The 22nd Conference of the Parties starts this week and we’re excited to be taking part. During the COP, 197 participating countries strive to reach agreements on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused by human activity, assess the evolution of their commitments, and review the implementation of the UNFCCC and other legal instruments that the COP adopts. COP22 will take over the reins from COP21 and focus on action items in order to achieve the priorities of The Paris Agreement, especially related to adaptation, transparency, technology transfer, mitigation, capacity building and loss and damages.
Dr. Tod Delaney – president of First Environment – will be attending COP22 on behalf of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy as well as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). In his role as the chair of ISO’s global Climate Change Coordinating Committee (CCCC), he will participate in discussions of the role of international standards in realizing the goals put forth in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The much heralded agreement – established at COP21 last year – resulted in an agreed-upon framework for all participating countries to move forward on slowing global climate change. As with most general agreements, it‘s impossible to assess until details on how it will be implemented emerge. With COP22 convening in Morocco this week, expectations are high – and for good reason. A recent UN study found that the actions to be undertaken in support of the Paris Agreement will not result in enough greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions to meet the goal set in Paris – to keep global climate change below 2º C. Regardless, the world is looking to COP22 to produce a detailed action plan that will lock in the modest agreed upon reductions.
In addition to taking action to mitigate the impacts of climate change, COP22 will start to address actions to help developing countries adapt to coming climate impacts, including more frequent extreme weather events which devastate local infrastructure and economies; rising sea levels which force local residents to relocate; and the challenges of generating energy through alternative, cleaner fuels as opposed to carbon intense options such as coal power plants. Climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts constitute a long-standing debate: do developed countries have a responsibility to fund the lion’s share of the costs to address global climate change, since they are responsible for most of the GHG emissions fueling the crisis?
The Paris Agreement offered a diplomatic compromise. Developed countries would help developing countries mitigate their GHG emissions (through funding and project management) in exchange for a commitment by those countries receiving assistance to make earnest efforts in pursuing reasonable reduction targets. Developed countries also agree to help developing countries fund adaptation efforts as long as such payments are not considered a basis of liability or compensation. These mechanisms are being managed by organizations like Adaptation Fund and the Green Climate Fund, which already have procedures in place for developing countries to request assistance for mitigation and adaptation projects.
So now the hard work begins.
Moving forward, successful implementation of the Paris Agreement will rely on accurate and transparent reporting and accounting. ISO has had several technical committees working out such details for years. Rather than reinvent the wheel, the UNFCCC has started to reference these ISO standards as part of its efforts. For example, Article 6 of the Paris Agreement lays the foundation for expanding International carbon markets. The UN already references various ISO standards for Measurement, Verification and Reporting (MVR) related to its Kyoto Protocol carbon offset programs. ISO’s Climate Change Coordination Committee – headed by our firm’s president, Dr. Tod Delaney – is charged with integrating the numerous existing and emerging standards that address climate change to be in line with the Paris Agreement.
The technical details that will hopefully be discussed at COP22 and its aftermath are the foundation for any sustainable international agreement and allow for a “trust but verify” approach. By providing consensus-based requirements while offering flexibility to implement cost-effective oversight programs, we will help move all countries (developed and developing) toward shared reporting and GHG accounting that is measurable and verifiable, and which ultimately supports the 2º C goal promised in Paris.
COP22 side events of interest:
Mobilizing Climate Finance for Implementing NDCs and Low-Carbon Technology Innovation
07 Nov 2016 13:15—14:45
Demystifying Private Adaptation Finance & Action – breaking it down to planning and decision-making
07 Nov 2016 15:00—16:30
Adaptation Fund – What next? On past experiences and future prospects for the Adaptation Fund
09 Nov 2016 11:30—13:00
Unlocking Ambition: How non-party stakeholders are contributing to the low carbon transition
12 Nov 2016 11:30—13:00
Observer Room 8/Arabian Room
Reimagining Environmental Commodities: Technology’s Impact on Standards, Verification and Reporting
10 November 10:15-11:45
For more news on COP22 and to watch a live stream of events, click here: