Mediterranean countries set tone for COP22 in Marrakesh

MedCOP Climate in Tangier, 18-19 July 2016 [YouTube]

Mediterranean countries have vowed to accelerate implementation of the commitments struck in the Paris agreement last December and push forward a number of national and transnational initiatives to combat global warming, ahead of the end-of-the-year climate summit in Marrakesh.

The MedCOP climate conference in Tangier, which brought together on Monday (18 July) more than 2,000 stakeholders from various countries in the Mediterranean basin, has mobilised participants to take action as the region is seen as one of the most exposed to climate change.

“It is urgent to act before issues related to stability and security become unmanageable,” said Salaheddine Mezouar, president of the United Nations Conference of Partners for 2016 (COP22), referring to the lack of concrete measures to translate the commitments made in Paris.

The Paris agreement was hailed as the beginning of the end for fossil fuel industries and a strong signal to markets for green investment and innovation. But, despite the landmark deal, the promises given by countries to curb their emissions in the run-up to the COP21 will fall far short of the two degree goal. Even two degrees will have serious consequences for people and the environment.

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In his address to the conference, King Mohamed VI of Morocco said that “as Mediterraneans, we have not only socio-economic and geopolitical challenges in common, but environmental ones, due to the vulnerability of our territories.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has confirmed that the Mediterranean region is probably going to be one of the areas most impacted by global warming in the world as temperatures are expected to rise and rainfall could drop by 60% by 2100, with rising sea level in the Mediterranean of 0.4-0.5 meters.

“But the Mediterranean region is in a position to turn the necessary mitigation and adaptation measures into levers for the achievement of inclusive, successful sustainable development,” King Mohamed VI added, noting that the international recognition will come from joint action.

The Moroccan presidency of the COP intends to focus on four areas: the actual implementation of national contributions, a key element of the Paris agreement, the mobilisation of funds and the strengthening of adaptation measures, and technological development.

“We need to encourage countries to adopt voluntary contributions and translate them into integrated public policies,” said the Moroccan Environment Minister, Hakima El Haité, stressing the contribution of parties in Paris was not sufficient to stem climate change.

At the international level, the minister said there needed to be a deal to end subsidies to polluting industries and transfer the funding to the renewables sector also to reorient the financial investment flux.

Climate funding is not the problem

Even though for years the mobilisation of private funds seemed to be the main roadblock in making the switch to sustainable development, experts now point to the lack of projects.

Benoit Leguet, Director General of Institute for climate economics, a Paris-based think-tank, insisted that the over $50 trillion investment needed is not an unobtainable amount. “The money is there, but maybe the projects are not there.”

“Investing so that we cap global warming at two degrees [above pre-industrial levels] is not going to be more expensive if we cap to 6 degrees,” Leguet said, adding inaction would be more costly.

Money must be mobilised from national economies and there is a need to stop thinking in silos.

Mitigation and adaption should be reconciled, experts said. It is better if projects include the two approaches to have a multiplier effect.

At the same time, cities and regions need to bond to lead ‘bankable’ projects. Much of the challenge though remains in the structuring of projects rather than the ideas.

Networks like NAZCA are working at that. The global platform that brings together the commitments to action by companies, cities, sub-national regions, investors and civil society organizations to address climate change has so far registered over 11,000 commitments.

Mutualisation of climate initiatives

“We need to find ways to mutualise a number of projects to make them bankable,” said Guy Fleuret from the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), explaining that some local authorities have the right instinct and initiative but their initiative would be much more appealing if they would use their network to increase investment and chances of success.

Under NAZCA, Turkey for example has boasted 25 stakeholders involved in cooperative activities and 73 individual stakeholders. By comparison, Tunisian stakeholders were involved in only one cooperative action.

Beyond the common political program, there is a clear opportunity to develop a shared strategic climate-development vision for the region, said Fathallah Sijilmassi, secretary-general of the UfM, which brings together EU and southern and eastern Mediterranean countries, acting as a forum to exchange ideas and push for cooperation.

There is a transfer of knowledge that can be done from North-South and vice-versa, added Sijilmassi, pointing for example at the agricultural techniques developed in the desertic areas of the South.

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A number of projects are also being launched via the UfM. The latest to be launched is the Ufm Energy University funded with Scheneider electric. It will offer over 200 free online courses for engineers and professionals of the energy sector from UfM member countries.

Geo-politcal strength

The centrality of the Mediterranean in the Euro-Mediterranean African dimension make partnerships between North and South even more relevant, added the UfM secretary general.

“This centrality today is more important than ever, especially when we talk about migration, but not only,” he said.

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The 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the UNFCCC is scheduled to take place from 7-18 November 2016 in Marrakesh. During COP 22, parties will, inter alia, begin preparations for entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

  • 7-18 November: COP 22

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