Full speed ahead to COP 22: assessment and prospects

Summary

On 4 November, COP 22 is opening in Marrakech. After Paris in 2015, when some 195 countries signed a historic climate agreement, what should we expect from this new edition? What headway achieved in Paris will be consolidated in Marrakech? Which as yet unresolved questions will be covered at the event?
As a reminder, we look back at the progress achieved at COP 21 and the issues that await heads of state, citizens and businesses at COP 22.

04Nov.
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Reading time: 4 minutes

Progress at COP 21

A historic meeting, COP 21 sealed a common ambition for climate policies. The final treaty marked a historic agreement between the countries, making it possible, when it takes effect in 2020, to fight climate change and drastically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, thus curbing global warming to « well below 2° celsius”. The ideal goal is 1.5° celsius.

Another ambitious aim is to achieve carbon neutrality after 2050: a principle whereby states, businesses and authorities offset their greenhouse gas emissions through “carbon sinks”.

Lastly, COP 21 concretely reaffirmed the principle of solidarity between the countries of the north and south, based on an acknowledgement of the « shared but differentiated responsibilities » cited in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992). Financial aid for countries of the south was approved, with those of the north undertaking to pay $100 billion to the southern countries each year, starting in 2022, to finance policies furthering the fight against the climate change affecting them.

What prospects are in store at COP 22?

COP 22 needs to provide answers to several unresolved questions. What will happen after 2025 when the Green Fund no longer supports the economic transition of southern countries? Will there be aids to assist their integration of renewable energies over the extremely long term? In this respect, the fact that this 22nd Conference of the Parties is being held on African soil is highly symbolic, demonstrating countries’ determination to work on a shared ambition, paying close attention to the specific needs of developing countries regarding their energy transition.

To take the headway achieved by COP 21 further still, two other topics could be discussed in Marrakech in November. The first concerns the use of legislation to regulate the use of fossil energies (oil, gas, coal, etc.) – because as we learn from a scientific study published in the magazine Nature, to achieve the global warming objective of under 2° celsius, the use of these resources will need be largely limited, and means leaving nearly 80% of current fossil energy reserves in the ground.

The second point still to be discussed is allocating a price to carbon. The issue now concerns the adoption of an international “malus”. The proposal was made during COP 21, but not included in the final agreement in the end. If COP 22 relaunches the debate on this idea, the form taken by the malus will need to be defined: a tax, carbon offsetting or a blockchain application. All this shows that we still need to devise a great deal more to save our planet, and that is crucial for COP 22 to produce decisions and actions. So, full speed ahead!

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