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The COP of Action

The years leading up to COP22 have seen a drastic change in international political response to climate change. In December 2015, at COP21 in Paris, France, parties signed the Paris Agreement that specifies that countries will submit nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and report on progress on mitigation and adaptation efforts. The Paris Agreement marks a fundamental shift in parties’ attitudes towards the climate issue and is the first international climate agreement signed by all top greenhouse gas emitters. The Agreement was the first of its kind where countries of vastly different economic, social and environmental standing such as China, India, USA, EU, Japan, Brazil, etc., came together to recognize the imminent threat of climate change. The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016. The Paris Agreement attempts to keep global average temperature rise well below 2˚C above pre-industrial levels; pursues efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5˚C above pre-industrial levels; enhances global adaptive capacity; strength resilience to climate impacts; and reduces vulnerability to climate change. All parties have agreed to report their efforts via a common transparency framework with support provided to developing countries to increase internal capacity and fulfill their reporting obligations.

COP22, Marrakech was termed the ‘COP of action’. After the Paris Agreement came into force, it fell to the next COP to flesh out the finer implementation details. As a result, the agenda for COP22 Marrakech was primarily technical. While Marrakech would not define the long-term success of the climate effort as it is the first COP after the recently ratified Paris Agreement, there were a number of important issues to be discussed at the conference including (but not limited to) funding, loss and damages (Warsaw mechanism), technology transfer, transparency framework under Paris Agreement and so on.

India’s Position

India’s long-held stance in international climate negotiation spheres was guided by three principles; first, common but differentiated responsibility; second, the per-capita principle; and third, equity rights. According to this stance, developed and developing countries should resolve climate change issues through collective action but responsibilities borne by individual countries should be adjusted as per their current economic status.

India has been clear about its agenda—continued economic growth to alleviate poverty conditions while balancing important environmental objectives, such as reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The outcome for COP21 Paris was a solid agreement from all parties to reduce GHG emissions. With the advent of COP22 Marrakesh, parties, including India, must now begin to actualize commitments to mitigation of climate change. “The importance of sustainable lifestyle anchored for the first time in the climate change agreement was a big victory for India. India has always followed a path of sustainable lifestyle which is based on the principle of need-based consumption. India will continue to push this agenda of sustainable lifestyle at Marrakech. Enhanced pre2020 actions and mobilizing finance in both pre-2020 and post-2020 period remains an overriding concern for India and the group of developing countries. Access to adequate and predictable climate finance especially from funds under the Convention, is needed for successful implementation of the Paris Agreement”, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change stated.

Matters Related to Long-Term Climate Finance Discussed at COP22

The discussions focussed on how to avoid a gap in finance; access and delivery of finance; recommendations on loss and damage; adaptation finance. India highlighted the need to pinpoint sources within and outside the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) framework and called for the reviewing of the terms of reference (ToR) of the financial bodies. Views of the parties differed on a ‘needs assessment programme’ for developing countries. Some parties preferred focussing on developing countries’ access to climate finance, while others supported the idea of focussing on the role of policies and enabling environments. Several parties stressed they wanted to see ‘something robust on adaptation finance’. Further, developing countries urged ‘developed countries to scale up their provision of financial support to developing countries in line with the latter’s increasing need and priorities identified in a countrydriven manner’.

Matters Relating to the Implementation of the Paris Agreement

From the discussions, it was decided that the COP will continue to oversee the implementation of the work programme under the Paris Agreement and work on further guidance in relation to the adaptation communication, including to the component of NDCs referred to in Paris Agreement 7.10 and 7.11, continue to oversee the work on the development of modalities and procedures for the operation and use of a public registry referred to in Paris Agreement Article 7.12. It was decided to convene at COP23, Bonn, 2017, to review the progress on the implementation of the work programme under the Paris Agreement. It was agreed that implementation details for the Paris Agreement will be finalized by 2018. With regard to Article 9.7, parties recognized the need to ensure the development of modalities under this agenda item in time from them to be integrated into the transparency framework referred to in Paris Agreement Article 13. For the technology transfer mechanism, the parties agreed that the initial key themes for the technology framework are innovation, implementation, enabling environments and capacity building, collaboration and stakeholder engagement and support.

Finally, the COP adopts the ToR for the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB) and reaffirms that the objective of the PCCB is to address gaps and needs, both current and emerging, in implementing capacity building in developing countries and further enhance capacity-building efforts, including with regard to coherence and coordination in capacity building activities under the convention. COP25 will review the progress on this front, including need for extension, effectiveness, and enhancement of PCCB.

Marrakech Action Proclamation

The Marrakech Action Proclamation for Our Climate and Sustainable Development (MAP) was an initiative of the Moroccan Presidency. MAP underscores the urgency of the climate change issue calling for the ‘highest political commitment to combat climate changes, as a matter of urgent priority’ and ‘strong solidarity with those countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and underscore the need to support efforts aimed to enhance their adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability’, ‘parties to strengthen and support efforts to eradicate poverty, ensure food security, and take stringent action to deal with climate change challenges in agriculture’ apart from reaffirming the commitment of developed countries to mobilize US$100 billion towards developing countries.


COP22 rose to the challenge of beginning to operationalize the Paris Agreement and carried forward the momentum from the previous COP. With regard to the Paris Agreement rulebook, COP22 made fair progress. Important outcomes included setting 2018 as the deadline for concluding the operationalization of the Agreement and revisiting the so-called ‘orphan issues’ that had not yet been explicitly included on the agendas of the COP including common timeframes for NDCs and Paris Agreement Article 12 (education, training, and public awareness).

India at COP22

Sessions at India Pavilion at Marrakech discussed the importance of sustainable practices. After the inauguration of the Pavilion, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Anil Madhav Dave elaborated on the importance of integrating sustainable practices into daily lives as a way forward in the fight against climate change. Access to adequate and predictable climate finance, especially from funds under the Convention, in both pre-2020 and post-2020 period remains an overriding concern for developing countries. “It is absolutely

critical and necessary that equal focus is given to pre-2020 actions by developed countries under the Kyoto Protocol and that they provide effective finance, technology transfer, and capacity building support to developing countries,” Dave said. “Mahatma Gandhi in his message to humanity had said that his life was his message and that is why his life of simple living based on minimum requirements is a role model for everyone,” Dave added.

Further, over 20 countries including Brazil and France became signatories to the framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA). The initiative is the brainchild of the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi. According to Shri Dave, this legal framework in place, the ISA will be a major international body headquartered in India. Indian climate experts termed it as a ‘good’ initiative which will increase demand, improve quality of energy, and reduce cost of solar energy in developing countries. “The Framework Agreement of ISA was opened for signature in Marrakech on the sidelines of the COP22 to the UNFCCC. This will make ISA an innovative, action-oriented and sui generis international and inter-governmental treaty-based organization that will be registered under Article 102 of the UN charter,” an official statement said.

Overall, COP22 achieved to sustain the momentum of climate negotiations, reaffirming aspirations and clarifying details of the Paris Agreement. However, think-tanks and NGOs in general came out disappointed with the progress made at Marrakech. Think-tanks noted that despite the warning of the latest UNEP report which emphasized the inadequacy of the current pledges, countries have not ratcheted up their ambition on finance or emission cuts.

The Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) applauded the progress made on technical front but expressed disappointment on lack of urgency shown by developed countries on delivering their promise of providing necessary funding to developing countries to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change. Dr Ajay Mathur, Director-General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) at a press conference questioned the delay in funds from the developed world, suggesting that there is a disconnect between the promises from developed countries and materialization of funds.

There were reasons to celebrate at COP22, including the Paris Agreement’s entry into force and many announcements of funding and action by state and non-state actors. While the COP was successful in a number of ways, some experts expressed concerns that delegates were lost in technical details while forgetting that the current pledges are inadequate to stay below 2°C and bridge the estimated emissions gap of 12–14 gigatonnes (roughly equivalent to taking all cars in Europe off the road for 12–14 years). Calls to ratchet up NDCs were left unanswered. On the financial front, the announcement of US$81 million contributed to the Adaptation Fund, surpassing its fundraising target for 2016, helped, but did not fully satisfy urges to also close the finance gap. Such issues will be brought up again at COP23, Bonn, 2017.

Contributed by Ms Shubhi Sharma, Trainee at the Earth Science and Climate Change Division, TERI, New Delhi.

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