COP22: the Paris Agreement is put into action in Marrakech


By endorsing a new multilateral climate regime, the Paris Agreement has given impetus to a new dynamic through its ambitious objectives: to steer countries towards low-carbon and climate-resilient development trajectories; to move towards a greenhouse-gas-neutral global economy before the end of the century; and to channel the financial flows thus required for a profound reconfiguration of economies.

USuch an ambition implies that all the players must now converge towards these objectives. The COP22The so-called "COP for Action" can and should contribute to this.

Building on the momentum of COP21

The Paris Agreement provided a strong signal, and the momentum of its ratification was surprisingly rapid. Who could have imagined, on 12 December 2015, that this text, already signed by 97 States responsible for more than two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions, would come into force on 4 November 2016, just before the start of COP22? It is the fastest international treaty to enter into force in history.

Above all, it provides a long-term framework for action in the fight against climate change. However, it must now be nurtured in order to mobilise the action of all States and non-State actors, without waiting for 2020, the end of the second commitment period of the Kyoto agreement.

Climatologist Valérie Masson-Delmotte looks back on the Paris Accord (, 2016).

At the end of the two weeks of COP22, the success of the summit can be judged by progress on seven key issues.

Three of these issues are the direct responsibility of the Moroccan presidency and the negotiators mandated by the various States. However, the other four are the responsibility of the mobilisation of non-state actors in the framework of theGlobal Climate Action Agendawhich the two "High-performance champions." Laurence Tubiana and Hakima El Haite contribute.

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1. Set universal goals

The first challenge for the negotiators, and in particular the Moroccan Presidency, is to maintain the universal nature of the Paris Agreement, which, by setting the same objectives for all States, developed and developing, includes them in a common regime, even if it remains differentiated according to national circumstances.

The rapid - and unexpected - ratification by States allows the Paris Agreement to enter into force before the start of COP22 and thus the inaugural conference of the Parties to the Paris Agreement is to be held concurrently, with the aim of leading to a package of decisions to be adopted in 2018 at COP24.

This means that States that have not yet ratified the Paris Agreement (within the G20, for example, this concerns Australia, Japan, Russia and Turkey) cannot formally participate in decision-making under the Agreement, but they will nevertheless have to be involved in the discussions in order to avoid later challenges.

Hakima El Haite, the Moroccan Minister for the Environment, and Laurence Tubiana, the French Ambassador in charge of climate change negotiations. UNclimatechange/Flickr

2. Delivering aid to developing countries

Second issue: the details of the means promised to developing countries to help them achieve their objectives under the Paris Agreement need to be clarified.

These include tools and means to: the capacity development of these developing countries for the achievement of the objectives; the mobilization of international financial flows amounting to at least 100 billion dollars per year by 2020; to the implementation of national policies contained in the voluntary commitments of States, now called Nationally Determined Contributions and, finally, to the stimulation of transfers of technology.

3. Assessing progress

The third and final major challenge for negotiators is to begin discussions on the construction of the transparency framework which now includes all the players, and which should make it possible to take stock over time of the progress made in relation to the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

This transparency framework will have to be based on relevant indicators, relating obviously to the greenhouse gas emission inventories of the States, but also to the policies implemented and the sectoral transformations achieved. This transparency framework is essential, as it will inform and guide the action of States, but also that of non-State actors.

This transparency is both a guarantee that current commitments will be met and the main driver for strengthening the ambition of climate action, which remains essential to stay below 2°C of average temperature increase.

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4. Supporting territorial initiatives

Throughout COP22, the initiatives and commitments of non-state actors, supported where appropriate by states, will feed into the global climate action agenda. This non-State mobilization is based on four types of actors.

First mobilization to be confirmed, that of the local authorities. Spearheading the transition towards low-carbon economies, at the forefront of issues related to access to energy or transport, but also to the adaptation and resilience of territories, local and regional authorities - or to use Anglo-Saxon terminology, sub-national actors - have seen their role recognized in the framework of the Paris Agreement.

The networks and coalitions of these actors (ICLEI, United Cities and Local Governments, C40, Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance...) include communities of various sizes, from a few thousand people to California, the world's sixth largest economy. Their smaller size and the coherent "territory" projects they can build around the energy transition allow them to amplify the action of the states.

The fight against climate change is also included in the new urban agenda adopted in Quito a few weeks ago at the Habitat III Conference.

5. Involving the financial sector

The second community to be involved is that of financial sector players, be they insurers, investors, asset managers, bankers or regulators. Although they were not very present on these issues until five years ago, their role was also highlighted by the Paris Accord, with its objective of "aligning financial flows" with climate objectives.

Coalitions have also flourished (Portfolio Decarbonization Coalition, Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change, 5 Voluntary Principles for Climate Mainstreaming...), inviting signatory institutions to assess and publish their carbon risk exposure, reduce the carbon footprint of their portfolios, engage in shareholder dialogue or "disinvest" from fossil fuels.

The events leading up to the COP (Climate Finance Day, IDFC Climate Finance Forum) or during the conference will allow these actors to present their progress and reinforce their commitments.

6. Putting a price on carbon

The third mobilization of actors to be strengthened, even if it is more protean: that of companies setting up internal carbon prices to guide the behavior and investments of their executives, researchers, employees, customers, service providers, etc. These internal carbon prices enable companies to anticipate and sometimes supplement the carbon prices set up by the States.


Map of carbon markets and other carbon pricing mechanisms existing or under consideration around the world. I4CE (2016), Author provided

Putting in place carbon prices is not the alpha and omega of the transition to a low-carbon economy, but it is a necessary condition. This tool has been popularised at the level of companies, local authorities and States by a number of initiatives led by the United Nations and the World Bank (Carbon Disclosure Project, Business Leadership on Carbon Pricing, Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition…).

7. Rethinking agriculture

Fourth and last coalition, strategically important: the coalition on commitments and actions around the initiative. "Triple A - Adaptation of African Agriculture".. This initiative, led in particular by the host country of COP22, is doubly interesting.

On the one hand, climate change poses a particular threat to the continent's often fragile agriculture. Secondly, the prospect of a world neutral in greenhouse gas emissions opens up a vast field of new possibilities for agriculture, for new land use practices and, finally, for biosourced energy sources and materials.

These opportunities must be managed in a coordinated manner and also build on the "4 per 1,000" initiative (increasing the carbon storage capacity of soils by 4 per 1,000), presented by France last year at COP21.

The "4 for 1000" project (Alim'agri, 2015).

No time for downtime

To fulfil its mandate as the "COP of action", the Marrakech Conference must therefore make significant progress on these seven issues. This is in order to strengthen the credibility of the Paris Agreement, while amplifying its capacity to mobilize all stakeholders.

Beyond the individual commitments made by the various players, this could involve an agreement in Marrakech on a roadmap that would help to strengthen the global climate action agenda now and enable negotiators to reach decisions on this issue by 2018 at the latest.

After the success of the Paris Agreement, the climate emergency remains and there must be no let-up: the Marrakech COP must mark new progress.

Benoît LeguetEconomist, Executive Director of the Institute for Climate Economics (I4CE), Louis Bachelier Institute and Patrick CriquiDirector of Research at the CNRS, Grenoble Alpes University

The original text of this article was published on The Conversation.


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