November 18, 2016

World Leaders, Sub-National Governments, Businesses Continue Momentum on Global Climate Action in Marrakech

Statements by Alden Meyer and Rachel Cleetus, UCS

MARRAKECH (November 18, 2016)— The UN climate talks, taking place in Marrakech, Morocco this year are expected to conclude tonight with the adoption of a set of final decisions and the Marrakech Action Proclamation (MAP) issued yesterday by nearly 200 nations. The decisions reached here aim to establish a process for implementing global climate goals, including limiting warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius by quickly transitioning to low-carbon energy sources, as well as ramping up assistance to vulnerable countries to cope with mounting climate change impacts.

Below is a statement by Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and one of the foremost experts on the UN climate change negotiations. 

“We came to Marrakech on a high note with the Paris Agreement entering into force in record time. The U.S. has been a leader on tackling climate change under the Obama administration, helping to build the global consensus around shared action that resulted in last year’s historic Paris Agreement. But the outcome of last week’s elections has raised serious doubts about the continued commitment of the U.S. to the international climate framework after President Obama leaves office.

“The good news is that country after country here in Marrakech made it crystal clear over the last week that they intend to implement and strengthen the Paris Agreement, regardless of whether the incoming Trump administration stays in Paris or decides to leave. Not one country has said that if President Trump pulls the U.S. out of Paris, they will follow. Numerous U.S. states, cities, and hundreds of companies have made clear their determination to stay the course on climate action. And yesterday, under the leadership of the King of Morocco, heads of state and ministers adopted the Marrakech Action Proclamation, calling for much greater ambition to meet the temperature limitation goals agreed in Paris.  

“One of the aims of the Marrakech climate summit was to agree on a process and timeline for writing the rule book for implementing the Paris Agreement. Countries have agreed to complete this process by 2018, and here in Marrakech, they deepened their understanding of the convergences and divergences on many of the complex issues involved. But much hard work remains over the next two years to get the Paris rule book over the finish line.

“They also asked the Moroccan COP President to continue his consultations on how to shape the facilitative dialogue in late 2018, where countries will evaluate the adequacy of their global warming emission reduction commitments against the Paris temperature limitation goals, with input from a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That dialogue must drive much greater ambition, including revision of the commitments now on the table. 

“There are a number of significant meetings next year that can serve as a catalyst for greater ambition on climate change, including the May G-7 meeting in Italy, the July G-20 meeting in Germany, and the World Bank/IMF finance ministers’ meetings in April and October, both in Washington. These will be key moments for leaders, especially from developed nations, to prove that the promises they made here in Marrakech about implementing and strengthening the Paris Agreement aren’t just hot air." 

Below is a statement by Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager at UCS. 

“The clean energy revolution is well underway globally with the costs of solar and wind power dropping rapidly and deployment of renewables occurring at a record pace. In the U.S., current market trends show coal is steadily losing ground to cleaner, cheaper energy alternatives, including renewables, energy efficiency and natural gas. Together with state policies and federal tax credits for renewable energy, these market forces will continue to drive clean energy momentum and lower emissions in the near term, but more will be needed to cut emissions in line with our Paris goals.

“Finance for developing countries to make a low-carbon transition and prepare for the impacts of climate change continues to be a major challenge. Here in Marrakech, we saw a few countries step up by providing over $100 million to help meet near-term adaptation and technology needs, but this is by no means sufficient in scale relative to the tens of billions of dollars that countries still require. Today, we even saw a group of nations, including many of the least developed countries that are affected most by climate impacts, make an inspiring pledge to reach a 100 percent renewable energy future. It’s now up to developed countries to provide the financial and technology assistance needed to make this possible.

“Moving beyond the here and now, in Paris nations were also invited to put forth, by 2020, long-term strategies outlining how they intend to drastically reduce their global warming emissions by mid-century. In the last week, the U.S., Mexico, Canada and Germany have released their plans, with many other countries, cities, states and businesses pledging to do so as part of the 2050 Pathways Platform launched yesterday in Marrakech. 

“We need to plan ahead to ensure our energy investments today are aligned with our long-term, low-carbon goals. When picturing our energy future, it should include a modernized electricity grid that can integrate high levels of renewables, a network of charging stations for electric vehicles, and more energy-efficient buildings, for starters. In other words, we don’t want to get locked into high-carbon infrastructure that will quickly become obsolete. Instead we need to build a clean energy infrastructure worthy of the 21st century that will also create jobs and provide new business opportunities.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.