Reflections on COP22 from Earth Guardians Africa.
Mensa Tsedze, Earth Guardians Africa Crew Director
Udeh Chiagozie, Plant for the Planet
This past November, the UN Conference of Parties popularly referred to as COP22, ended in Marrakesh with Countries from all over the world coming to an agreement named the Marrakesh Action Proclamation. COP22, which was beautifully hosted by the government and people of Morocco, most importantly set a deadline of 2018 for the completion of a rule book that will guide the implementation of the Paris Agreement from COP21. The Paris Agreement set the tone for discussion in Marrakesh since all Parties had signed before or during COP21 and about 115 countries have ratified it so far. It helped shape the discussion to focus more on steps for implementation of the climate agreement.
An important aspect of every COP since the COP19 in Copenhagen has been the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Established in 2009, the fund is expected to see $100 billion contributed by participating parties, especially those from the Global North, untill 2020 towards mitigating the effects of climate change. Implementation of this has been a major problem because since the start, not more than $12 billion has been contributed to the fund and COP22 was the first of any COP to see the GCF accessed by member states. Liberia was granted $2.2 million approved and $2.9 million was approved for Nepal. The UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) is expected to approve up to 20 more requests soon in order to bring the combined sum accessed from the GCF to $2.5 billion. However, if we must achieve the targeted climate action plan, the target of the GCF must increase and more countries will need to be able to access it faster. In the end, there was something to celebrate when some parties agreed that with the current realities, the billions of the GCF must be transformed into trillions in order to achieve the global target on climate change solutions.
The Election of Donald Trump
The election of Donald Trump as the new President of the US which came on the second day of COP22 had a major impact on the discussion. As soon as the election results became obvious, it triggered palpable fear in most member states owing to Mr. Trump commitments in the build-up to the election, which at best, represented climate denial. This put serious doubts on the position of US on the Paris Agreement. However, the fear was doused when the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, arrived at the COP venue to deliver a press conference. He assured the global community that the US will not pull out of the Paris Agreement and that Mr. Trump will find it extremely difficult to do so if he ever wishes for such. That did not stop many member states from directing comments to the US during the plenary sessions. Fiji Island made a very emotional appeal to the US during the closing plenary to come to their rescue as it did during the Second World War. The Head of Fiji delegation specifically called on Donald Trump to support efforts in fighting climate change and help his country to secure land space in the US to relocate their population at risk of displacement due to climate change. Going by recent happenings, it does appear that Donald Trump will not be as much of a threat to climate change as he previously appeared.
Africa at COP22
It was a great outing for African countries at the COP22 especially with Liberia being the first African country and one of the very first two member states in the world to access the GCF. However, much of the attention for Africa was understandably drawn by the host Morocco which hosted many side events to boost their growing reputation as an anchor nation for Africa. Morocco’s gigantic solar plant projects, Nor 1 and Nor 2 in Rabat, were a must-visit best practices center for most delegations at the COP.
Uganda earned a great amount of praise for their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and the meticulous plan of the country towards achieving it. In fact, the country was seen as an example of best practice country in terms of NDC and other African nations were urged to emulate Uganda.
One of the issues that came up was the perceived lack of support from developed countries for nations in Africa towards mitigating climate change. While developed countries admitted this fact, they also pointed at a lack of bankable projects from most African member states urging them to work more on the sustainability plans of their projects before seeking funding.
China took the lead on South Asian Cooperation on climate change to another level by offering $3.21 billion to developing nations progress which it announced last year in Paris during COP21. This was announced during the side event at the China Pavilion organized by China, Morocco and the UN. More countries from the Global South are seeking to benefit from the support China is offering as the nation had already declined contributing to the GCF preferring to put its funds towards supporting cooperation among developing countries. The Africa Pavilion hosted many events mostly focused on renewable energy, agriculture and adaptation. The continent will see a lot of infrastructural development in the next few years that will support climate smart development.
On a light note, the African Pavilion was the best place to be at the COP22 as it had a specialized WiFi and always offered proper “food” to its guests!
Earth Guardians at Cop 22
This COP22 as before, has seen the participation of young people, many networked under the banner of YOUNGO or individually. Several activities were organized by youth organizations at different side events in both the Blue Zone and the Green Zone. The organization "Plant for the planet" during this COP distributed chocolates called "change chocolate" to the different delegates of the countries participating in the negotiations. Earth Guardians, although not officially delegated to this COP, had several of its members participate either in another official delegation, as negotiators or as observers. However, Earth Guardians came to different events, musical, press conferences, and participated in many other ways. Earth Guardians globally will continue to monitor whats happening with the Paris and Marrakesh agreements and are excited to see them implemented as soon as possible!