Food and sustainability

Cop22: from words to actions

Two weeks of spotlights on climate change in Marrakech, Morocco, where representatives from different nations worked towards the common goal of saving the planet from global warming.

From 7 to 18 November 2016, Marrakech became the world capital of the fight against climate change, hosting the 22nd UN Climate Change Conference. Nearly 200 nations participated in the event, joining forces with one another to truly enact the agreements signed at the meeting’s previous edition in Paris in 2015. The busy work programme included a few key points along the path to protecting the planet, such as the official adoption of the Paris Agreement of 4 November 2016. The agreement terms include the allocation of 100 billion dollars to finance projects which help countries adapt to climate change (for example, funds to deal with rising sea levels) and to reduce greenhouse gases by 2020. “The conditions are favourable, but the road is long and in order for the Paris Agreement to be successful we need nature-based solutions, as nature can help us save the planet”, stated the experts at the meeting in Morocco. That same North African country has given itself the ambitious goal of bringing the share of renewable energy produced to 12 percent by 2020, and all the way to 52 percent of all its electricity production by 2030.

Paris remains the departure point
Humanity will look back on 4 November 2016 as the day that countries of the world shut the door on inevitable climate change disaster and set off with determination towards a sustainable future.” Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and Salaheddine Mezouar, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, have thus defined the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the foundation of the work done at Cop22. To reach the goals set in France (which includes capping the global temperature increase at 2 °C above pre-industrial levels), there are still many problems to solve, first and foremost that of financing developing countries. “The people most affected by climate change are also the ones least responsible for those changes”, explained Isabel Kreisler, an expert at climate change at Oxfam International (Oxford Committee for Famine Relief). This fact really shows in the details and data of ‘The Climate Finance Shadow Report 2016’, presented over the course of the Moroccan conference. “Cop22 should ensure that the people who are fighting on the frontlines against climate change get the help that they truly need”, Kreisler concluded.
Eyes were also on the problem of water, given that estimates predict a 55 percent increase in water demand by 2050. Then there are the solid arguments able to convince the authorities to preserve regions and ecosystems. According to a UNESCO estimate, an investment of 53 billion dollars a year will be needed for five years in order to reach universal coverage. Though that may seem like a high number, it’s just 0.1 percent of the global GDP.
And then there are the cities, also at the heart of the BCFN’s work (which resulted in the development of the FSI, a classification of cities according to their best practices, in collaboration with The Economist’s research centre) and responsible for 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions linked to energy sources. In fact, the third day of the schedule in Marrakech is dedicated to cities and urban settlements. According to the World Bank, the amount of money needed to adapt to climate change will reach anywhere from 80 to 100 billion dollars per year, 80 percent of which must be earmarked for cities in order to stop them from going over the 2 °C limit on rising temperatures.

Dedication to the climate can be measured
There’s lots of talk about the climate and how to contain these changes, but what can the world’s countries really do? What are the criteria which define a virtuous country in terms of the fight against global warming? The answer, at least partially, is called the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), a tool compiled by the German non-profit Germanwatch and by the Climate Action Network Europe. The index is calculated based on three different parameters: emission levels, development of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and climate-related policies. “The results of 2017 show that the transition to a low carbon economy has already begun and is gaining speed, but there are too many countries which still are performing negatively”, confirmed Jan Burck, one of the CCPI’s authors. Burck also noted that at the top of the roster of most efficient nations (even if they aren’t entirely virtuous, as no one truly shines with a complete approach), are France, Sweden and the UK, while Saudi Arabia brings up the rear of the 58 countries studied and responsible for approximately 90 percent of global emissions. Italy is in the middle of the classification: it can do better, but it certainly isn’t among the environmental black sheep.


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