The Aftermath of COP22 – A Reality Check for Fighting Climate Change

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Amid the Trump elections and fake news outrage, a summit was held in Marrakech Morocco dedicated to Climate Change. The summit named COP22 was held in November 2016 and presented a significant reality check for the ambitious goals  that were set by the Paris Agreement. With 2018 as the next major checkpoint, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) began to: reevaluate those ambitious goals set by the Paris Agreement, and ratify it to add  more countries. With the commencement of the summit, the ratifications made during the Paris Agreement have been passed into law, as the number of national commitments surpassed 55% of global emissions. [1] The newest members who have ratified the Paris climate change agreement include Australia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Finland, Gambia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Pakistan, and the UK.

One major cause for concern during the summit is skepticism regarding whether or not goals set by the Paris Agreement will be met as well as the transparency of the cooperations between nations. Voluntary national emission targets have not had the desired effect as countries like the USA that  contribute over 16% of global emissions for CO2 have yet to commit to cut back their emissions. [3] With only a year left until the next checkpoint, the COP22 summit focused on improving current agreements to make countries more accountable instead of laying down more policies. On the bright side, improvements were made to the agreements of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, which is a coalition of developing countries committing to ultimately reach 100% renewable energy. The proposed strategy was to have rich nations contribute USD 100 billion to developing countries so that they can transition to renewable energies. This will reduce the need for developing countries to consume and invest in cheaper fuel options. One clear problem with this commitment is Climate Finance. The US, Germany and, and UK contributed: USD 50 million to improve carbon accounting in developing countries, USD 23 million for a centre to share clean technology expertise, and Germany single handedly replenished the adaptation fund with USD 80 million. [5] Although these numbers show progress, it is only a drop in the bucket for the goal of USD 100 billion by 2020, set by the Paris Agreement. The COP22 summit did not produce any significant new financial pledges for ratified nations but instead worked on clarifying financial contributions nations need to make, highlighting the need for adaptation funds to the poorest nations who are being affected by climate change the most.

The summit marked the emergence of clear demands from African countries. These demands include more funding to enforce the goals set by the Paris Agreement and mechanisms to move away from dependence on foreign aid. The ambitious African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI) will be a self-sustaining initiative that plans to achieve 10 gigawatt of additional generation capacity by 2020 and 300 gigawatt by 2030. [1] This initiative will attract investors in public and private realms due to its highly ambitious results and profit margins.

Now that the summit has ended and U.S. presidential elections are finished many questions are being asked as 2018 approaches. Trump has famously proclaimed that upon his ascension to the presidency he would disengage the United States from the Paris Agreement established by Obama administration. Moving forward, if the Trump administration sticks to their claims it would mean the loss of support from the USA who carry the second highest emissions in total kiloton, up to 5,335,000kt in 2014, the USA accounts for approximately 16% of global CO2 emissions and without their support on this agreement it would be almost impossible to achieve the goals set by the Paris Agreement. [4]
Just north of the USA, Canada is holding firm to commitments made in the Paris Agreement as well as spearheading other initiatives. Canadian Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, stated during the summit that since COP21 Canada has negotiated an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down hydrofluorocarbons in air-conditioners and refrigerants. [5] Canada has also co-chaired the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and are implementing new measures to reduce emissions from aviation under the Civil Aviation Organization. Like many developing nations including China who are investing billions into renewable energy, Canadians are also committing more resources to increase innovations in climate resilience and adaptation technologies. The future although still uncertain, is without a doubt moving towards a low carbon way of life. [2]

References

[1] http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/11/10/7-things-you-missed-while-trump-hogged-the-headlines/
[2] http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/climate-change/science/climate-change-basics/climate-change-101-1/?gclid=Cj0KEQiA56_FBRDYpqGa2p_e1MgBEiQAVEZ6-87_35Dye_ytxNfP-dKANh_5pTRa88YNDFzLchAUvvkaAveA8P8HAQ
[3] http://www.ipcc.ch/index.htm
[4] https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data
[5] http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do?nid=1155259

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