UN’s climate conference is officially over – but there is a lot left to do!

(c) Annabelle Avril / WECF

Marrakesh (Morocco) – A historic decision was taken during COP22 to continue on the gender commitments in the Lima Work Programme by developing a Gender Action Plan within the three upcoming years. Yet many argue that this was not the “COP of action” they were hoping for; that many other important decisions have been left to be decided for COP23. We reflect on the outcomes of UN’s international climate conference (COP22).

After the about 6 hours delayed conclusion of the negotiations in Marrakech, UN’s climate chief Patricia Espinosa appealed to the world community: “We must not stop the fight against global warming. There is really a lot to do”. On the last day of COP22, federal environment minister Barbara Hendricks praised the conference in Marrakech as a consequent continuation of the climate protection efforts in Paris. “We have set an important course for the quick and ambitious realization of the Paris Agreement“.

Already on Thursday evening, representatives from 196 countries agreed on the “Proclamation of Marrakesh“, in which the fight against climate change should be “highest priority” and receive “maximum political commitment”. This reinforces the results of the Paris Agreement and underlines the urgent need to stop global warming at 1.5 or 2 degrees. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November and has been ratified by 112 countries so far. The climate protection measures should be implemented in particular in accordance with the SDGs of the UN. These include ensuring gender equality, hunger and poverty reduction, safe drinking water, adequate health care and education for whole of humanity.

German federal environment minister Barbara Hendricks presented in Marrakech the German Climate Protection Plan 2050 (KSP2050), which the Cabinet has adopted at the last minute after a strongly controversial debate. Since no concrete roadmap for the coal exists in the KSP2050, it has been heavily criticized. The international community in Marrakesh, on the other hand, have reacted widely positively to the Climate Protection Plan. The announcement that Germany will raise its climate aid for poor countries by 50 million euros in the adjustment fund and to provide 4 billion euros by 2020 was also very well received.

The African governments presented their pan-African initiatives and partnerships: the African Adaptation Initiative (AAI) and the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). AREI is supported by Germany and France and at least 300 GW of renewable energy will be produced by 2020.

The alliance of the 47 countries severely affected by climate change, the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), said that their members wanted to switch to renewable energies as quickly as possible – to one hundred percent. “We do not know what the other countries are waiting for,” said Edgar Gutierrez, environment minister of Costa Rica. “All countries should start the complete decarbonization and the energy transition or we all will suffer.” With the announcement, the poor states have clearly overtaken richer, industrialized countries.

The clearest renunciation of coal, oil and gas so far is to be laid down in the respective NDCs over the next three years. On the other hand, in spite of all the necessity of economic development, the expansion of coal power in countries like India or Indonesia must be considered sceptical. Russia, Saudi Arabia and China even announced an expansion of nuclear power to achieve their climate goals without taking into account security risks and high costs of the controversial technology.

Gender-sensitive climate policy

In international climate policy, gender is recognized and anchored as an important issue. The “Lima Work Programme on Gender” aims not only at gender parity in participation, but provides also a comprehensive, gender-based approach, both in terms of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change, as well as mitigation and the development and the transfer of technologies for this purpose. This was confirmed in Marrakech by the UN countries by the decision to continue and build on the work programme on gender. The “Lima Work Programme on Gender” is being strengthened, pursued, and an action plan will be developed for a gender-appropriate climate policy. We have played a key role as a leading member of the UN Observer Group “Women and Gender Constituency” in pushing for this development. Climate protection and adaptation to climate change can only be achieved in a gender-appropriate manner.

Despite broad euphoria, at the end, many events at the COP22 Climate Conference made clear that the CO2-reductions previously announced by the states will not suffice to achieve the two-degree goal. Measures against this “emission gap” were requested, but they were hardly formulated in a concrete manner. However, for optimistic conference participants, the steadily falling costs of solar and wind power, means that the turnover to renewables could happen even earlier than expected by the IEA.

As host for the next major state meeting in 2017, the Asia-Pacific region will be the next in line, more precisely the Fiji Islands. However, they have neither the space nor the money to organize a conference with more than 20.000 participants. That is why the summit will take place in Bonn, the seat of the UN Climate Protection Secretariat. The 2018 climate summit will be hosted by Poland.

(c) Annabelle Avril / WECF

We organized several side events on gender-sensitive instruments for climate financing (e.g. energy cooperatives, NAMA, etc.), and “Women’s Empowerment and Leadership” during COP22 and signed a cooperation agreement with AMEE (National Agency for Energy Efficiency Morocco) to implement socially compatible and gender equitable climate protection measures. In cooperation with the UN observer group “Women and Gender Constituency”, which we co-facilitated, gender-sensitive climate solutions were awarded. Among our notable guests were the Hakima El Haiti (Moroccan environment minister) and Amina J. Mohammed (Nigerian environment minister).