Opinion: What will COP22 commitments look like in practice?

By Nick Moss 01 December 2016

The 22nd Conference of the Parties concluded with the adoption of the Marrakech Action Proclamation. What will COP22 commitments look like in practice? Photo by: COP22 

Last year in Paris, 195 governments came together and agreed to a monumental global climate deal to  hold global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures (global temperatures recorded between 1850-1900), and strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Now the hard work begins. In early November, governments, private sector and civil society have gathered in Marrakech, Morocco, at the 22nd Conference of the Parties to begin the hard work of determining how to implement the Paris agreement. One hundred and ninety-five nations came together to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris agreement with the Marrakech Action Proclamation.

This discussion and direction of change must now translate into actions taken by donors and practitioners to support the delivery of the Paris agreement.

Moving forward with the NDCs

One of the successes of the Paris agreement was the submission of “nationally determined contributions.” In these, countries’ proposed activities to lower their carbon emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Despite the ambition and buy-in these represented, they were often simply a long list of potential activities. Marrakech provided an opportunity for parties to discuss how best to go about implementing their contributions, but with such a complex task it was unlikely they would reach a conclusion this year. However, individual countries are already moving ahead with implementation.

As one of the biggest emitters in Africa, Nigeria took the lead by submitting an ambitious set of actions. The Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility has been providing support to the government of Nigeria to in the development of their road map to implement these activities across government ministries.

NIAF has also supported the government in the development of the world’s first sovereign green bond which will be important for attracting finance to implement the NDC. The work has demonstrated that ministries leading on the implementation of NDCs require support and capacity to facilitate cross-departmental dialogue. Donor support could focus on planning, communications, engaging stakeholders from the private sector and civil society, accessing funding and coordinating other development partners’ inputs. Without this, future sectoral plans and investment strategies to implement climate change commitments risk being created in isolation and capturing only limited buy-in from implementing ministries.

Mobilizing and improving access to climate finance

Climate finance remains central to achieving the Paris agreement. The Paris agreement set an ambitious target of raising $100 billion per year by 2020 to support mitigation and adaptation activities. One such activity is The Green Climate Fund, which was established with the aim of facilitating the flow of finance from public and private sources to various types of climate projects. In Marrakech, despite a new road map outlining how the $100 billion per year would be achieved by 2020, many remain concerned about the flow of finance to developing countries.

So far just 8 percent of climate finance committed has actually been disbursed. While the GCF approved $745 million at its most recent board meeting in October 2016, there remains a widely held view that the flow of finance has not yet matched the scale of the need.

It has been suggested that this is in part due to the lack of viable projects available and to some extent uncertainty regarding the rules of the game for accessing GCF support. In Southern Africa, the Climate Resilient Infrastructure Development Facility has been working with various governments and regional institutions to support the development of project proposals to the GCF.

It is clear from this experience that some governments need a degree of support to develop a pipeline of viable low carbon and climate resilient projects, including assistance in the initial scoping or concept development, design and proposal preparation. Facilities such as CRIDF that provide project preparation support can be a very useful mechanism for governments to draw on to help in developing proposals. More such facilities are required if climate finance targets are to be met in time.

Creating markets for climate technologies

The Paris agreement placed an emphasis on engaging the private sector and business, and the development and sharing of new technologies with developing country partners. In Marrakech there was further affirmation of countries willingness to embrace new technologies. For example 47 of the world’s most vulnerable nations, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Haiti, pledged during COP22 to generate 100 percent of their energy from renewables.

Implementing these elements of the agreement and subsequent commitments can contribute to local economic development. But creating new business sectors and disseminating technologies requires the right market conditions.

There are a number of projects across several countries supporting the development of markets for new technologies, such as Solar Nigeria, ELAN and Sierra Leone Opportunities for Business Action. These projects have been supporting the development of renewable energy sectors, working with businesses to improve business and financial management, identifying routes to market and developing sales and financing strategies.

Support successful partnerships

The Paris agreement encourages countries to “explore solutions to mitigation and adaptation cooperatively.” As well as technology, developing countries need the resources, knowledge and work-force of a range of different partners from civil society, public and private sector. Paris has already been the springboard for a number of potentially transformative partnerships focused on a range of issues from solar to cities. In Marrakech, a new initiative called the 2050 Pathways Platform was launched, which brings together a variety of national governments, cities, states and companies to help other countries develop their own midcentury strategies.

However, creating effective partnerships that can deliver the needed innovation and change is complicated. Our work in facilitating successful partnerships between stakeholders from governments, private sector and civil society has demonstrated the importance of building clear institutional frameworks that encourage cooperation, including effective leadership, clear roles, information sharing and transparent reporting.

In addition, they need access to expertise and knowledge which can help to deliver their wider vision. However, donor agencies have a role to play in providing the necessary technical and financial resources to support such partnerships.

Paris represented an important milestone in our collective efforts to tackle climate change. Marrakech represented the next step to achieving low carbon economic development. However, the international community needs to move beyond negotiations to action. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, but experiences from ongoing program delivery provides important lessons that should be taken into by government and donors when considering next steps.

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About the author

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Nick Moss

Nick Moss is a senior manager in the infrastructure and climate change team at Adam Smith International, with a background in climate change advisory and management of large scale technical assistance projects. He has previously supported and managed the delivery of technical advisory services to DFID, the Global Green Growth Institute, UNDP, NORAD and the World Bank. Throughout this work, Nick has lead on technical delivery program oversight and management, client and stakeholder liaison and financial oversight. Nick’s particular area of expertise is in climate change projects, finance and project development and he has supported and worked on donor funded projects in the South Pacific, Africa, Asia and South America.


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