The walls around the Agdal gardens in Marrakech with the High Atlas mountains in the distance. (Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)
At last year’s United Nations climate talks in Paris, the world agreed on some simple objectives to avert the most catastrophic effects of global warming. Next week, world leaders will meet again to agree on the dirty business of implementation.
Things have moved fast since COP21; in terms of climate action, 2016 has been a year of historic diplomacy. In June, France became the first major industrialized nation to ratify the Paris Agreement. In October, 170 countries met in Kigali, Rwanda, and signed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will eliminate 90 percent of global hydrofluorocarbons. And tomorrow, the Paris Agreement will enter into legal force well ahead of schedule. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed surprise at the swift ratification process, heralding it as a sign of “remarkable” momentum: “It can sometimes take years or even decades for a treaty to enter into force,” he said. “It is just nine months since the Paris climate conference. This is testament to the urgency of the crisis we all face.”
On the other hand, we’ll also remember 2016 as the year when Earth passed 400 parts-per-million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; the year when the Supreme Court of the United States declined to enforce President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan; the year when a man who claims that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese has a distinct chance of becoming president.
These are the currents, favorable and otherwise, swirling around this year’s U.N. climate talks in Marrakech, Morocco, which begin next week. The questions on the table could hardly be more serious: While a quorum of countries has ratified the deal, there is still vigorous disagreement over such basic concerns as apportioning emissions cuts fairly; mobilizing an annual $100 billion for the Green Climate Fund by 2020; increasing the ambition of each country’s INDC, with an eye toward capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels; and revisiting the radioactive question of loss and damage that Paris left unsettled.
Pacific Standard will be on the ground in Marrakech beginning this Saturday, and we’ll be publishing major coverage throughout the conference, from high-level policy negotiations to the ground-level stories of people already living through the most dramatic consequences of this crisis. Here’s some advice for making the most of our coverage:
- Follow our Instagram account to enjoy our partnership with the photography collective NOOR.
- Follow Kate Wheeling, a Pacific Standard staff writer who is reporting daily from the conference.
- Follow our climate correspondent Lucia Graves (this is Lucia’s second COP for Pacific Standard).
- Follow Taylor Le, our creative director, who is joining us during the first week to oversee photography.
- Follow me.
- Visit this page for running updates, plus our complete coverage from COP22.
According to Morocco’s Minister for the Environment Hakima El Haité, Lima was the COP of negotiations, Paris was one of decisions, and COP 22 “will be the Action Conference.”
And we’ll be there for every minute of it.