Frustrations and Proclamations on Climate Justice Day

Katja Garson | November 17, 2016.

The forthcoming departure of Ban Ki-moon from his position as UN secretary general drew attention and nurtured positive feelings at COP22, now in its final hours. Ban was farewelled by civil society where he was handed a personalised ‘Supermoon’ placard reading as a gift. Ban responded by thanking and calling civil society “the kings and queens without crowns.”

There was little else to celebrate on Climate Justice Day, a dire reminder of the climate impacts the planet is already facing.

Discussions around finance are troubling, particularly on long-term goals, and have proven to be the key sticking points. The US$100 billion roadmap saw some announcements with developed countries pledging €100 million for capacity building and technology. Serious questions remain over how much funding which will actually be required for these projects.

Developed countries have claimed they are nearing their 2020 goal, a claim rejected by many civil society groups in Marrakech. These goals are especially relevant given the conference is being held on the African continent, home to many of the countries most dependent on international support. Zambia and Fiji today voiced strong requests for more adaptation finance.

Other civil society actions reflected a deep and ongoing dissatisfaction with progress. The Africa team coordinated an event named ‘Africa United Against Fossil Fuels.’ Another action led by Corporate Accountability International called for corporations such as Shell and BP to be excluded from policy-making due to their conflict of interest. A ‘Standing Rock Solidarity Action’ was led by indigenous peoples. And in the first non-sanctioned protest of this conference, 20 international activists occupied the Office Chérifien des Phosphates‘ (a sponsor) pavilion to protest the company’s polluting phosphate plant in Safi, Morocco.

Fossil of the Day awards were given out to Turkey, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, France, Japan and Indonesia. All of these countries are increasing their fossil fuel extraction. Additionally, Russia was cited for its announcement to explore fossil fuels a ‘clean’ energy source, which is currently a scientific and economic impossibility. Adding insult to injury, Russia attracted allegations of greenwashing by holding a side event and press conference today showcasing nuclear energy with the company Rosatom.

In a move to counter the gloom, a 2050 pathways platform was launched in order to work towards achieving individual targets following the Paris Agreement. Involving 22 countries, 15 cities and 176 businesses in the We Mean Business coalition, the platform will be shaped to help deliver the sustainable development goals and support countries in decarbonising their economies. Additionally, the UK has joined the ranks of many having now ratified the Paris Agreement.

The biggest news came later, when in the small hours of Friday, new draft conclusions for COP22 were sent out: the Paris Agreement is welcomed into force, and states that the adaptation fund must serve the Agreement. The Marrakech Action Proclamation, a separate document, calls for ‘a new era of implementation and action on climate and sustainable development, and notably requires parties to ratify the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol. It highlights the interconnected nature of issues such as poverty, agriculture and food security, and states that ‘we reiterate our resolve to inspire solidarity, hope and opportunity for current and future generations.’

Heading into a final day of COP there are still loose ends and unanswered questions to resolve, especially around finance. It remains to be see how many of the decisions made here will morph into concrete action.

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