 17 November.

The Marrakech climate conference, meeting from 7 to 18 November, will formerly operate as the:

  • Twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22)
  • Twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12)
  • First session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1)
  • Forty-fifth session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA 45)
  • Forty-fifth session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI 45)
  • Second part of the first session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA 1.2)

Some days of the conference have special themes allocated to them: Tuesday, 8 November is EarthInfo Day; Wednesday, 9 November is Farmers’ Day; Thursday, 10 November is Young and Future Generations Day; Friday,
11 November is BINGO Day (I’m not quite sure what this refers to); Monday, 14 November is Education Day; 15 November is Gender Day; Wednesday, 16 November is Africa Day; Thursday, 17 November is Climate Justice

In the provisional agenda there are three mandated discussions that will occur during Marrakech:

  • The facilitative dialogue on enhancing ambition on mitigation action and the provision and mobilization of support
  • A ministerial high-level dialogue on climate finance with a “focus on adaptation finance, particularly the challenges and opportunities in the mobilization and delivery of, and access to, financial resources at a scale needed to address the increasing impacts of climate change in the context of sustainable development.”
  • Enhancing climate action event conducted by the global climate champions, Ms. Hakima El Haite and Ms. Laurence Tubiana

The work of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) will be important. There are so many finer details in the Paris Agreement still to be fleshed out. This working group started at its first session, held in Bonn, Germany, from 16 to 26 May 2016. Ongoing work includes providing:

  • guidance on mitigation action contained in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This includes facilitating clarity and transparency, and uniform carbon accounting practices in country NDCs.
  • guidance in relation to adaptation in nationally determined contributions (Article 7, paragraphs 10 and 11)
  • developing all the procedures and guidelines for the transparency framework for action and support (Article 13)
  • details for the global stocktake (Article 14, paragraph 1)
  • Procedures for the Mechanism for implementation and compliance (Article 15, paragraph 2)

You will be able to follow the official public proceedings at the UNFCCC Marrakech Climate Change Conference – November 2016 entry site, including live and archived video of any open sessions and media events.

I will try to bring you news on the negotiations, and Australia’s role in them, as well as reporting on some of the side events and NGO protests that happen in the UN Blue Zone.

There might also be some general reports on the Moroccan government programs, such as installing solar panels on the country’s mosques to boost clean energy awareness.(The Guardian) And perhaps sojourns to the Essaouira-Amogdoul wind farm, and the Ouarzazate Noor 1 solar thermal power station (wikipedia), set to become the world’s largest solar thermal power station, when complete.

Entry filed under: news, Policy. Tags: , .

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