COP22: Steady She Goes

Andres Fuentes | November 8, 2016.

The second day of COP22, the UN climate talks, continued with little fanfare. Unlike previous conferences that were often rife with tension or fireworks, delegates spent the day familiarising themselves with the venue that has almost come together, and this time under a clear sky. The path towards tangible outcomes from Marrakech is not yet clear, despite the steady rhythm of work occurring.

Today was also “Earth Information Day” where leading climate scientists painted a dire picture of developments in climate science. Not only was 2015 the hottest year on record, but this year is set to outdo that record and edge close to the Paris agreement’s 1.5°C aspirational ceiling target for global warming. This had varied impacts on communities around the world—none positive—causing a sometimes 10-fold increase in the probability of extreme weather events and leaving the world’s oceans “hot, sour, and breathless,” and increasingly unsuitable for marine life. But not all news was dire, with updates on how technology was helping communities better adapt to climate change.

On the Paris Agreement front, governments continued to hold informal discussions which developing countries used to push for a focus on adaptation. Developed countries did not disagree as they wanted to look at the greater financial discussion prior to any decisions. On the mitigation side, discussion centred around who was actually responsible for what with developing countries wanting clear distinctions despite references to the Paris Agreement mentioning “all parties”.

As the conference continues to lull, the issue of finance has been able to stir some emotion with civil society and many countries considering it a key issue. Initial concerns that finance for adaptation would not be discussed has potentially been resolved now that it may be part of the ministerial discussions.

Perhaps the clearest sign of how quiet, and not even just when contrasted to the hustle and bustle of Paris last year, has been CAN International being unable to find a climate villain in the negotiation to call out with an infamous Fossil of the Day award.

After a fairly miserable (weather wise, if nothing else) start and the slow and steady pace right off the starting block, it is clear that many are still feeling out what a world with a Paris Agreement looks like.

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