The Marrakech Climate Change Conference – A brief overview
From 7-18 November 2016 the UN Climate Change Conference will be held in Marrakech, Morocco. Delegates from all over the world will congregate to continue work under the UNFCCC on climate change issues. The Marrakech Conference is the next step in the global effort to address climate issues building off the 21st COP in Paris last year.
Who will meet?
The Marrakech Conference will include the meeting of 5 different negotiation bodies under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The different bodies under the UNFCCC are:
- Conference of the Parties (COP) – It is the supreme decision-making body and will hold its twenty-second meeting.
- Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) – It reviews and takes decisions to promote the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol. It will hold its twelfth meeting.
The COP and the CMP are the most important and influential bodies. They meet annually during the same period and have similar functions. At the end of their conferences they ultimately adopt their decisions. Due to the importance of these bodies, the Marrakech Conference is also referred to as COP22/CMP 12.
There are three other subordinated bodies, which serve the COP and the CMP and which also meet during the two weeks of the Conference:
- The Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) – It will hold its forty-fifth meeting in Marrakech and supports the COP and the CMP, e.g. through responding to scientific, technological and methodological questions and through providing assessments of the state of scientific knowledge relating to climate change and its effects.
- Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) – It will also hold its forty-fifth meeting and supports the COP and the CMP through the review of the effective implementation of the Convention and its Kyoto Protocol and further through strategic actions to enhance implementation and to strengthen its means.
- Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) – The APA was established at COP21. It will complete its first meeting, which has already started in Bonn in May2016. It supports the COP in implementing the Paris Agreement.
What’s the starting position?
The Marrakesh Conference will build on previous conferences and decisions, especially the Paris Agreement. The Paris agreement is the first worldwide climate agreement, with some viewing it as a strong political message and a historic turning point in climate change issues.
Through signing the Paris Agreement, the parties pledge themselves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels”.
The Paris Agreement will enter into force once 55 parties, accounting for at least 55% of total global emissions, have ratified it.
185 UNFCCC members have signed the pact. 60 parties have already ratified the convention accounting for 47.76% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. So the first threshold is reached. This happened on 21 September 2016.
In May 2016 a UNFCCC Climate Change Conference took place in Bonn, Germany. The SBSTA, the SBI and the APA met and consulted about the implementation of the Paris Agreement. It was the first session of the APA, so initially it had to set up its agenda. Furthermore the bodies established a timetable for the following negotiations, especially for the Marrakech Conference.
What are the main points of negotiation?
The main work step at COP22 will be the development of the Paris Agreement Rulebook. Due to the desired entry into force, the COP needs to discuss transition mechanisms. The way of adapting practices in the different countries to implement the shared goals of the Paris Agreement must be worked out. In this context the possibilities and advantages of renewable energies will be an important topic.
Another issue in this context is the “Inclusiveness”. The COP has to negotiate which differences arise between the parties, who have already ratified the Paris Agreement and the parties who have not. On the one hand, the Paris Agreement is broad-based, so all parties should be able to participate. On the other hand a certain extent of “Inclusiveness” would encourage the parties to ratify the Paris Agreement as early as possible. Therefore the COP will discuss modalities, which are able to push the ambitions and actions of the parties without completely excluding. The COP must strike the right balance between these positions and make sure that there’s no loophole to avoid the ratification of the Paris Agreement.
Furthermore, the COP will review and discuss finance issues, especially possible approaches of financial support of developing countries. Finance working groups will report about the outcome of their observations.
Moreover the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (Loss and Damage Mechanism) will be reviewed. COP19 established the Loss and Damage Mechanism in November 2013 in Warsaw, which is an approach to support developing countries, because they are in particular vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. With regard to the meanwhile observed effectiveness and limitations, it will be discussed how the Loss and Damage Mechanism can be enhanced.
COP22 is referred to as the “COP of action”, which is a desirable aim. In a few weeks we will see, how the parties put their aims effectively into practice.
 Aide memoire by the Presidencies on the informal consultations convened on inclusiveness, http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/marrakech_nov_2016/application/pdf/eif_summary.pdf
 Aide memoire by the Presidencies on the informal consultations convened on the review of the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage, http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/marrakech_nov_2016/application/pdf/wim_summary.pdf