‘COP of Action’ turns out to be ‘COP of Distraction’: CSE | Centre for Science and Environment


‘COP of Action’ turns out to be ‘COP of Distraction’: CSE

  • COP22 was supposed to be Action COP meant to flesh out the finer details of the Paris Agreement

  • Paris Agreement came into force much earlier than expected; countries were not prepared for the negotiations as they expected ratification to happen later

  • Election of Donald Trump dominated the deliberations at COP

  • No raise in ambition from developed countries in terms of emission reductions or financial contributions for pre-2020 period

  • Discussions on issues have been postponed to the next COP

Marrakech (Morocco), November 19, 2016: The twenty second Conference of Parties (COP 22) which began here from November 7, 2016, ended yesterday without making any breakthroughs under critical agenda items including agriculture, finance, adaptation and pre-2020 actions. COP 22 was billed as a ‘COP of Action’, but ended up being a ‘COP of Distraction’ -- primarily because of the US election results.

“Parties were not prepared for this meeting as the Paris Agreement got operationalised on November 4, 2016, much ahead of what was anticipated. Therefore, there has not been much progress on Modalities, Procedures and Guidelines (MPG) to operationalise the Paris Agreement with discussions being shifted to the next climate talks,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE, who has been attending the negotiations.

Climate change threat increases

Scientific reports have pointed out that 2016 is the warmest year on record; efforts to curb climate change have been largely insufficient. This is substantiated by the Emissions Gap report released by UN Environment Programme (UNEP) on November 3, 2016 which says to keep the global temperature rise within 2OC, an additional emissions cut of 14 billion tonnes CO2e per year is required by 2030. Despite this, developed countries have not ratcheted up their ambition on finance or emission cuts for the pre-2020 period. “This shows their total lack of commitment and seriousness as historical emitters in addressing the climate change issue,” say CSE researchers.

The election results in the US further slowed down the progress at Marrakech. “With Donald Trump as the president-elect, there is now a big question mark on the survival of the Paris Agreement if the US chooses to opt out of it,” added Chandra Bhushan. 

No breakthroughs on critical issues

  • On finance, the big dispute between the developed and developing countries has revolved around the OECD Report “Roadmap to US $100 Billion” which says that the developed countries are already on a path to reach 67 billion USD (public finance) by 2020 to match their 2020 commitments of 100 billion USD. Developing countries have contested the methodologies and the numbers and have demanded more transparency on the issue.

  • Adaptation: Discussions started on global goal of adaptation but no consensus could be reached. Developed countries were not ready to treat adaptation in the same way as mitigation and no meaningful discussions took place on how to assess adaptation actions and how it could be linked to the stocktaking process. The goal of raising 80 million USD for adaptation finance has been met with pledges announced by developed countries but it is not over and above the climate finance. Adaptation finance still makes up a meager 20 per cent of the climate finance by developed countries.

  • Agriculture: This COP was also called as COP for Agriculture as some major outcomes were expected. Unfortunately, no draft conclusions were adopted for this issue and the US and EU blocked the negotiating paper – it was not even released as non-paper.

  • Loss and Damage: The adoption of a five-year plan has been postponed to next year and the parties have agreed to talk about financial support to address loss and damage. No numbers were tabled, though.

India at COP22

India had no clear position regarding issues affecting its poor, including agriculture, adaptation and loss and damage. The focus was on procedural issues such as transparency framework, global stocktake, market mechanisms and on sustainable lifestyle and environmental justice.

“India did not contribute much to the discussions on the issues that affects its poor and neither the Indian negotiators were willing to openly explain their position on these issues. It publicised sustainable lifestyle and environmental justice. However, it was found wanting and there was no elaboration of what it actually meant by these two concepts,” remarked Bhushan.

For more on CSE and COP22, please connect with Souparno Banerjee, souparno@cseindia.org / 9910864339.

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