CAT at UN COP22 in Marrakech

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During November Paul Allen will be presenting CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain research at COP22, to help increase ambition after Paris. Here, he gives us a brief overview of the process and how CAT will contribute.

SG delivers remarks at the closing ceremony of COP21Today the Paris Agreement becomes legally binding, having reached required number of signatories on 5 October. Having followed the UN climate process for many years, I know how slow this can be, but the speed with which the various countries ratified the Paris Agreement demonstrates a new commitment from many nations to deliver solutions necessary for dealing with climate change. Under the Paris Agreement, nations have agreed to combat climate change, by acting and investing in a resilient and sustainable future that will keep a global average temperature rise below 2 degrees C, with the accepted international aim of working to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

The ratification of this Paris Agreement just days before the start of the UN COP22 Climate Change Conference in Marrakech sends a strong signal that no time will be wasted. Following on from Paris, COP22 aims to agree on the collective steps that need to be taken to combat the global challenges of climate change and foster sustainable development. There is recognition that many nations need to increase the ambition of the ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs) they have each offered, whilst also focusing on implementation.

Since the early days of the climate change convention process, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been actively involved, attending sessions and exchanging views with participants and delegates. I have previously been involved in delivering presentations for CAT at previous COP meetings in Poznan, Copenhagen and, of course, Paris last December.

marrakechThe COP22 site will consist of a ‘Blue Zone’, which will only be available to those with formal accreditation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  A second ‘Green Zone’ space will be created for civil society. In parallel to the formal COP22 negotiations, a wide range of ‘side events’ will be scheduled in both zones. These aim to deepen the thinking, strengthen the debate, present best practices, and develop partnerships and advocacy, as well as formulate proposals, share knowledge or practice, and consolidate or launch initiatives which act on climate.

There is clear recognition that this connection allows vital expertise, experience, information and perspectives from civil society to be brought into the COP process, to generate new insights and approaches. But even more than this, the access and participation of observers promotes transparency in this complex global process, and helps generate wider engagement and creation of social licence. These interactions are delivered in an atmosphere of mutual trust that acknowledges respect for others’ opinions, and takes into account the nature of intergovernmental processes.

At COP22 in Marrakech, I have, so far, been invited to present findings from CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain research in the following side-events:

In the official Blue Zone I will be presenting at ‘Improving NDCs: Ecovillage development, energy access and zero carbon societies in Africa, Asia & EU’. How can local solutions lead to ambitious NDCs, provide energy access and improve livelihoods? Many ecovillages and local communities are net zero carbon, energy self-sufficient and offer extraordinary opportunities to scale up local renewables, climate friendly agriculture and eco-system restoration.

In the wider Green Zone I will be presenting at ‘Transition to innovative and clean technology demands a new mindset’. We wish to emphasise that sustainable solutions in technology are based on an ethical and value-based approach. It becomes evident that a paradigm shift is required to move towards a truly green planet.

Paul photoBut as well as these official presentations, simply being present at COP22 allows me to visit a wide range of international pavilions, NGO stalls and events to share our work with representatives and members of the UN, official delegations, non-state actors, NGOs, private companies, trade unions, the scientific community, farmers, indigenous people, state organisations and institutions and local authorities. I will keep you posted how I get on.

Paul Allen is CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain Project Coordinator