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START OF COP22: A DAY TO CELEBRATE

The last year has seen a major change in global attitudes towards climate change and how to tackle it. This change started after the Paris Agreement - the first globally binding agreement to fight climate change - was reached in December 2015. Just eleven months later, this agreement has already entered into force - a speed that is unprecedented among global agreements - a clear confirmation of the importance that countries attach to combating climate change and to the myriad opportunities this fight entails.

The Paris agreement was just the start, however. The momentum has continued with the recent successful agreement reached in Kigali, where 200 nations agreed to phase out potent greenhouse gases known as HFCs in a move that could prevent 0.5C of warming this century.

Climate change is becoming one of the few issues where multilateralism continues to work and where countries can pull together. Just as importantly, citizens are taking matters into their own hands with numerous initiatives and projects kicking off; indeed, the determination and dynamism of these projects on the ground is often far higher than that shown by national governments. Citizens are showing the way in the unstoppable transition to a fairer, safer and cleaner world. The challenge the world faces is huge - but not unreachable, especially if we continue to work together, as the determination to bring the Paris Agreement into force in less than a year clearly shows.

That’s why it’s important to celebrate today, 7 November 2016, the first day of COP22, the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The COP is the supreme decision-making body of this international treaty that aims at equipping the United Nations with the tools needed to combat climate change. Since 1995, the COP has met every year to review and assess the implementation of the UNFCCC and any other legal instruments the body adopts with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change.

Last year’s COP21, in Paris, is a hard act to follow. History was made with the signing of the Paris Agreement, but it was only the start of the story. This year, COP22 takes place in Marrakesh, Morocco, and while the outcome of the meeting will not be as momentous as in Paris, expectations are nonetheless significant. If the Paris Agreement set out the vision, the work in Marrakesh will be to turn that vision into reality. COP22 is the time to start turning words into action and to build upon what was agreed in Paris last year.

Thanks to civil society, we have many good examples of how to do that. For many years, citizens have been coming together on initiatives and projects that are effectively tackling climate change while creating jobs, stimulating the economy and enhancing our energy autonomy. Citizens are doing this because they are aware that climate change is already affecting their daily lives and that they can have better, healthier, happier lives if they join forces to fight climate change and its consequences — with cleaner air in towns, bicycles instead of traffic jams, healthier diets with less meat, etc.

World leaders should follow their example. COP22 is the opportunity to connect the real economy and the politics, and to deliver real action on the ground. It is time to take that opportunity.

So what exactly can we expect from COP22? First and foremost is the need for a new agreement to make sure that countries revise their current commitments and ambition on tackling climate change by 2018. The simple fact is that there is a huge gap between the goals agreed in Paris and the actual commitments made by countries; in short, they need to be far more ambitious to have any chance of meeting their target agreed in Paris. To help them set more ambitious targets, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will produce a special scientific report in 2018 about how best to limit global temperature to 1.5C.

Second, it is essential that an earlier commitment made by developed countries to mobilise US$100 billion per year by 2020 to support developing countries’ efforts to address climate change finally comes to fruition, and COP22 should set out a concrete roadmap for the setting up of this fund. Clarity over the timetable will help give developing countries more predictability over what money is available to help them finance their climate change actions, to help them plan more effectively and to leverage more domestic resources. In addition, it is crucial that the core demands of the most vulnerable countries about how the international community can best help them to deal with the irreversible impacts of climate change — so-called “loss and damage” — are addressed.

The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament will send a delegation to Marrakesh in the second week of COP22, from 14-19 November. Our delegation will work to make the outcome of the conference the most ambitious possible by keeping the pressure on national authorities (and especially those from the EU) to live up to their ambition. The names of the Greens/EFA Members of the European Parliament attending COP22 can be found below, along with their social media accounts to follow for live updates direct from Marrakesh. More information can also be found on our campaign’s blogFacebook and Twitter.

 

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