This includes a trifecta of international agreements addressing climate change, which underscore a new era of political will and cooperation on this issue.
Last December, the nations of the world created a new international architecture to tackle climate change in the Paris Agreement. Just ten months later, UN negotiators delivered a deal to clamp down on international aviation’s skyrocketing emissions. Two weeks after that, the world committed to phase out dangerous heat trapping gasses used in refrigerators and air conditioners.
And today, just before the next round of UN climate talks begin in Morocco, the Paris Agreement will officially enter into force - which occurred faster than anyone would have predicted just 11 months ago.
While differences in countries’ perspectives and positions remain, there is a shared realization that we stand to gain much more if we address the climate crisis together than if we attempt to face it divided. The UN talks beginning next week can and should build on this momentum of international climate cooperation, turning the promise of the Paris Agreement into concrete and urgent action.
While the Paris Agreement set ambitious temperature goals and a common cause for the planet, details on how countries will deliver on those goals are yet to be developed and agreed upon. In Morocco, we must get down to business and clarify the Paris Agreement rulebook - on issues like transparency, finance, and the future development of carbon markets.
This round of climate talks in Morocco is also about empowering the governments of the world to deliver on current pledges and creating the enabling conditions to take on even more ambitious targets. While current pledges will change our climate trajectory from a catastrophic 4.5 degree Celsius temperature rise by mid-century, we’re still on track to blow past the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals of staying well below 2 degrees Celsius (about 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit), or even 1.5 degrees Celsius as the Paris Agreement calls for. And yet we know that this is what we must do to protect ourselves from the worst impacts of climate change.
The best chance we have at closing this widening gap between ambition and emissions is right now and it must be rapidly built upon over the next few years. Because, just like investments, emissions cuts we make today will yield higher dividends 30 years from now than those we put off until a later date. And the longer we wait, the steeper and more costly those later cuts would need to be. In order to do this, we need to continue to seize upon opportunities to reduce emissions and improve our climate preparedness now, before 2020. And, we need to find additional opportunity to enhance mid-term targets.
The 2018 “facilitative dialogue” — an event built into the Paris Agreement’s architecture — is the next big global opportunity for countries to take stock of our collective progress towards the Paris goals and to ramp up their NDCs. If countries use this opportunity to identify the concrete opportunities to seize upon through more ambitious climate targets, we’ll be able to make big gains in closing our widening emissions gap. That means we need to use these UN talks in Morocco to prepare the way for the 2018 dialogue, by identifying the enabling conditions and the process over the next two years that will catalyze greater ambition.
Still, we can’t forget: climate change is not just a problem for governments to solve. It’s up to all of us to do everything we can to fight our climate crisis. These talks should catalyze even greater collaboration among businesses, cities, communities, individuals and governments around the world. The Marrakech talks can serve as an inspiring marketplace of ideas, where all actors will have an opportunity to showcase tangible progress on existing commitments and launch new ones.
Business leaders will talk about how their companies are taking science-based approaches to decarbonize business operations and mobilizing their suppliers to follow their lead. We will hear from cities committing to ambitious renewable energy targets, and long-term plans to decarbonize by 2050. This type of collaboration can not only accelerate the delivery of results it can also inspire new efforts to reduce emissions and build resilience into communities and landscapes around the world.
Morocco is our chance to get the Paris Agreement off on the right foot. And yet we can’t rest on our laurels despite the gains we’ve made over the last 12 months. Over the past year, we have witnessed a global wave of political will to act on climate change. We need to build on this momentum in Marrakech and begin delivering on our collective promise to ourselves, and to the earth. By relying on science, principles of fairness and equity for all, we can achieve a sustainable future.
This round of UN talks can and must lead the way.