Global climate

The Morocco climate conference came right after the coming into force on Nov. 4 of the December 2015 Paris Agreement, which has been ratified by 110 countries as of Nov. 15, a pace rarely seen in history.

“The Paris Agreement is a milestone achievement in the multilateral process on climate change,” said Xie Zhenhua, special representative on climate change affairs of China.

The agreement aims to hold the global average temperature rise to below 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and strives to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries, the parties agreed to work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to 100 billion U.S. dollars a year by 2020.

Unlike the top-down approach of the Kyoto Protocol, which is a compulsory order to developed countries to cut emissions, the Paris Agreement, the second legally binding document under the UNFCCC, takes a bottom-up approach.

The international community has pinned high hopes on the Morocco climate conference to give clear direction on how to render the Paris Agreement into concrete action.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and COP22 President Salaheddine Mezouar hailed the Paris Agreement represents a turning point in the history of common human endeavor.

“The agreement is undoubtedly a turning point in the history of common human endeavor, capturing the combined political, economic and social will of governments, cities, regions, citizens, business and investors to overcome the existential threat of unchecked climate change,” Espinosa and Mezouar said in a joint message on the occasion of the entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

“Paris delivered a gift of hope for every man, woman and child on the planet,” the message said. “Today’s celebration can also rest on the assurance that the policies, technology and finance to achieve these goals not only exist, but are being deployed as never before.”

While this unprecedented achievement shows a clear commitment from countries across the globe to tackle climate change, much more needs to be done to translate this commitment into concrete action.

The goal to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid dangerous tipping points in the climate-system means that global emissions must be driven down rapidly from the current level.

Researches showed that even if all current climate action plans of countries were fully implemented, the world is on a path towards a temperature rising of about 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

“We cannot wait too long to translate the science into the policies that are necessary to fix it,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “What we do right now – today – matters, because if we don’t go far enough, fast enough, the damage we inflict could take centuries to undo – If it can be undone at all.”

“We don’t get a second chance,” Kerry said in a speech in Marrakech. “The consequences of failure would be, in most cases, irreversible.”

The daunting task demands global efforts, from developed and developing countries a like, on the principles of equity, common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Developed countries, whose historical emissions contributed to much of today’s climate change challenges, need to do more.

They should set a clearer timeline and a roadmap for the implementation of their promise to provide 100 billion U.S. dollars each year by 2020 to help developing countries address climate change.

Developed countries should also put forward a new, larger funding plan compatible with further climate actions to be taken by developing countries after 2020.

Sustainable development, according to UN estimates, will require 5-7 trillion dollars annually to fund the global transition to a low-carbon economy.

The election of Donald Trump, who once denied global warming as a “hoax” and threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement, has cast a shadow of uncertainty over Marrakesh.

However, Kerry, the U.S. secretary of state, appears optimistic.

“The United States is on our way to meeting all of the international targets we have set,” he said. “Because of the market decisions being made, I do not believe that can or will be reversed.”

“While I can’t stand here and speculate about what policies our president-elect will pursue, I will tell you this: In the time I’ve spent in public life, one of the things I’ve learned is that some issues look a bit different when you’re actually in office compared to when you’re on the campaign trail,” he said.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin is also upbeat.

“We shall have to wait and see what position they will take, but we… expect that they will take a right and smart decision to live up to the world’s expectations,” Liu told reporters on Wednesday.

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said the world is in a race against time.

“We need to transition to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future. I ask each and every one of you to keep up the fight, hold governments accountable, and press for action,” he said earlier November.

Over 50,000 people are reportedly attended the COP22 in Morocco, including around 20,000 delegates, some 30,000 civil society members, over 40 heads of state and 30 heads of government. Enditem

Source: Xinhua writers Liang Wenchao/NewsGhana.com.gh

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