The 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) is going to be held in Marrakech from November 7, 2016, where representatives from 197 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) parties will be gathered to review the convention’s progress and establish the rules of its implementation.
In the last meeting of COP21 at Paris, the 197 parties of UNFCCC agreed to reduce the emissions of dangerous greenhouse gases for keeping a global temperature rise by the end of this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5C.
As of November 2, 2016, out of 197 parties to the convention, 192 parties have signed this historic Paris Agreement and 92 parties have ratified, accepted, and approved it.
The Paris Agreement entered into force yesterday, as the required 55 (at least) parties to the convention accounting, in total, for at least an estimated 55% of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, have deposited their ratification.
Feasibility of limiting emission below the target of 2C
While many of us thought that global climate change issues have been resolved successfully after reaching and signing the Paris agreement, unfortunately, it is not the case. In a recent article, researchers showed that the Paris Agreement alone will not be able to limit the global temperature rise below 2C.
Even applying both the unconditional and conditional Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) of the parties promised to reduce greenhouse gas emission, the global temperature will rise within the range between 2.6C and 3.1C by the end of the century.
Another recent study showed that average global temperatures were already more than 1C above pre-industrial levels, and keeping within the 1.5C limit will be extremely difficult considering the given situation of the rises. Additional greenhouse gas reduction will be required on a least low carbon emission pathway from 2020 onwards for limiting the global warming well below 2C by 2100.
Turning the Paris Agreement into action
As soon as the Paris agreement enters into the force of action, the first step for all the parties is to take necessary action as quickly as possible to fulfill the promises of the climate change agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emission by following a low-carbon growth.
The second step is planning for additional reductions to limit the warming below 1.5C because it will offer the planet a better chance of staving off many catastrophes. This additional 0.5C above 1.5C would mean a 10-cm-higher global sea-level rise by 2100, longer heat waves, the availability of fresh water in the arid region would be about 10% lower, and would result in virtually all tropical coral reefs being at risk.
The Paris Agreement is a success in the sense that the world has recognised the need of following the low-carbon development path. However, it’s time now to think about another legally-binding initiative to save humanity from the consequences of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions
The third important step is to fulfill the promises of climate financing to reduce the greenhouse gas emission, enhance ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development.
Challenges for the most vulnerable countries
Undoubtedly, the threat of climate change will be faced by the developing, climate-vulnerable countries, much more than the developed countries. Improving resilience of these developing countries through climate financing on adaptation, technology transfer, and capacity-building for their sustainable development and poverty eradication, were among the pledges of the Paris Agreement that were signed by the UNFCC Parties. Many gray areas still exist in the Paris Agreement which should be seriously reviewed, and need further amendments, such as:
1) Action is essential to assess the “Loss and Damage” attributed from the climate change.
2) Scale up financial resources based on the “Loss and Damage” assessment to build the capacity of the developing, climate-vulnerable countries.
3) Specific commitments for the developed countries to transfer green climate technology for mitigation and adaptation of the developing, vulnerable countries.
The way climate-financing and its lengthy disbursement processes are taking place, the developing countries will suffer more in the future. The Paris Agreement is a success in the sense that the world has recognised the need of following the low-carbon development path.
However, it’s time now to think about another legally-binding initiative, like the Koyoto Protocol, to save humanity from the consequences of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
AKM Saiful Islam is a Professor of the Institute of Water and Flood Management at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, Bangladesh.