Monday 21 November 2016

Blog Post 10 – COP Day 4

My last full day was spent catching up on everything that has been happening, catching a few more side events, and getting a grasp on where the negotiations stand. After watching some of the opening statements being made by Parties as part of CMA1 and attending the last Canadian stakeholder briefing, a few of us Canadians sat down to go over what was happening on the negotiating side of things.

            A lot happens at COP, and you could probably write a whole book on what has happened in just the past two weeks. To keep things short and simple, I’ll highlight for you some of the most important and interesting outcomes of COP22.

  • As I talked about in Blog Post 7, CMA1, the first meeting of the Parties under the Paris Agreement (COP21 in 2015), opened at COP22 for the first time. After the opening speeches from each Party (this is a multi-day thing), CMA1 was closed again. As an update from where I left off, next year’s COP23 will not host CMA2; instead, there will be a sort of “progress meeting” and CMA2 will be postponed until 2018. 
  • This postponement was done so that all the countries that have not yet ratified the Paris Agreement have time to do so before CMA2 actually happens and negotiations start. This will ensure that countries are not left behind or otherwise alienated.

Nationally Determined Contributions
  • Nationally Determined Contributions, also known as NDCs, are the intended targets in greenhouse gas reduction and/or adaptation submitted by each Party. These NDCs are typically renewed every 5 years, with the intention being that the targets will increase in ambition every time.
  • Parties at COP22 have agreed to table their next round of submissions by early 2017 in order to discuss the NDCs at the Bonn (Germany) session in May 2017.

Indigenous knowledge platform (IKP)
  •  The IKP is a proposed knowledge-sharing platform for indigenous peoples. The Paris Agreement emphasized the importance of recognizing and supporting the knowledge, practices, and efforts of indigenous communities in climate action. The IKP is designed to share the experiences of indigenous people dealing with climate change.
  • This platform has gained extensive support from many Parties, particularly Canada. Now, the next step is for Canada and other Parties to implement this at home in a meaningful way.  

Climate Finance
  •  “Roadmap to $100 Billion”: an agreement that Parties will contribute to a goal of USD $100 billion per year for climate action by 2020. As of COP22, Parties have agreed to move forward with the roadmap, and have also agreed to achieve a stronger balance between funding adaptation and mitigation, since historically adaptation funding has trailed mitigation funding significantly
  • Adaptation Fund: this fund was originally set to serve the Kyoto Protocol. Discussions at COP22 revolved around whether this fund should, could and would carry over to the Paris Agreement or not; ultimately, as with many financial matters, the Parties were unable to resolve this issue and have agreed to submit their respective views by March 2017 for further discussion.

Loss & Damage:
  • Parties at COP22 approved a 5-year plan for starting to address issues of loss and damage, which refers to the impacts of climate change in vulnerable regions after mitigation and adaptation have happened. The plan will work on problems including slow-onset climate change impacts and non-economic losses (e.g. cultural and identity loss).

Looking ahead to COP23:
  • The Paris Agreement set goals and objectives for international climate action. The Parties at COP22 have agreed to have the timeline and process completed by 2018, with a review of progress at next year’s COP23.

There’s more going on than any one person can keep track of, but these highlights above offer you a sense of what was accomplished at this year’s COP.  

Plenary hall where large negotiations take place

Although I really haven’t explored much of Marrakesh other than the crazy streets between our hotel and the conference site, on Thursday we used dinner as an excuse to go to the medina (the fortified old city area packed with vendors and stalls). The medina is made up of narrow corridors between high-walled buildings, with shops nestled along the sides. According to maps, these corridors are “roads”, which is confirmed by the pedestrians, bicycles, scooters and small trucks all trying to speed down the narrow halls. We had to be careful not to get flattened by the locals racing around in every which way! The medina is a mystical place. The mixture of smells (which alternate between heavenly and repulsive) is enchanting and the variety of shops, stands, and restaurants is eclectic.

Walking through the medina

Since this was our last chance to eat traditional Moroccan food, we made sure to taste local specialties such as tagines and Moroccan salads (which don't resemble North American or European salads in the slightest). For those of you who have been following this blog since the beginning, you may remember me predicting that real Moroccan tagines would definitely overshadow the tagines I make at home. I was definitely right! One particular common combination of flavours really knocked my socks off: zesty lemon chicken with olives and almonds, and of course, couscous on the side! I’ll have to try this one at home.

Standing near the Koutobia Tower in Djemaa el-Fna Square (entrance to the medina)

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