On November 4, the Paris Climate Change agreement came into force. By November 7, when the 22nd Conference of Parties (CoP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) opened in Marrakesh in Morroco, more than 100 countries had ratified the agreement. The enthusiasm for the Paris pact has been unprecedented. The Marrakesh summit could set in motion processes that could make or break the Paris treaty.
Countries are expected to agree to a timeframe to put in place rules pertaining to the implementation of the Paris pact. Addressing the issue of equity between nations is likely to be the greatest challenge to the Paris consensus. Paris jettisoned the notion that the historical culpability of industrial countries for the current levels of GHGs in the atmosphere enjoins on them greater responsibility for mitigating climate change. But it hasn’t, and rightly so, done away with the notion of common but differentiated responsibilities. The pact recognises that though climate change should be a common concern, mitigating it requires some countries to do more than others. This means that the developed countries will have to take on financial and technology transfer commitments. They have been quite parsimonious in this respect. At the Copenhagen CoP in 2009, developed countries pledged more than 100 billion dollars in aid to developing countries by 2020. According to the UNFCCC’s Standing Committee on Finance, less than a third of that amount has accrued so far. If past negotiations are anything to go by, developing countries are likely to insist — and rightly so — that the developed world fulfills its pre-Paris commitments before framing rules for the new compact.
Climate financing has been a longstanding bone of contention between the developing and developed countries. In the run-up to the Paris summit, countries announced measures that will help them reduce GHG emissions. But there is also a consensus that the developing countries lack financial wherewithal, skills and institutions to attain these targets. The signatories to the Paris pact include small island states that are highly vulnerable to climate change. These countries would be justified in arguing that they have done their bit in ratifying the Paris pact. The ball is now in the court of the developed nations.