By Salote Soqo,
UUSC Senior Program Leader for Environmental Justice and Climate Action
Two days into COP 22 and Marrakech is swarming with various stakeholders from around the globe. This COP, dubbed by many as the African COP due to its location and the strong turn up of the African diaspora is focused on accelerating implementation of the Paris Agreement, which was ratified by 100 Parties on November 4th, including the United States. The world broke out in celebration when the Paris Agreement was adopted, and we can still feel the momentum here in Marrakech. What has been exciting so far, is the expected outcome that COP 22 will produce a roadmap for how things will proceed - such as how the GCF will achieve its mandate of reaching US$100 billion by 2020, or how States will report their emissions and reductions, etc. However, whether COP 22 will actually produce something tangible, just, equitable and sustainable is the concern of many civil society organizations.
The Paris Agreement is about the post-2020 timeframe. It's about countries committing to do the best they can to reduce their emissions and to work toward keeping global temperature increases to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. What then does this mean for pre-existing commitments such as the Kyoto Protocol and its Doha Amendment? Doha, which was adopted by Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in Qatar in 2012, was meant to provide a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which is a legally binding emissions reduction treaty, necessary for global climate action for the years leading up to 2020.
However, Doha is still not in effect. The focus so far has been on the Paris Agreement and its implementation. If Parties are serious about Paris, they have to implement Doha. Civil society organization, Friends of the Earth Malaysia, states that this might be a loophole that will allow developed countries to escape their existing commitments. Friends of the Earth Malaysia representative Meena Raman gave the EU as an example: "The EU, which has not ratified Doha is racing like a Japanese speed train to ratify Paris. Have they forgotten about their commitment to Doha?” Where is the United States in all this? While the US did ratify Paris, the state has no obligation to the Doha Amendment because it did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol (sigh).
Civil society organizations have to tell our leaders that the UNFCCC, Kyoto and Paris Agreements are not subjects for coffee room discussions. Initiatives, pledges and plans are not enough to deal with the catastrophic issues affecting Mother Earth and our communities. UUSC and the rest of the UUA delegates are joining our allies from all around the globe here in Marrakech to remind our global leaders to act out their commitments. An accelerated action on Paris Agreement requires the implementation of the Doha Amendment to Kyoto Protocol.
Salote Soqo leads the implementation of UUSC’s environmental justice and climate action program. As Senior Program Leader, she works to identify, develop and evaluate a new human rights portfolio focused on environmental issues affecting vulnerable individuals and communities, with special emphasis on resource rights such as the human right to water, food sovereignty and climate change.