Today marked the first day of COP 22 (the 2016 UN Climate Change Conference) in Marrakech, Morocco. I was excited to get my badge and get started!
Two years ago, I had the opportunity to attend COP 20 in Lima, Peru. In the two years in between, a lot has happened on the global stage regarding climate change—most notably the adoption and ratification of the Paris Agreement, which entered into force just three days ago!
It is amazing the difference in the overall mood at the two conferences. At COP 20 in Lima, there was an almost frantic feeling that a groundwork had to be laid for COP 21 in Paris where a new accord was expected to be agreed upon.
But now, at COP 22 in Marrakech, the feeling is quite different. They are calling this year’s UN Climate Change Conference the “COP of Action” because now that the Paris Agreement has entered into force, it is finally time to act to take concrete action to reduce our fossil fuel consumption and accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels toward clean and renewable energy.
this year's UN Climate Change Conference is the "COP of Action"
As it was just the first day of the conference, I tried to talk to as many other delegates as I could to try to get a sense of their expectations for COP 22. One of today’s speakers made some interesting points regarding nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement. Based on current national plans, we are still likely headed for average global temperature rise of 2.7-3.0 °C by the end of the century. It should be noted that in the Paris Agreement there is language stating that the goal should be to keep average temperature rise in that timeframe to below 1.5 °C. In order to achieve that goal, nations will need much more ambitious national action plans. These points were rather effective at highlighting the fact that we need action NOW!
As you probably guessed already, there is a large elephant in the room at the conference—tomorrow’s general election in the United States. Someone made reference to the election at nearly every event that I attended today. The two candidates are on completely different pages on climate change. One believes that it is a hoax, and the other is calling for strong action on climate change. So, as you could imagine, the result of tomorrow’s historic election will be felt significantly all the way over here at COP 22 in Marrakech.
Tomorrow will be an exciting day with COP 22 kicking into high gear, and the US election that will likely end up determining climate change policy in the US for the foreseeable future. Stay tuned!