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Resolving climate change question

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Gas flaring. PHOTO: www.gasflaretracker.ng

Gas flaring. PHOTO: www.gasflaretracker.ng

Appraising the outcome of the just-concluded climate conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, CHINEDUM UWAEGBULAM who attended the COP 22, writes that countries made crucial progress in building the foundation to support the Paris agreement, and negotiators agreed to develop a clear roadmap in order to finalise the rules of the climate deal by 2018.

No post-Paris agreement could have given hope and delivered promise of a just, sustainable and resilient future than the Marrakech’s Climate Change conference tagged COP22, in Morocco, last week.

No doubt, there has been an accelerated global climate action across a broad range of areas in countries as they fast-tracked the political and practical aims of the historic Paris Climate Change agreement.

The Paris Agreement adopted by consensus in December last year, starts in the year 2020 and backed by 195 countries. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame, which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

The Marrakech UN Climate Change Conference brought together over 22,500 participants, including nearly 15,800 government officials, 5,400 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and 1,200 members of the media.

Negotiations focused on matters relating to the entry into force and the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the joint high-level segment under 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The 12th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12), and, with the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement brought together over 70 heads of state and government, in addition to ministers and heads of delegation to generate political will.

Parties adopted 35 decisions, 25 under the COP, eight under the CMP and two under the CMA, that: provide guidance on the completion of the work programme under the Paris Agreement and decide that the Adaptation Fund should serve the Paris Agreement; advance the preparations for the entry into force of the Paris Agreement and CMA; adopt the terms of reference (ToR) for the Paris Committee on Capacity- building (PCCB).

Similarly, delegates approved the five-year work plan of the Warsaw International Mechanism to address loss and damage associated with impacts of climate change (WIM) Executive Committee (ExCom); addressed long-term finance; provided guidance to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF); adopted the ToR for the third review of the Adaptation Fund; and adopted a revised scale of contributions to the Trust Fund for the core budget of the UNFCCC in 2016-2017.

The international political response to climate change began with the 1992 adoption of the UNFCCC, which sets out a legal framework for stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

The Convention, which entered into force on 21 March 1994, has 197 parties. In December 1997, delegates to COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, agreed to a protocol to the UNFCCC that committed industrialised countries and countries in transition to a market economy to achieve emissions reduction targets.

These countries, known as Annex I parties under the UNFCCC, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by an average of 5 per cent below 1990 levels in 2008-2012 (the first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on February 16, 2005 and now has 192 parties.

In December 2015, at COP 21 in Paris, France, parties endorsed the Paris Agreement that specifies that countries will submit progressively ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and that aggregate progress on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation will be reviewed every five years in a global stocktake. The Paris Agreement entered into force on November 4, 2016.

The conference saw a wave of new commitments, adding to the thousands announced in the run up to the Paris climate conference last year. Countries pledged more than $81 million to the Adaptation Fund, surpassing its target for the year and over $23 million to the Climate Technology Centre and Network, which supports developing countries with climate technology development and transfer.

The Green Climate Fund (GCF) announced the approval of the first two proposals for the formulation of National Adaptation Plans: Liberia for $2.2 million and Nepal for $2.9 million. Another 20 countries are expected to have their proposals approved soon with up to $3 million each. Overall, the GCF is on track to approve $2.5 billion worth of projects.

At COP 22, seven developing countries presented updates and opened themselves to examination by their peers on how they are moving to a low carbon economy. This fits into delivering a system for monitoring, verifying and reporting actions and opens the door to greater ambition under their climate action plans, called NDCs.

Likewise, a club of subnational governments, the Under 2 Coalition, who have committed to reduce their emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2020, announced their membership growth to 165.

Multi-billion and multi-million dollar packages of support for clean technologies; building capacity to report on climate action plans, and initiatives for boosting water and food security in developing countries were also among the many new announcements and initiatives.

But, because it is now clear that Nigerian government is showing more commitment and ready to progress across key areas of climate action, including climate finance, adaptation, capacity building, technology and gender-responsiveness.

The presence of President Mohammadu Buhari in Marrakech doused tension that the country as a fossil fuel producer might lag behind in meeting its NDCs, target to achieve Paris agreement.

True, there have been unwavering government’s policy actions aimed at tackling climate change through environmental sustainable efforts.

In Marrakech, President Buhari rallied international support for the clean-up of Ogoniland in the Niger Delta and the resuscitation of the Lake Chad Basin. He also restated the country’s programme to attract climate finance through the green bonds and ensuring reduction in emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.

“We have reflected our determination for green growth in my country’s ambitious Intended Nationally Determined Contribution. We have also announced our plans to reduce emissions by 20 per cent by the year 2030, with the intention of raising this target to 45 per cent, with the support of the international community. This is one of Africa’s most ambitious Intended Nationally Determined Contributions – covering all emissions from all parts of the economy.

“ The Lake Chad Basin for example, has shrunk to a mere 10 per cent of its original size, and this has seriously affected the livelihood of over 5 million people and contributed to the growth of insecurity in the region, including the emergence of Boko Haram as a terrorist group. Hence the urgent need to resuscitate Lake Chad. In this regard, I seize this opportunity to express gratitude and appreciation to those who have responded to our call and to encourage other well-meaning partners to join in our efforts to revive the Lake Chad Basin,” Buhari said.

Besides, Buhari affirmed that Nigeria has no choice but to key into the global action on climate change. “In Nigeria for instance, the impact is being felt by the more than 2.1 million people displaced by devastating floods that the country has continued to suffer since 2012. If not addressed by 2050, the human and financial cost would be colossal. For us in Nigeria, the larger dimension of the challenge goes beyond emission rights. Survival rights are also at stake.”

He appealed to the global community to recommit themselves to the achievement of the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement that they collectively signed in 2015 for the benefit of this and future generations.

Even amidst uncertain political moments, civil society movements led by Climate Action Network (CAN) welcomed that governments strongly reaffirmed their resolve to work together on implementing the Paris Agreement. “That these climate talks took place in Africa, a continent particularly vulnerable and ill-equipped to tackle climate change, would give reason to believe that developed countries would commit, with certainty, increased support for adaptation beyond their current, inadequate plans.


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