All roads lead to Marrakech

Two feet on the ground in Marrakech

Today, the world begins to converge in Marrakech, Morocco, to implement the historic Paris Agreement at the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22). Today, we landed in Marrakech and were greeted with a city-wide displays of COP22 decorations. From when I left Washington, D.C., to when I arrived in Marrakech, Morocco, there were COP22 signs at the airport, special tags on our luggage, and staff to greet delegates as we arrived. Meeting a varitey of delegates and participant from all walks of life from DC to our final destination, it quickly begins to feel like the world is arriving for the biggest event on climate change since just a few months ago, in Paris, France, for COP21.

Having been a student observer to COP21, I’ve noticed the difference feeling heading into Marrakech than in Paris. The Paris Agreement entered into force a mere three days ago on November 4th — months, even years earlier than anticipated. The momentum prior to Paris was unstoppable, and the atmosphere of hope permeated the Paris climate talks. Now, the world seems to be hurriedly trying to cement the hope and vision of the Paris Agreement before it may too late. This UN conference parallels the most controversial U.S. presidential elections to date, and looms over the beginning of the Marrakesh COP.

U.S. presidential election aside, there is uncertainty in the air. Uncertainty over how to implement the Paris Agreement, how to address many of the issues set forth, such as capacity building, technology transfer, and finance. These are anchors of implementation. The decisions made over the next two weeks will shape the ways which the Paris Agreement will be implemented across all levels and sectors.

Much of the conversations heading into COP22 have been of implementation, specifically how to implement countries NDCs, which were formulated taking into account country-specific challenges and opportunities. These conversations will dominate much of the side events and negotiations in Marrakech and will dictate a path that will allow us to limit the worst effects of climate change.

The Marrakech COP also opens with the first meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement, CMA1. Now over 100 countries representing 69% of global emissions have signed on. Though the way forward is uncertain and changing political climates remain, the more international will and multi-sector buy-in is still needed to propel the goals and actions of the Paris Agreement forward, to continue to set the world towards a path of sustainable development and rapid decarbonization. So, for the next two weeks and beyond, let’s #ActOnClimate.

To follow along with CGS and the UMD delegation, follow us on Twitter @CtrGlobSust, and follow her remarks @ch_bowman.

Christina Bowman works for the Center for Global Sustainability (CGS) at the University of Maryland (UMD) and is part of the COP22 delegation. She has previously worked on Climate Action 2016, the first international multi-stakeholder convening after COP21 on climate implementation, and was a student/youth observer to COP21 in Paris, France.