COP22: UN climate gathering falls under Trump shadow

By A. Adam Glenn

In the news: President-elect Donald Trump’s surprise election victory has unsettled a major global warming treaty, just as diplomats gather at a major United Nation’s climate meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco. During his campaign, Trump threatened to “cancel” U.S. participation in last year’s Paris climate agreement, which went into effect Nov. 4. More than 100 nations are taking part, among them the United States.

Back story: Beginning Nov. 15, heads of state and high-level ministers will convene in Marrakesh for the Conference of Parties to the overarching United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP22. The Marrakesh meeting, which began formally Nov. 7, was seen as an opportunity to flesh out the details of the Paris Agreement, which committed nations to significant reductions in carbon emissions. The Paris deal also provided financing for poorer nations to adopt clean energy technology and adaptation measures. Now the stakes have been raised considerably.

Adaptation angle: Trump’s 100-day action plan once he takes office includes a pledge to “cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.” The financing was a pillar of the Paris Agreement, viewed by frustrated leaders of developing nations as a measure of commitment by developed countries to address decades of carbon pollution responsible for impacts like sea-level rise, drought and severe weather. Rich nations had promised to expand $10 billion earmarked for the fund in 2014 to $100 billion a year from public and private sources by 2020. The United States had pledged $3 billion in the first round, although it has only made $500 million available so far. The rest of the U.S. funding is now in question, causing widespread unease among nations party to the agreement.

Questions to ask

  • What might diplomats in Marrakesh do to push back against anti-treaty sentiment from the incoming president? Will a controversial effort dubbed the "Marrakesh Call" succeed in committing signatories to more aggressive climate action? Will there be an announcement from the so-called “high ambition coalition” that had pushed for a tougher plan in Paris? And what high-level political statements may come from heads of state and ministers, such as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who plans to make a major speech Monday after arriving at the summit?
  • How would a Trump administration act on its pledge to back out of the Paris Agreement? Will it take a fast route by issuing a presidential order deleting the U.S. signature, pulling out of the overarching framework convention established in 1992, or simply neglecting to carry out U.S. emission reduction commitments and funding pledges? Or will it formally withdraw from the Paris treaty, which is a several-year process?
  • What might world leaders say to Trump about climate change as he prepares to take office? What about outgoing U.N. chief Ban-ki Moon, who has expressed confidence Trump will distance himself from his campaign rhetoric?
  • Will business leaders who support climate action reach out to the new administration? What about groups representing U.S. and world cities, as well as U.S. states that are already committed to climate action?
  • If the United States does balk at its $3 billion commitment to the Green Climate Fund, would other rich nations raise their contributions to make up the difference?

Reporting resources

Dig deeper on COP22, the Paris Agreement and U.N. adaptation financing using additional resources in the Reporter’s Guide to Climate Adaptation database.

Know of other Marrakesh-related resources we should include in our database?

Posted by A. Adam Glenn on Nov. 16, 2016


Road from Paris: Global climate deal expected to take effect soon

In the news: The historic Paris Agreement is poised for enactment now that key milestones are nearly met for the number of countries taking part -- including newly joined India -- and for the amount of carbon emissions those countries represent.

Back story: When the United Nations agreed to the new climate change treaty in December 2015, the pact included a unique threshold: (1) at least 55 countries party to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change join the agreement and (2) they collectively represent 55 percent of global emissions. Nearing those numbers in recent months, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged ratification during a high-profile event at the U.N. on Sept. 21.

Adaptation angle: A key component of the Paris climate change agreement is its focus on adapting to global warming’s effects, while enhancing adaptation support to help developing countries. That means offering financing through a new Green Climate Fund, as well as providing enhanced capacity building and new technology.

Questions to ask

  • What nations does the U.N. see as most vulnerable to climate risk, and urgently needing adaptation activities? How will the Paris Agreement help them?
  • How well is the Paris Agreement doing in mobilizing technological support for developing countries?
  • How will the Green Climate Fund raise its target of $100 billion-per-year from developed countries, with half for adaptation activities, when it’s so far below that now?
  • What role will private investment play in adaptation activities related to the Green Climate Fund?
  • Are there good examples of adaptation plans being developed on a local, national or regional level?
  • How successfully are adaptation plans going from the blueprint stage to actual implementation?
  • How will the agreement address losses already incurred by vulnerable nations from climate impacts?
  • How will adaptation goals in the Paris Agreement mesh with those of the U.N.’s new Sustainable Development Goals for 2030?

Reporting resources

Dig deeper on the Paris Agreement and adaptation story using additional resources in the Reporter’s Guide to Climate Adaptation database.

Know of other U.N.-related resources we should include in our database?

Posted by A. Adam Glenn on Oct. 3, 2016


Green Climate Fund

The Green Climate Fund

Overview: The Green Climate Fund is a global coalition of governments working together under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to  invest in climate-resilient development and help developing countries adapt to a changing climate.

How to Use This Resource: Journalists will find information on how the fund helps governments channel adaptation investments to developing countries, including a pledge tracker, descriptions of projects being funded, documentation and an online news room. More background about the Green Climate Fund can be found at the UNFCC web site.