Moving Ahead: Driving Action on SDG #7 at COP22

MARRAKECH, Morocco - COP22 closed with renewed calls to fast-track action and maintain the highest possible level of ambition in combating climate change, while ensuring universal access to sustainable energy.

This year’s UN climate change conference was held less than a year after the Sustainable Development Goals came into force and the historic Paris Agreement was struck at COP21 – an Agreement that came into effect just days before the Marrakech talks opened.

The unprecedented speed in ratification of the Agreement set the stage for this year’s COP to focus on action and implementation, with new announcements and initiatives continuing to reinforce how we are now on an irreversible pathway to a prosperous, low-carbon future – and one where we can, and must, achieve sustainable energy for all.

This action was highlighted across the two weeks, ranging from businesses and investors making new commitments around energy use and energy productivity, to national governments – including Mexico, Canada, the United States and Germany – announcing new 2050 climate strategies.

In the negotiation halls, governments set a 2018 deadline to complete the rule book on bringing the Paris Agreement into operation, and agreed the Marrakech Action Proclamation focusing on our collective future for climate and sustainable development.

The Proclamation, agreed by all parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), reaffirmed their commitment to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. As of Tuesday, 23 November, 113 countries have ratified the Agreement.

The official announcement was complemented by civil society action in Marrakech, with hundreds of people posing together on the final day of COP next to a giant banner bearing the words 'We Will Move Ahead', to show their determination to continue action against climate change.

Following the close of the conference, Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said: “The landmark Paris Agreement set the course and the destination for global climate action. Here in Marrakech, governments underlined that this shift is now urgent, irreversible and unstoppable.”

One of the highlights of this year’s COP came on the final day of talks, when the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a group of more than 40 nations vulnerable to the effects of climate change, released a declaration that strengthens the call to limit the global temperature rise to as close to 1.5°C as possible.

This Marrakech Vision commits CVF countries to various ambitious aims, including achieving 100% renewable energy between 2030 and 2050.

Speaking on the announcement, Rachel Kyte, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, said: "The Climate Vulnerable Forum helped change the thinking around vulnerability before Paris. Now these vulnerable countries at all stages of development send a clear signal that they are moving forward and getting on with the challenge of building clean, resilient, inclusive economies. We should be grateful for them. Sustainable Energy for All will support them. We will leave no one behind."

Energy poverty still affects billions of people around the world. Yet financing to close the energy access gap – one of the main targets of SDG #7 – remains far too slow, claiming less than 1% of current global investment in the energy sector.

To fill this gap, and to spur a new stream of finance for innovative solutions, a new, independent global campaign, ‘One for All’, was announced during COP’s closing High-Level Event. The campaign will see its full launch at the 2017 Sustainable Energy for All Forum in New York in April 2017.

Those joining the campaign will commit to investing 1% of their assets in energy access, as a blend of grants and investments. If 1% of an estimated $500 billion in capital worked to close the access gap, that would generate $5 billion for energy access.

Also announced during the second week of COP was the Biofuture Platform, a new collective effort to accelerate development and scale up deployment of modern, sustainable low-carbon alternatives to fossil-based transport fuels, industrial processes, chemicals, plastics and other sectors.

The Biofuture Platform encompasses some of the countries most relevant to driving markets and innovation in advanced biofuels and biomaterials. The list of participating countries comprises Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Netherlands, Morocco, Mozambique, Paraguay, Philippines, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the  United States and Uruguay.

Running throughout the two weeks was the COP22 Action Agenda, a series of thematic days addressing core themes and issues, hosted by Climate Champions Laurence Tubiana and Hakima El Haité under the auspices of the COP22 Presidency.

Within the Action Agenda was Energy Day, organized jointly by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), in cooperation with the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy (MASEN) and the Moroccan Agency for Energy Efficiency (AMEE).

Business and policy leaders came together to discuss what action is needed to achieve a global energy transition, continue to increase renewables in the energy mix, promote a rapid increase in energy productivity and support an integrated approach to energy that embraces centralized and decentralized sources.

Announcements timed to coincide with Energy Day included new commitments from the RE100 and EP100 campaigns, with companies pledging to go 100% renewable across their operations, and others committing to double their energy productivity.

Speaking at the Energy Day press conference, Minister El Haité, Climate Champion and Moroccan Minister for Energy, Mining, Water and Environment, said: “This is a story of human rights. This is a story of development. This day for me is not just ‘Energy Day’, this is ‘Dignity Day’. This day is very important because energy is not only the sector that will give the maximum impact to reduce CO2 emissions, but it is also the sector that can allow dignity, development, and stability in the world.”

Read our report on the outcomes of Energy Day here, or watch the COP22 recap video here.

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