UN Climate Speech / 15 Apr, 2015
Africa's Pathway from Marrakech to Paris

In an address to the Ministerial Dialogue at the Africa Carbon Forum in Marrakech 15 April, UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary Richard Kinley outlined the key steps to a successful universal climate change agreement in Paris in December, and how Africa can benefit from the agreement. Here are the key points Richard Kinley made:

The Marrakech Accords were negotiated in 2001, enabling a prompt start for the Kyoto Protocol’s clean development mechanism.

Without the 2001 Marrakech Accords, we wouldn’t have had more than a decade of solid delivery of finance and technology through the CDM.

Ten years after the Marrakech Accords, South Africa’s leadership at the Durban Climate Change Conference ensured renewed momentum in climate action – action that will be captured and supported through the Paris agreement at the end of this year.

For the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris to successfully address climate change, four key outcomes need to be achieved:

  • A durable universal Paris agreement
  • Clear progress on ramping up action prior to 2020
  • Scaled-up finance in support of action by developing countries
  • Bringing forward the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) – and here I want to loudly congratulate Gabon for being the very first African country to submit an INDC

The INDCs alone will not put the world on course to a less than 2°C future. But the Paris agreement must.

It must do so through the INDCs, through its science-based review process and through embracing a long-term goal.

The long-term goal is particularly important. The Paris agreement needs to set the world on course to:

  • Peak global emissions as soon as possible
  • Drive them rapidly down via a deep de-carbonization of the global economy
  • Reach a climate neutral world in the second half of the century 

These points are of course of central relevance to Africa:

First, the African continent is among the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Africa needs long-term, stable and scaled-up support to increase resilience to climate. There needs to be parity between adaptation and mitigation.

Second, many African countries are now experiencing economic rebuilding and growth and Africa is increasingly taking its place as an important player in geo-political affairs.

These developments very much go hand-in-hand with the Paris agreement and the agreement can reinforce these developments in significant ways.

INDCs Essential for Durable African Economies

Healthy 21st century economies must be based on sustainable development. Durable economic growth is sustainable and environmentally responsible, characterized by low emissions and high resilience to climate change.

This will require finance and modern technologies, especially in the area of energy services, given that some 625 million Africans (source: IEA Africa Energy Outlook 2014) have no access to electricity.

The Paris agreement can motivate stronger mitigation and adaptation efforts, and can set the framework for providing Africa with appropriate support where this is needed.

This can be accomplished in the agreement’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions.

At the Lima Climate Change Conference held in December last year, countries agreed that INDCs are rooted in domestic priorities and realities. They are a blueprint for how Governments plan to accelerate investment in their own low carbon, resilient development beyond countries’ current levels of effort.

INDCs are each country’s opportunity to express their development priorities, in many cases drawing upon long-term efforts to streamline climate change into sustainable development and green growth strategies.

Governments have been invited to communicate their INDCs to the Secretariat well in advance of Paris.

Seven INDCs on behalf of 35 parties have been submitted and many others are in advanced stages of preparation.

This includes the bulk of industrialized countries, but all are needed.

And more are needed from emerging and developing economies until universal participation is achieved.

The Secretariat will issue a synthesis report by 1 November on the aggregate effect of the INDCs received by 1 October – a key date for your calendars.

Climate Finance Crucial for Africa’s Development and Adaptation to Climate Change

There is to date a broad determination among countries to strengthen adaptation action through the Paris Agreement.

This will be done through the implementation of national adaptation plans, scaled-up adaptation finance and an unprecedented level of global cooperation addressing adaptation as a global concern.

If Africa is to truly put itself on a path to low emissions and high resilience, clarity will be needed on international support. One lesson from the CDM is that, while it has been extremely successful in delivering finance and technologies to developing countries, Africa has often not benefited greatly from it. Clearly, we cannot afford for this to happen again.

Finance will be key. Developed country Governments have pledged to mobilise at least $100 billion a year by 2020 to support climate action in developing countries.

The Green Climate Fund, a central channel for climate finance to developing nations, has achieved its initial capitalisation goal of more than 10 USD billion from governments and is slated to start investing this year. It now needs to approve the first projects before Paris.

With this milestone, attention can then shift to the pathway of reaching the goal of mobilising 100 billion annually no later than 2020. For this, all sources need to be taken into account.

Market Mechanisms a Central Means of Providing Finance, Technology and Capacity to Africa

A form of support to Africa that has received a lot of attention here at the African Carbon Forum has been the market mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol. Markets can remain under the Paris agreement as a key means of providing finance, technology and capacity, in particular as a way to engage the private sector in identifying and supporting opportunities for climate action.

One of the issues that Paris will need to deal with is what should be done with the CDM after 2020. You have now spent years building CDM infrastructure, only to find yourselves dealing with a vastly unsteady market. Now is the moment to determine whether Paris should take steps to shore up the market.

Paris is also the moment to explore new ways of using existing CDM infrastructure. The mechanism has a sound and solid systems for measuring, reporting and verifying emission reductions.

This MRV can now be harnessed for other purposes, for example to strengthen the emerging GCF structure and provide a ready-made portfolio of investments in search of funds. This supports both the GCF and mitigation generally.

As your countries prepare your INDCs, you may want to consider how available support can extend the activities in the INDC and whether additional activities can be made conditional on support received.

In Paris, Parties may also consider the means of support needed in the future and ensure the agreement leaves open a path to innovative support from changing markets dynamics or new technology, opening a door to innovation.

Need to Build Political Consensus Ahead of Paris 2015 Agreement

I am very confident that common ground can be found well ahead of Paris

I say “well ahead of Paris” because last-minute decisions, or late night miracles, cannot be the default this year. Business as usual negotiations will not do.

As a result, in these last eight months before Paris, focus must shift from restating negotiating positions to finding common ground solutions.

Decision points must be advanced early so negotiations can be finalized early; and COP21 must come to an orderly consensus conclusion.

Those who have the most to gain from the Paris Agreement must be in the forefront, and if Heads of State come to Paris it must be to adopt an agreement that is robust and ready for them.

In conclusion, the coming months provide African countries with a significant opportunity to align their contributions to the Paris climate agreement with their own long-term sustainable development priorities in the broader context of economic growth in Africa.

I urge you to seize the opportunity that the Paris agreement offers Africa to advance the continent’s development in a fully sustainable manner.