Nov. 4, 2016
COP22 begins next week, and the conference is receiving little love and attention from media compared to the high-spirited lead up to COP21 in Paris last year. But arguably COP22 is just as important for the international climate agenda. Here’s why:
- Approximately half of the 193 signatory parties
officially joined the Paris agreement. Certainly, the agreement did enter
into force much faster than expected (crossing the 55 party, 55% emissions
this month), but in order for the agreement to reach its goal of staying
“well below” 2 degrees Celsius, every country needs to formalize their commitments
so that their “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions”(INDC) are no
longer “intended”, but instead a definite reality. COP22 could be another boost
in momentum to do so. Or, if signatory countries don’t like the specifics agreed
upon in this conference, it could threaten to stall the ratification process
for some displeased countries.
even if a substantial level of ratification is achieved, the devil is in the
details. COP22’s goal is to look at the broad strokes that make up the Paris
Agreement and figure out how to make it feasible. Some of these details, like
the Green Climate Fund, may be contentious, but extremely important to
achieving emission goals. Notably, many developing countries listed dual commitments
for 2030 dependent upon the level of international aid they receive. For
example, in Jordan’s INDCs
they said they could reduce greenhouse gases by 1.5% on their own, but they
committed to reducing an additional 12.5% by 2030 conditional on receiving
enough international climate aid. So a reliable Green Climate Fund with
sufficient funds is essential to a significant proportion of developing countries
emission reductions – and crucial in order to stay below 2 degrees Celsius.
will also need to figure out the mechanisms for transferring billions of
dollars annually in climate financing, especially to countries with corrupt governments.
Even North Korea signed the Paris Agreement and conditionally committed
to reducing 32.25% of emissions by 2030 contingent upon international support. But
many countries across the world, including the US, have debated
the consequences of providing aid to North Korea, even for food assistance during
times of extreme famine. It will be a large task for the international
community to find a way to ensure funds are used appropriately.
COP22 will be looking for a generally accepted way to monitor and report
emissions. Many countries across the world value national privacy, but the
future success of the Paris Agreement relies on at least partial emissions
transparency to reliably track progress. Significantly, China and the US have
levels of cooperation for the Paris Agreement, which will hopefully bring a
mutually-accepted monitoring practice for transparent and private governments
In all, the international community at COP22 has a lot of work to do, so give them some well-deserved love.