COP 22, the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, is underway. The goal of this massive meeting is to turn the ideas outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement into action.
Years in the making, the Paris Agreement set the target of holding global warming to 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this goal, nearly 200 countries submitted individual voluntary emissions reduction plans known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
Moving into the next phase of this historic agreement, the diplomats attending the Marrakesh meeting will hash out the framework needed to monitor and report on these independent undertakings. The ideal system would involve an independent panel with consistent standards that monitors countries to see if they are following through on their greenhouse gas reduction pledges. This type of reporting, it is believed, would encourage accountability as it applies the power of public scrutiny. Some countries, however, are expected to argue for a self-monitoring system. China and India, two of the world’s largest polluters, are likely to push for this less public path.
Another big topic at the Marrakesh meeting will be money. During the Paris talks last year, the wealthy nations of the world said they would create a fund and spend $100 billion a year to help poor nations adapt to climate change. Negotiators will have to work out the details of where and how this money be spent.
Although ratified in record time, the Paris Agreement is still a fragile accord. All commitments are voluntary and vulnerable to the political will of each individual government. Moreover, there are no penalties for those who do not live up to their promises.
That said, expectations going into Marrakesh are high as governments around the world have shown a willingness to act on climate change outside the parameters of the Paris Agreement. Last month, global leaders agreed to reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas commonly used as a coolant in refrigerators and air-conditioners. They also agreed to make airplanes more fuel-efficient and reduce the overall carbon footprint of air travel.
The Marrakesh conference runs through November 18.