COP 22 wrap-up

Organisation: Global CCS Institute

This year’s annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was hosted by the Moroccan government in Marrakech, Morocco. The 22nd Session of the COP (COP 22) convened on 7 November and finished in the very early hours of 19 November. While it certainly did not feel like a big COP conference in terms of number of participants, there were over 22,500 attendees (70 per cent negotiators, 25 per cent observers, and 5 per cent media). In this Insight, Mark Bonner, Institute’s Program Lead – International Climate Change Engagement, summarises COP 22.

This was the seventh year the Global CCS Institute (the Institute) engaged in these annual talks, and its sixth year as an accredited observer. The Institute presented a high calibre advocacy campaign in support of heightening awareness amongst key policy decision-makers of the importance of carbon capture and storage (CCS) mitigation outcomes. The Institute considers this an especially important objective within the auspice of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as this is where international climate commitments drive national policy settings through the bottom-up Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) process of the Paris Agreement – and in turn serves to enhance the business case for CCS.

Focus was on the Paris Agreement

COP 22 in Marrakech follows on from the highly successful COP 21 in Paris, which secured a new climate treaty called the Paris Agreement (Agreement) for the post-2020 period. The entry into force of the Agreement, which legally commenced (in terms of its operationalisation at least) on 4 November as a sufficient number of countries (Parties) had ratified the Agreement (at least 55 Parties covering at least 55 per cent global GHG emissions), was celebrated at COP 22 for having achieved in 10 months what the Kyoto Protocol managed to achieve in eight years. There are currently 114 Parties of 197 Parties to the Convention that have ratified the Agreement – and 11 Parties ratified during COP 22.

Despite the many labels levelled at COP 22 prior to its commencement, such as the ‘implementation’ COP, the ‘African’ COP, and the COP of ‘Action’ – the accelerated entry into force of the Agreement necessarily meant that the core focus of COP 22 would be largely procedural. Its main aim was to progress what is being increasingly being referred to as the Paris Agreement ‘rulebook’ by 2018 (ie, at COP 24). The rules to be established for mitigation by way of example include: features of nationally determined contributions (NDCs), information to facilitate NDC clarity, transparency and understanding, and accounting procedures (ie, to avoid double counting).

The agenda of the subsidiary body supporting the implementation of the Agreement, that is the Ad hoc working group on the Paris Agreement (APA), commenced in earnest at May’s mid-year intersessional meeting. The ultimate decision-making body of the Agreement, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting to the Paris Agreement (CMA), necessarily convened its first session in Marrakech. For pragmatic reasons however, the CMA was expected to (and indeed did) suspend its proceedings to allow time for the necessary decisions it was required to make at its first meeting to be negotiated and for those countries who have not yet ratified the Agreement more time to do so. This essentially means that the CMA will continuously resume its 1st session until 2018 (COP 24). 

A joint review on the progress made on the ‘rulebook’ will be undertaken by the COP and CMA in 2017.

Notable achievements

COP 22 achieved a limited number of notable milestones, including the release of a global financial roadmap for the annual US$100 billion in 2020 (supported by most developed countries), the establishment of the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (ie. it will explore NDC capacity-building activities in 2017), a review process for the Warsaw International Mechanism (or loss and damage associated with climate change impacts) starting in 2019 and every five years thereafter, and a 2050 Pathways Platform where Parties (some 22 to date) and businesses alike can outline their strategies to transition to a net zero-emission future.

COP 22 also saw the release of a high level political statement called the ‘Marrakesh Action Proclamation’ reaffirming government commitment to climate action as well as encouraging business and civil society to do the same. From this perspective, COP 22 largely delivered what was expected of it.

While perhaps assuming a lower profile to those above, a broad range of technical issues were also discussed and progressed – although many still remain open to negotiations and unresolved. Such issues include: the forward process for the Global Stocktake scheduled in 2023, release of the 2016 joint report between the Technology Executive Committee (TEC) and the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), the establishment of a new technology framework under the Paris Agreement, the forging of closer linkages between the Finance and Technology Mechanisms, the use of cooperative approaches such as carbon markets, the establishment of a new mitigation mechanism (colloquially called the ‘Sustainable Development Mechanism’ which some Parties have earmarked as replacing the ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ (CDM) when its second commitment period ends in 2020), transparency arrangements of both national commitments and actions, and an increasingly formal role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – in both the informal dialogue scheduled for 2018 (with its Special Report on 1.5° warming) and the Global Stocktake (with its Sixth Assessment Report).

CCS at COP 22

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) was explicitly considered within the context of the CDM. At the start of the 45th session of the  Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the SBSTA chair decided to liaise with interested Parties and draft conclusions on the two outstanding issues (ie. which arose from COP 17 (Durban) in 2011 and included: (i) CCS projects that involve the transboundary movement of CO2, and (ii) the establishment of a general reserve of certified emission reduction (CER) units); and to ultimately forward recommendations for consideration by the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP).

It was ultimately agreed to conclude SBSTA’s consideration of these two issues without the need for any additional action. The Institute considers this a good (and possibly the best) outcome as it avoided Parties ‘horse-trading’ CCS issues for non-CCS issues – that could so easily be to the detriment of CCS arrangements. For example, the proposal to establish an additional reserve of CERs could have singularly undermined the feasibility of any future CCS project in the CDM.

Technology is well placed in the COP discussion

While the negotiations on finance (ie, especially in regards to the need to set quantifiable goals) and carbon markets continue to be protracted in these negotiations, Party discussions on technology transfer, development and deployment were perhaps the least controversial of all of the elements that make up the Paris Agreement (ie. other elements include mitigation, finance, transparency, capacity building, and adaptation). One sticking point for the technology agenda was the Subsidiary Body for Implementation’s (SBI) review of the Technology Mechanism – progress on this issue came to an almost stalemate, with Parties compromising and agreeing to continue with a submission process on the scope and modalities by 25 January 2017, for further consideration at the mid-year intersessional in May 2017.

It is also worth noting that an independent review of the CTCN is likely to take place in 2017. Although the CTCN was established at COP 16 (2010) where it was agreed a review would be held of it every four years, this seems to have disappeared from the radar in 2016.

Negotiations on carbon markets also seemed to close relatively early at COP 22, with Parties invited to submit their views until March 27 (especially on the new mitigation mechanism), followed up with a SBSTA led roundtable discussion in the May 2017 intersessional.

The Institute’s efforts in the lead-up to and at COP 22

There were a tremendous number and range of events that took place at COP 22 that were largely exogenous to the actual negotiations. This year for example saw the two UNFCCC Climate Champion’s launch the ‘Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action’ (GCA), after hosting several GCA day-long thematic sessions (including energy). These aimed to showcase initiatives – both national and non-state – that were already underway to reduce emissions. Unfortunately, but perhaps not unexpectedly, the GCA energy day failed to showcase CCS and maintained the Sustainable Energy For All’s (SE4ALL) somewhat singular focus on renewable energies and energy efficiency. This demonstrates why the Institute’s continued effort to heighten the profile of CCS within this international community is so important.

The Institute invested a significant amount of effort preparing for COP 22 by actively participating in many UNFCCC meetings ahead of the conference, including: subsidiary body intersessional (SBSTA 45 / SBI 45 / APA 1-2 in May, Bonn), 12th and 13th sessions of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the 12th and 13th sessions of the TEC, and 7th and 8th sessions of the CTCN (and which the Institute is a network member).

In addition to following closely the COP 22 negotiations on technology, carbon markets (including the CDM), finance and transparency; the Institute hosted and engaged in a number of activities at COP 22:

  • Institute CEO, Brad Page, hosted for the 7th year running a high-level dinner dialogue to explore how to accelerate CCS; this year included heads of several UN and non-UN organisations and senior delegates;
  • Launch of the 2016 Global Status Report on CCS:
    • Commenced with a formal UNFCCC endorsed side-event with Lord Stern as keynote speaker and the CEO; this was in collaboration with the International Council for Sustainable Energy (ISCE) and the European Business Council on Sustainable Energy (e5);
    • The COP’s official reporting body (the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) independently reported on the event (see the video and report)
    • A joint UNFCCC press conference between the CEO, Lord Stern, and the IEA’s Jean-François Gagné (see webcast).
  • A series of Institute hosted side-events and exhibit including:
    • On Monday 7 November, the Institute co-sponsored with CO2GeoNet (Ton Wildenborg, CO2GeoNet) titled ‘Why CCS is considered essential to meet the 20C targets’ on Monday, 7 November: Mark Bonner (GCCSI), Marie Bysveen (Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Norwegian government), Stig Svenningsen (Norwegian government), Jonas Helseth (Bellona) and Tim Dixon (IEAGHG);
    • On Friday 11 November, ‘Industrial sector reliance on CCS’ moderated by Mark Bonner and included: Simon Bennett (IEA), David Hone (Chief Climate Advisor, Shell), Belinda Perriman (Commercialisation Manager, Teesside Collective Teesside), Trude Sundset (CEO, Gassnova) and Nicholas Walters (Communications and Public Policy Director, World Steel Association);
    • On Monday 14 November, ‘Can CCS meet the IPCC’s mitigation requirements?’ moderated by the CEO and included: Rodolfo Lacy Tomayo (Deputy Secretary of Planning and Environmental Policy – Mexico government), Jean-François Gagné(IEA Head – Energy Technology Policy Division), Jim Skea (Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College and IPCC co-Chair – WGIII), Timothy Juliani (C2ES Sr. Dir., Business Strategy and Partnerships) and Gianpiero Nacci (EBRD Head – Industrial and Business Energy Efficiency Pillar);
    • On Tuesday 15 November, a UNFCCC endorsed side-event ‘Taking the Clean Energy Transformation from NDCs to action’ with Lord Stern and the CEO; and
    • Participated in a number of externally-led events including on Tuesday 15 November, CPP4 hosted ‘EOR for storage’ in addition to EBRD with John Scowcroft presenting at both; and on Friday 18 November, a Bizmef ‘Business engagement in NDCs’ with John Scowcroft invited to offer a closing response. 
    • Hosted a UNFCCC exhibit in the final week offering a broad range of information fact sheets.

In the margins of the conference, the Institute held discussions with ministers, senior business persons and other senior officials, key UNFCCC personnel and a number of reporters; as well as hosted an informal ‘CCS community’ reception. It supported its COP 22 campaign through a dedicated website where daily updates on the state of play of negotiations were loaded, and advanced notification of side-events (its own and other CCS relevant events) were made. Many of the videos taken at COP 22 can be accessed from our designated COP 22 website.

The Institute also collaborated with the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA) at the Business Hub and sponsored the Nordic Pavilion.

In closing, the Institute will draft in the coming weeks a number of COP 22 related reports that provide insights into relevant technical issues as well as citing expert opinions that were either directly discussed at and/or offered to the Institute’s staff during the two week conference. In the meantime, the business of the UNFCCC will resume in 2017 with a number of important submission processes, workshops and scheduled meetings of the TEC, CTCN, the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the IPCC and the intersessional meeting. For COP 23 in 2017, the new Presidency will be Fiji and the conference will take place in Bonn, Germany.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact: Mark Bonner, Program Lead – International Climate Change, John Scowcroft – Executive Adviser or Meade Goodwin, Senior Adviser – Americas.