Young European Leadership at the UNFCCC COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco

COP 22 Daily Blog – Day 10 (Week 2), Wednesday Nov. 16, 2016

by Yanzhu Zhang [1] and Alexander Pfeiffer [2]

Greetings from the Young European Leadership’s delegation at COP22 here in Marrakech! It is Wednesday of the second week of COP22 conference.

After the first week of the negotiations and well into the second week there are some good and some less encouraging news about these issues. However, while it is probably too early to call it already a success, things are looking promising. On further ambitions in the ratchet mechanism, for example, China stated that it would continue with its ambitious climate policy and try to accelerate decarbonisation despite a potentially unwilling US presidency.

In the aftermath of the US election many negotiators and experts now look towards China and hope for a Chinese leadership in climate actions. At the China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Press Conference, many European journalists, particularly the Germans, seemed to be very interested to learn more about the potential of China-EU collaboration to take over the future climate leadership and ramp-up climate actions.

The High Ambition Coalition, a group of 35 states including Pacific island, African and Caribbean governments, EU member states, the US, Mexico, Canada, and Brazil, gave a similar statement, alas without the US. In the second week’s negotiation, however, pace will have to pick up as current technical discussions around NDCs, baselines, and methodologies progress slowly and many countries criticized the COP Presidency for the slow progress.

Furthermore, negotiators from developing countries said, that the Moroccan government’s first draft of the so-called “Marrakech Call” lacks political balance and reads extremely partial to the interests of rich countries. Some observers argued there would be a backlash if “Marrakech Call” could not reflect the political balance that has been achieved in Paris Agreement. Then and now, the “principle of equity” and “common but differentiated responsibility” is still of high relevance and fought for by the groups of developing countries.

Given this continued pressure, the first draft “Marrakech Call” has been further revised and renamed “Marrakech Action Proclamation for Climate and Sustainable Development” which states major solutions offered to combat climate change. In this proclamation, 196 governments call on non-state actors to take climate action. It reads as

We, collectively, call on all non-state actors to join us for immediate and ambitious action and mobilization, building on their important achievements, noting the many initiatives and the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action itself, launched in Marrakech.

In other news, the High Level Champions announced the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, which clarifies how countries and other actors will work together to drive immediate, transformational climate action.

Later today I went to the press conference of China Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Liu Zhenmin, and asked Mr. Liu about China’s policy support for climate actions of non-state actors. Mr. Liu confirmed that governments and the public sector cannot deal with climate change alone and the private sectors have a tremendous role to play in combating climate change. He explained that China is supporting the private sectors’ innovations and are incentivizing its investments in low carbon solutions.

Towards the end of the day I attended an event with Professor Nicholas Stern from the London School of Economics and Political Science, Professor Robert N. Stavins from Harvard University, and Mrs. Teresa Ribera from the Institute for Sustainable Development. The panelists gave interesting presentations on climate finance and low carbon scenarios at the NCSC Think Tank event hosted at the China Pavilion. I felt extremely intrigued by the presentations and also inspired by John Kerry’s talk later in the afternoon.

As the negotiation is getting to the fiercest and most contentious point, it is seems to me that all negotiators have a common understanding that we all only have one earth and “cooperation is the only choice”. We very much look forward to the final declaration on Friday!

[1] Yanzhu is is a member of Young European Leadership’s delegation to the COP, an alumnus of the Blavatnik School of Government (MPP Class of 2015), and alumnus of EU Climate-KIC fellow and EU Erasmus Mundus Master’s programme

[2] Alex is the head of Young European Leadership’s delegation to the COP and a doctorate student at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) at the Oxford Martin School

See also our daily video blog from the COP (Part 10):