Marrakesh Climate Change Conference: Global warming a matter of urgent priority

Negotiators were still working on the main agenda of the Marrakesh meeting, including the preparation of a rule book for implementation of the Paris Agreement.

Written by Amitabh Sinha | Marrakesh | Updated: November 18, 2016 9:36 am
Marrakesh conference, global warming, climate change, Paris agreement, Donald trump, US presidential elections, news, latest news, world news, international news The proclamation, which calls for the “highest political commitment to combat climate change”, however, got delayed because of disagreements over the text. (source: AP)

After two days of squabbling over the text, countries at the climate conference in Marrakesh issued an ‘action proclamation’ on Thursday evening, saying they had an “urgent duty to respond” to the “alarming and unprecedented” rate of global warming “as a matter of urgent priority”. The proclamation, essentially a political statement, was conceived last week in an attempt to emphasise on the global unanimity in the fight against climate change, after the US presidential elections resulted in the victory of Donald Trump who had, during his campaign, promised to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The Marrakech Action Proclamation for Our Climate and Sustainable Development, as it is being called, was supposed to be issued on Tuesday itself, at the start of the two-day high-level segment during which more than 70 heads of states and governments, and ministers participated. Reports that Trump had already begun preparations for an early pull-out of the United States from Paris Agreement have been circulating at the conference venue since the start of this week.

The proclamation, which calls for the “highest political commitment to combat climate change”, however, got delayed because of disagreements over the text. The final version, read out on Thursday evening, included a reaffirmation of the promise to mobilise USD 100 billion climate finance by developed countries, and a reference to the need to ratify the Doha Amendments of Kyoto Protocol. Both these references, and a few others, were included on the demand of the developing countries.

The Doha Amendments to the Kyoto Protocol, made at the Doha climate conference in 2012, extended the obligation of the developed countries to make targetted cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions up to the year 2020. The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 had initially assigned emission cut targets to the developed countries only till 2012.

Developing countries have been putting pressure on the developed world not to ignore their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2020, now that the Paris Agreement had come into existence. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement is not legally-binding, and does not assign any emission cut targets on any country. Under Paris Agreement, every country decides for itself the actions that it wants to take to fight climate change.

The proclamation took note of the “extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide” in the last one year, including the finalisation and early ratification of the Paris Agreement, and emphasised that this momentum was “irreversible”, since it was being driven not just by governments but also by “science, business and global action of all types at all levels”.

“Our task now is to rapidly build on that momentum, together, moving forward purposefully to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to foster adaptation efforts, thereby benefitting and supporting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals,” it said.

“The Marrakesh Conference marks an important inflection point in our commitment to bring together the whole international community to tackle one of the greatest challenges of our time. As we now turn towards implementation and action, we reiterate our resolve to inspire solidarity, hope and opportunity for current and future generations,” it said.

The proclamation is not the only outcome of the two-week annual climate conference. Negotiators were still working on the main agenda of the Marrakesh meeting, including the preparation of a rule book for implementation of the Paris Agreement that entered into force earlier this month. Among other things, countries were still to decide on a deadline for ratification of Doha Amendments and a roadmap for raising the USD 100 billion that developed countries have promised to mobilise every year from 2020.