United front to push on with Paris accord welcomed, but aid groups say talks disappointed on help for the poor
By Megan Rowling
MARRAKESH, Morocco, Nov 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Governments have plenty of unfinished business to hammer out a rule book for the new Paris Agreement on climate change by 2018, experts said as U.N. negotiations wound up early on Saturday.
Many environment and development groups welcomed the united front presented by some 195 nations as they faced a campaign threat to quit the accord by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, which cast a shadow over the two-week gathering in Morocco.
"We call for the highest political commitment to combat climate change, as a matter of urgent priority," governments said in the Marrakesh Action Proclamation issued on Thursday. The Paris Agreement has been ratified by 111 countries so far.
Commitments by developing countries to shift their economies to run on renewable energy were a highlight of the talks, as were efforts by businesses and cities to forge ahead with green policies.
But aid agencies were disappointed by a lack of concrete targets to boost international government funding to help poor communities adapt to more extreme weather and rising seas.
Here is a selection of comments from officials and civil society observers on the outcomes of the talks:
BARBARA HENDRICKS, GERMAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTER
"We made the most of the momentum of recent months and laid important foundations for swift and ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement.
"The transformation to a climate-friendly world agreed on in Paris is well underway and can no longer be halted. Climate action has long become a driving force for jobs and a guarantee for sustainable economic development.
"New stakeholders in international climate action are emerging in the form of committed cities, towns and municipalities. They will help us further accelerate the global climate transformation."
PATRICIA ESPINOSA, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, U.N. FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
“(At the Marrakesh talks), the strength, the support for and the robustness of the Paris Agreement was furthered underlined, with nine more ratifications received at the U.N. in New York and the promise of many more to come.
"Nations reaffirmed that the agreement is in their national interests and a key catalyst to a better, more prosperous future for their citizens."
MIGUEL ARIAS CAÑETE, EU COMMISSIONER FOR CLIMATE ACTION AND ENERGY
"The progress here in Marrakesh is the clearest proof that the world is forging ahead on global climate action. Climate change is bigger than any one country, any one election. And despite all the current uncertainties, this is our clear message from Marrakesh: We will stand by Paris, we will defend Paris, and we will implement Paris.
"The global clean energy transition is here to stay, and Europe will continue to lead the way towards a more sustainable and competitive economy."
MANUEL PULGAR-VIDAL, LEADER OF CLIMATE AND ENERGY PRACTICE, WWF INTERNATIONAL
"In Marrakesh, countries agreed to take stock of progress in two years and make every effort to come back with more ambitious targets and plans before 2020 to ensure we work quickly to close the widening emissions gap. This is a critical outcome this week that further solidified progress on the Paris Agreement.
"The negotiations kick-started a critical discussion about the rules for implementing the agreement and accelerating climate action. It set the path for the next set of negotiations to complete those rules and raise ambition, paving the way to tighten national commitments, improve preparedness at home and provide financial support in line with science and equity."
DAVID TURNBULL, CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR, OIL CHANGE INTERNATIONAL
"While the U.S. election could have derailed the negotiations, what's happened in Marrakesh has given hope that global action on climate change will not be deterred by isolated politicians.
"These negotiations' outcome once again failed to meet the urgency of the climate crisis, but countries and social movements came together to keep pushing forward at a time when resolve is essential."
KRISHNEIL NARAYAN, COORDINATOR, PACIFIC ISLANDS CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK
"There is a lot of work still to be done in the realisation of goals set out in the Paris Agreement but the partnerships and overall political willingness of the countries to move forward together is commendable.
"In particular, the collective commitment shown towards the Paris Agreement despite the concerns arising on the climate change positions of the incoming United States President-elect Donald Trump sends a signal that the debate on the realities of climate change is over and that the world is committed to solving the climate change problem."
ALDEN MEYER, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGY AND POLICY, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS
"The outcome of last week's presidential elections has raised serious doubts about the continued commitment of the United States to the international climate framework after President Obama leaves office.
"The good news is that country after country here in Marrakesh made it crystal clear... 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 United States out of Paris they will follow him."
CHRISTOPH BALS, POLICY DIRECTOR, GERMANWATCH
"The Marrakesh summit showed that there is unstoppable momentum to put the Paris Agreement into practice, despite the outcome of the U.S. elections. China especially seems ready to step into the looming vacuum. The EU also has to decide whether it wants to play a global leadership role in the coming years."
WOLFGANG JAMANN, SECRETARY GENERAL, CARE INTERNATIONAL
"Technical negotiations showed progress but the plight of the poorest and especially women and girls still demand a clearer roadmap and money to match. We are also calling on governments and business to make emission cuts now that respect the 1.5 degrees (warming) limit so that a desperate situation does not completely spiral out of our control."
HARJEET SINGH, GLOBAL LEAD ON CLIMATE CHANGE, ACTIONAID
"The job here in Marrakesh was to start writing the rule book for the Paris Agreement and to take urgent action. But the issue of finance has thrown a spanner in the works.
"Although several countries have made welcome contributions to immediate finance needs, rich countries have been trying to wriggle out of their pledges to help poorer countries meet the costs of coping with impacts and greening their economies.
"Climate action will cost money that poorer countries simply don't have. The general message to developing countries is 'You're on your own'."
ISABEL KREISLER, CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY LEAD, OXFAM INTERNATIONAL
"This was billed as a conference for action and implementation of the Paris Agreement. Instead, we saw a stubborn refusal from developed country ministers and negotiators to fill the adaptation finance gap and face the fact that the Agreement doesn't fully protect lives that will suffer the most from climate change.
"Adaptation finance is not just an abstract numbers game. It's about providing women farmers in Africa with seeds to plant drought-resistant crops and feed their families."
JENNIFER MORGAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GREENPEACE INTERNATIONAL
"If governments are serious about the Paris Agreement, not a single new fossil fuel project can be licensed anymore. To avoid climate catastrophe we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground, protect our forests and oceans and shift to ecological agriculture and 100 percent renewable energy. We will be the generation that ends fossil fuels."
MOHAMED ADOW, INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE LEAD, CHRISTIAN AID
"It was fitting that on African soil it was the most vulnerable countries that showed the most leadership with their bold pledges to switch to 100 percent renewable energy as soon as possible.
"This is despite the fact that, as poor and vulnerable nations with little historical responsibility for causing climate change, they were not required to act so quickly.
"The rest of the world now needs to harness this sentiment and follow suit by doing more to accelerate the low carbon transition we need to keep temperature rise to 1.5 degrees."
(Reporting by Megan Rowling @meganrowling; editing by Laurie Goering. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.