High-level call to fulfil $100-billion-a-year promise for climate actions

The need for developed-country Parties to fulfil the provision of $100 billion annually by 2020 was stressed by all the guests of honour at the opening of the traditional high-level segment of the Marrakech climate talks.

Hilary Chiew and Zhenyan Zhu

OFFICIATING the opening of the three-day segment on 15 November at COP 22, King Muhammad VI of Morocco urged all Parties to translate their commitment of solidarity in the fight against climate change into action and called upon advanced developed countries to honour their commitment in mobilising $100 billion by 2020.

French President Francois Hollande assured 'those hesitating' that most developed countries will do their utmost to mobilise the $100 billion by 2020 and that France will contribute $5 billion per year by 2020, including $1 billion for adaptation.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the UN must continue to advance the moral case and called on developed countries to mobilise the promised $100 billion.

UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson emphasised that provision of finance was an important milestone in the Paris Agreement, and it is crucial that developed countries scale up their commitment.

In light of the recent United States election which will see climate change sceptic Donald Trump occupying the White House, Hollande said: 'The United States as the second largest greenhouse gas emitter must respect the commitment they have undertaken... France can assure you that it will lead this dialogue with the US and its president in openness and respect but with demand and determination on behalf of the 100 states that had ratified the Paris Agreement.'

As of 15 November, 110 Parties have ratified the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November, ahead of COP 22 that began on 7 November.

The high-level segment opening ceremony was preceded by the opening of the first session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA 1). Shortly after declaring the CMA 1 open, COP President Salaheddine Mezouar, who is also the Foreign Minister of Morocco, adjourned the meeting to make way for the high-level segment.

Earlier, King Muhammad VI had welcomed more than 100 heads of state and government and ministers on the red carpet as they entered the convention centre.

King Muhammad VI, in his speech, said the whole of mankind is pinning its hope on resolution to the climate crisis, and priority must be given to tackling the adverse repercussions of climate change growing worse for countries in the South and island states.

He said there are major differences among states and regions, noting that the priorities of advanced nations are not the same as those of developing countries, and there are major gaps in terms of resources.

'The era of colonisation is over. It is our joint duty to work hand in hand. Developing countries must not be pressured to accept decisions that they cannot comply with ... they do not have the necessary means to implement. Wait-and-see attitude and negligence will lead to dire consequences,' he stressed.

King Muhammad VI urged all Parties, 'in the name of our shared destiny, ... to work to translate our commitment of solidarity into actions by providing countries in the South, especially the least developed countries and small island countries, with urgent finance and technology support to enable them to adapt to climate change'.

He called on advanced developed countries to honour their commitment and mobilise $100 billion at least by 2020 which is key to the Paris Agreement; and to facilitate technology transfer and work on development and research. Non-governmental partners were also called upon to give strong impetus to the Global Climate Action Agenda.

(The Global Climate Action Agenda is the continuation of an initiative launched at COP 20 in Lima, Peru, dubbed the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, to promote the involvement of the private sector, particularly businesses, in combating climate change.)

Highlighting Morocco's efforts, King Muhammad VI said the kingdom spared no effort to increase its contribution towards curbing greenhouse gas emissions as the country is among the first to announce its intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) and had taken concrete steps to ensure that 52% of energy supply will come from clean sources by 2030.

UN Secretary-General Ban spoke of the six lessons he learned from a decade of giving top priority to climate change:

The multilateral solution works. This is true for the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals and recent achievements on mitigation.

Heads of state and government must lead.

Whole societies need to engage. The Global Climate Action Agenda generated collaboration between government, business, the financial community and civil society. They demonstrate the power of partnership.

The United Nations must continue to champion the science. 'The current Intended Nationally Determined Contributions will not get us out of the danger zone. The mechanisms within the Paris Agreement to continuously raise ambition based on the best available science [are] critically important. We need to get on a global emissions pathway that limits warming this century to well below 2C and as close down to 1.5C. This means that global emissions need to peak by 2020 and decline rapidly from then on ... I strongly urge all countries to increase the mitigation ambition of their national climate plans by 2018. The private sector must also do much more. And I call for the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies to accelerate the transition to clean energy.'

Fund and expand solutions. 'We need to better anticipate and absorb climate risks and reshape development to be more resilient. The Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction will advance progress. I have also launched a Climate Resilience Initiative.'

The UN must continue advancing the moral case for action. 'I call on developed countries to honour their commitment to mobilize climate finance of $100 billion by 2020 to help developing countries to mitigate and adapt to climate vulnerability.'

UN General Assembly President Thomson said the speed of the entry into force of the Paris Agreement sends a clear message of collective commitment to the world on the urgent need to act on climate change.

Citing catastrophic climate events in recent times, he said urgent action on climate change must therefore be seen as a moral, environmental, scientific and developmental imperative, guided by ambition, action and equity, noting that transforming the global economy in a manner that drives inclusive economic growth while decoupling it from global emissions is needed.

'The aggregate result of all current global pledges by Parties under the Paris Agreement leaves us an "emissions gap" between what has been pledged and what the scientific community tells us is required to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

'Raised ambition and scaled up mitigation action are therefore needed. Here in Marrakech it is incumbent on the international community to pursue these efforts collectively in accordance with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities,' he stressed.

Thomson highlighted that the transition to inclusive low-carbon economies will require a scaling up and mobilising of finance and that the provision of finance was an important milestone in the Paris Agreement. He said it is crucial that developed countries scale up their commitments to mobilise $100 billion annually by 2020 in support of developing countries' climate actions.

'Definition of a clear roadmap to meet this finance target would further strengthen the trust created between Parties in Paris,' he asserted.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa said the day was a historic one as it was marked by the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement.

'We should celebrate, but we should also reflect on how to now accelerate climate action. At the very centre of our work lies the vital need to make climate action a cornerstone of the transformation to truly sustainable development,' she said. 'This must guide us as we build a low-emission and resilient world. We must strike a balance between the needs of societies and the need for a healthy planet. Finding this harmony will protect the one planet we all share and depend on. It will promote prosperity and the well-being of people, especially the most vulnerable.'

Taking the floor as the last speaker of the opening ceremony, French President Hollande recalled the memorable Paris COP in 2015 and described as 'historic' the gathering in Marrakech with the entry into force of the Paris Agreement in record time, saying that the agreement is 'irreversible'.

'We are moving decisively towards a low-carbon model of growth. Today, renewable energy accounts for 90% of new electricity production,' he said. 'France will lead by example by issuing the first sovereign bond next year [2017] for investment in the energy transition. The climate emergency did not stop on 12 December [the day of the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015].'

Hollande said he did not come to Marrakech to remind people of Paris but to call for consistency and perseverance.

He recalled that the role played by US President Barack Obama was crucial, particularly in light of decisions taken with China and others.

'The United States as the second largest greenhouse gas emitter must respect the commitment they have undertaken. It is not only their duty but it is in the interests as well of Americans affected by climate change because no country can be sheltered [from] impacts of climate change.

'France can assure you that it will lead this dialogue with the US and its [incoming] president [Donald Trump] in openness and respect but with demand and determination on behalf of the 100 states that had ratified the Paris Agreement,' Hollande said emphatically.

He said as countries set the goal of limiting temperature rise to 2C and, if possible, 1.5C, they need to step up the pace to implement the Paris Agreement faster.

'In 2018, we need to step up pace for the nationally determined contributions. France wants to lead by example and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2040 and we shall close our coal plants by 2023. I know not all countries are ready for this but France wants to lead and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050,' he declared.

He also said COP 22 must put Africa at the heart of the solution, noting that $10 billion has been pledged for the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative launched in Paris and that France will provide $2 billion over the next five years to the initiative.

Hollande further assured that 'those hesitating must know that most developed countries will take commitment and fulfil the $100 billion by 2020', adding that 'we must do our utmost to mobilise the funding ... France will contribute $5 billion per year by 2020 including $1 billion for adaptation.'

He said some people have the idea that 'all are done in Paris' but nothing is farther from the truth. It is now, he stressed, that everything starts.

'A promise of hope cannot be betrayed. It must be fulfilled here in Marrakech. We are the guardians of the letter and spirit of the Paris Agreement.

'We must remember what unites us [who are] from different religions, convictions, situations, different stages of development ... what unites us is what we have in common and that simply is our planet,' he concluded.

Hilary Chiew and Zhenyan Zhu are senior researchers with the Third World Network.

*Third World Resurgence No. 316, Dec 2016, pp 32-34