Other Blog Posts

BreakFree: the voice of vulnerable but defiant

Written by Amit Kumar, Pacific Islands CAN Leadership Development Fellow

The Pacific Island countries and other Small Islands Developing States have learnt the hard way how climate change impacts our islands. While we continually prepare for worse to come, knowing that extreme changes are happening in our climate at an unprecedented rate, the coal and fuel fossil industry is constantly searching for opportunities to develop, in pursuit of new operations.

In the Pacific, many of the poor and vulnerable do not have a voice to represent their concerns and hardships. They may not know the science behind unexpected changes in weather patterns they experience firsthand. They are puzzled, as such unpredictable changes in climatic patterns is beyond the scope of their traditional ecological knowledge, but they know it is driven by a force other than the nature.

Therefore, we need organisations and/or movements such as Break Free to represent our voice and act with us and for us where we cannot reach. We are grateful that Break Free is calling for action with local and international organisations, grassroots groups and coalitions, to join a global movement for a transition to 100% renewable energy.

As a Pacific Islander, I support BreakFree for a positive change to the just transition to 100% renewable energy for an economy that I know possible with lower ecological footprint. A  100% renewable energy and green economy has already been demonstrated by some countries. Bhutan is a great example.

Pacific Islanders are afraid that our lands are reducing in size and our invaluable ecosystems that support our livelihoods are being ruined. It is better now than tomorrow to start the transition to 100% renewable energy, so that we leave the remaining carbon in the ground. In this world of possibilities, let’s not procrastinate. Right now, for a greener future, we Pacific Islanders are urging organisations, coalitions, groups and networks to join BreakFree take action to resolve the transition off fossil fuels.



An opportunity worth taking

In his final blog as a Leadership Development Fellow, Amit Kumar reflects on his time in the programme. 

It is rare to find a opportunity in the Pacific Region’s civil society sector which aims to build capacity and leadership skills of young professionals who are inspired to work on climate change and sustainable development. But CAN’s Leadership Development Programme did this for me.

I was fortunate to come across this opportunity through my colleague and have been able to experience working at the regional level and witnessing sophisticated policy making processes at the international level by attending COP21.

The LDP Fellowship with CAN International has allowed me to work with Pacific Islands’ Climate Action Network (PICAN) whilst gaining valuable experience in areas such as organisational (network) strengthening, policy making, advocacy, campaigning, developing website content, and using social media to deliver key messages efficiently and effectively.

Policy making, advocacy and campaigning were areas that I really needed to develop upon prior to engaging in this programme. The LDP fellowship offered this opportunity as part of their capacity building agenda. Being actively involved in these areas of the programme has increased my confidence  to use my skills and abilities independently.

One of the best parts of this programme was attending the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 in Paris. Active involvement with the CAN-Secretariat during COP 21 allowed me to access high-level plenary sessions and enabled me to directly report for the entire CAN community. In the end, I accomplished my desired objectives, although being part of the CAN-Secretariat demands  a lot of passion for the cause.

During COP21, I was able to gain good insight into the strength of civil society to influence governments to accommodate our feedback on thel agreement. I closely followed the negotiations processes and saw that the enormous amount of work in the run up to COP21, done by academics, delegations and professionals across all sectors and disciplines had to be negotiated within a very short two week period – an immense workload and psychological burden. Eventually, the Paris agreement - a 30 page long document - was agreed upon.   

The entire programme has provided an instrumental experience that aligns very well with my future professional goals and my master studies. PICAN’s flexible working hours and virtual office    arrangement allowed me to study and work simultaneously.

It was my first experience working in a virtual office and it felt like I was working in a face-to-face environment. The Climate Action Network community operates in a close knit virtual environment setting and continues to effectively engage its members across the globe. I am very confident that the knowledge and skills I gained from this programme will support me in the next level of challenges.


Hopenhagen in Le Bourget

By Adrian Yeo

Not too long ago, there was a COP labeled as the most important juncture in climate negotiations. It was a culmination of a few years of intense negotiations which will craft our way forward post-2015. It had to be a success to save the climate. That year was 2009 at COP15 in Bella Centre, in the city of Copenhagen, Denmark. We all know what happened then.

Six years on, I arrived in Le Bourget, Paris, for the recent COP21. It felt so strangely familiar. Headlines around the world ringing a similar tune. The excitement in the air was equally apparent. However, it was also very different in many ways.

Instead of people reading climate change stories for the very first time like they were in 2015, climate change is already a subject much spoken about in the media. In the run up to COP21, many analytical papers, documentaries and even a Grist video have been produced in relation to climate change. Back in the days of Copenhagen, the media and the public were still grappling on how to explain the complexity of climate change, let alone the COP process.

With much secrecy and almost no figures and plans on the table prior to COP15, parties came in with armour and shields, ready for a long, arduous debate. However at COP21, countries had to submit INDCs ahead of time so pledges and plans were shared way ahead. Parties were better informed, especially the developing countries, on the commitment and ‘game plans’ of developed countries. Thus the feeling of hope and confidence in the success of COP21 was felt strongly since Day 1.

Everyone was smiling and at ease, even with the extended State of Emergency after the tragedy that rocked Paris just weeks before. It must have been something in the water at the venue.

“It is a changed world in 2015”, many were quoted as saying in the meeting rooms. Many developing countries showed leadership and invested massively in a low or zero emissions future. We saw China and India being the largest consumers of solar and wind energy. Our friends from the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) even set up their own trust fund to assist each other. With such commitment and pressure, the actors from developed countries will be put to shame if nothing good comes out of the implementation of COP21.

The Paris Agreement brought the real meaning in Hopenhagen, a tagline used back in the Scandinavian country. Delegates went home with a clear target and timeline. Something all of us can work with.


Image credit: Joachim Ladefoged

Record Breaking COP21


Besides producing the Paris Agreement, COP21 has broken many records. Here are some notable ones from Adrian Yeo, CAN Leadership Development Fellow.

We started COP21 a day ahead of schedule. The much anticipated UNFCCC proceedings were supposed to start on Monday, 30th November, and the parties would have informally met the beginning of the week before. By the Friday before COP began, we were hearing news that it would begin one day earlier and the meetings officially started on Sunday, 29th November.  http://unfccc.int/meetings/paris_nov_2015/session/9126.php

Biggest gathering of world leaders in a UN event. Over 150 heads of state and government arrived at the conference venue on Monday to give their public support, the largest group of leaders ever to attend a UN event in a single day.

40,000 (some say 50,000), the total number of participants. This figure includes 25,000 official delegates (government figures along with representatives from intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, NGOs, civil society), 3,000 accredited journalists who noted down every development, organizers, speakers and world leaders. The largest previous summit was the Copenhagen COP15 in 2009 with roughly 27,000 participants.

Not 1, but 2 CAN Parties. Up until the middle of the first week of COP, the CAN/CSO party was a no-go, due to security and various other reasons. But seasoned COPers just wouldn’t buy it. Kudos to the CAN Secretariat, the ‘underground’ party was announced. Much to everyone’s surprise, we even granted a second edition right after COP closed.

Warmest Year on record. A preliminary estimate based on data from January to October shows that the global average surface temperature for 2015 so far was around 0.73 °C above the 1961-1990 average of 14.0°C and approximately 1°C above the pre-industrial 1880-1899 period. This temperature tendency indicates that 2015 will very likely be the warmest year on record. https://www.wmo.int/media/content/wmo-2015-likely-be-warmest-record-2011...

Adopt A Negotiator reached 400th article milestone. A big congratulations to our friends from GCCA and Adopt A Negotiator Program with their 400th articles, videos, infographics and sorts. The COP21 song playlist is phenomenal. http://climatetracker.org/climate-trackers-post-their-400th-article-of-cop21-break-tracking-record/

For the first time, a limit of 1.5C has been locked into the treaty after a concerted push by small island nations (SIDs) who said their very existence was threatened if the world limited global warming to 2C. The treaty said the world will be "holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels, recognising that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change".

Global fossil fuel divestment push hits a record-breaking $3.4tr. The record-breaking figure was announced today at the UN's Paris Climate Summit by campaign groups 350.org and Divest-Invest. The update came alongside a slew of new divestment pledges from 19 French cities, including Lille, Bordeaux, Dijon and Rannes. The $3.4tr represents the total assets under management by all the institutions, not the amount of money being divested - which is difficult to track accurately, according to 350.org. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-02/fossil-fuel-divestment-tops-3-4-trillion-mark-activists-say


In retrospect: Last 48hrs of COP

We are sharing this blog piece in retrospect, written by CAN's Leadership Development Programme Fellow in South Africa, Neoka Naidoo, during the last hours of COP. 

As we enter the last 48 hours of negotiations, I wanted to focus today’s post on some of the people and solutions that have inspired me on this journey through COP21. 

1) Bringing down fossil fuels 

The day before I left for COP21 I had the privilege of watching Naomi Klein’s documentary  “This Changes Everything“. I must admit I have seen my fair share of documentaries, and for some reason they motivate me to try and do my best at my endeavours. I watched many people work together to make changes in their communities the best way they could. One of these inspiring people was Crystal Laymann from the Beaver Cree Nation, who is standing up against the tar sands extraction in Alberta, Canada.

Her community mobilized and fought against the destruction of their entrusted land. The tar sands are not only devastating for the environment, but of course also increases the amount of fossil fuels available to burn when we should be moving towards renewable energy. 

Neoka with Crystal Laymann

 2) The climate effects on vulnerable Kenyan farmers

Neoka with Kisilu Musaya (1)

Kisilu Musaya is a young farmer from the east of Kenya who is here in Paris. He made a conscious choice to change his farming practices after experiencing a huge amount of variation of weather and subsequent crop failure. With determination, he started a voluntary learning space within his community to share ideas, and plans to maximize the next crop after a drought. The community decided to plant drought resistant crops and using mulching techniques to stop evaporation from the soil.

Unfortunately, despite all that planning came yet more uncertainty, with the biggest flood they had ever seen. Paw paw trees that had taken five years to grow were obliterated in one night. As Kisilu said after a screening of ‘Kisilu Climate Diaries’, a documentary that followed his struggle over four years, “climate change has no privacy, so neither do I”. As he says, he is just one of many that are going through these drastic unpredictable events that threaten people’s very livelihoods and dignity. I found his story inspiring because of the innovation and resilience that he and his community have shown in the face of such terrible odds.

3) Renewable energy: the change that is necessary 

Neoka with Costa Rican head of delegation

I accidentally met the Costa Rican Minister of Agriculture and Environment yesterday. To date, Costa Rica has been able to use 100% renewable energy for 255 days of this year. Sceptics suggest that renewable energy cannot yet meet all of our energy needs, and yet with breakthroughs in battery storage and the cost per kilowatt from solar now cheaper than coal in some countries, this is questionable. Costa Rica proves the power of a just transition that many countries are going to have to accelerate if we are to hold to a 1.5 degree or even 2 degree future temperature rise.

 4) People, not politicians, must and will have the final word

As much as the UNFCCC is about the formal negotiations in which the diplomats, politicians and business are the principal actors, it is the energy in grassroots social movements that will be key to holding these leaders accountable for their decisions.

While this agreement is being negotiated, the variation in weather patterns is driving citizens (as well as progressive governments) to act now. The COP negotiations has another side to it that has produced an unintended consequence. Change is happening all around us, within our climate, within our communities, and within us all. It is the actions of social movements happening over the next few days outside of the negotiations in Paris, as well as the sit-in yesterday by civil society actors in the corridors themselves, that are critical to keeping pressure on the leaders over these last 48 hours in order to secure a better agreement.

In Paris this Saturday there will be mobilisations. The people will have the last word. 

SAIREC: What does it take to spur the energy transition?

Blog by Mareike Britten, Head of Global Campaign Coordination Climate Action Network International

Disclaimer: This blog presents solely the views of the author and not of any affiliated organisations

Here at SAIREC all speakers from the IRENA president, Adnan Amin to the Energy Minister of South Africa agree, that the future is powered by Renewable Energy (RE). 

Mr Amin stressed that more than 60 % of energy in Africa needs to come from decentralised RE sources to spur economic growth while providing energy access. In many countries, renewables are broadly competitive with conventional fuels, particularly in the power sector and it seems now an undisputable fact that energy access created through renewable energy is the path to job creation, growth, investment and poverty alleviation.  In Morocco the ambitious solar plans of the government aim to create 40,000 additional jobs by 2020 and in Mali the government has started a programme to provide 80% of electrification in rural areas through RE.

Renewable energy provided an estimated 19.1% of global final energy consumption in 2013, and growth in capacity and generation continued to expand in 2014. However to achieve the SE4All objective of doubling the share of renewables, the rate of progress will need to increase over 50%. Reduction in global primary energy intensity from 2010-2012 was substantial, but it is only at two thirds of the pace needed to reach the SE4All objective.  So during this conference I was wondering; what is in the way?

There are certain obstacles that many speakers have been highlighting at SAIREC that are still in the way of a true Renewable Energy Revolution:

Firstly:  Perceived risk among investors pushing up the costs of capital. In general renewable energy technologies are more capital intensive and so have higher up-front costs than fossil fuel equivalents, but have very low fuel costs. This means that energy costs are very sensitive to the capital and particularly the financing costs, which depend on the perceived risks associated with the project.

Secondly:  The lack of policy frameworks that enable a market approach rather than a project by project approach.

Thirdly: The lack of knowledge and expertise among policy makers and among the workforce to enable project development, implementation and maintenance.

Fourthly, and this is one obstacle that is not raised in official speeches but in the conversations during the coffee break;  the vested interests that are profiting from the status quo preventing the needed mind shift among decision makers.

During the conference I was searching for the answers and here are a few:

1. How to get the money flowing?

Of course political stability is a precondition to attract investors, but the government can do much more to decrease risk perception; it can provide preferential loans and grants as well as loan guarantees leveraging private sector investment by overcoming the lack of private financial instruments, facilitating market development, and mitigating risk.  In Kenya initiatives are underway to educate the private financial institutions and bankers and IRENA just launched a Virtual Market Place that is supposed to match investors and developers across Africa.

2. The right policies and capacity

Several speakers pointed out the need for credible short, medium and long term targets, backed up by clear governance, e.g. including an action plan designed to remove unnecessary barriers to deployment. It was pointed out that governments and cities that have set themselves ambitious 100% RE targets have spurred transformational discussions rather than discussions about incremental change with their peers opening up new thinking and action.  Furthermore adequate remuneration needs to be arranged which recognises the capital intensive nature of the renewable technologies. This could be in form of Feed in tariffs as it is used in many G20 countries or in form of e.g. an auctioning process.  In South Africa a RE bidding programme for Independent Power Producers has established almost 6000 MW of RE in a few years despite the Market not being liberalised. While many RE entrepreneurs feel that the Programme needs to be reformed and massively expanded and many civil society groups criticise that this bidding process doesn’t allow for community energy production, it is also felt that the Programme has proved that RE can deliver on time at lower costs than any other fuel source and with many benefits for the community.  Many people I spoke to believe that this Programme has opened the doors to massive RE uptake.

However governments need to address also the non economic barriers such as streamline planning and permitting, developing the necessary skills base and providing public information as well as enable technical and market integration necessary to integrate large shares of variable renewables.  IRENA launched in January 2014 the African Clean Energy Corridor working intensively with governments from Tanzania to South Africa with the aim to create regional integration, grid connections beyond borders and facilitate exchange. The facilitation of this regional collaboration on assessments, policies and markets will be another stepping stone to speed up RE uptake.

3.  Breaking the status quo

There are many vested interests that want to prevent change even if RE can deliver jobs, health benefits and cheaper electricity.  The Theory of Change many are operating on assumes that decisions by decision makers are being made on a rational basis. However power politics and interests often get in the way, preventing the needed change.  I believe that it is exactly here where civil society needs to cleverly engage and work with other actors finding new allies to change the distribution of power.

During the conference cities as key actors on RE have been moved more and more into the limelight. 60% of the area yet to be build will be urban. Cities are the main cornerstone where all problems (affordable housing, efficient transport, affordable electricity, air quality etc) come together and an integrated approach is needed.  Currently urbanisation often leads to poverty increase. However that doesn’t need to be the case. More and more cities are taking the lead to a holistic integrated approach where the move to RE and the implementation of Energy Efficiency play a key role in poverty alleviation.

Organisations working closely with cities towards a future entirely powered by RE have put together a range of recommendations that centre around the need for active citizen and business participation and there are many multistakeholder platforms and networks that help cities share their learning and create new ambitions. To push these ambitions and create a bottom up movement that will help break the status quo on a national level, what is needed is the political willingness to act. This is where civil society and voters can play a crucial role making clear that the future they want to live in is one powered by Renewable Energy.

CAN director gives statement at Post 2015 Sustainable Development Agenda negotiations

Distinguished Co-Facilitators,

Thank you for this opportunity to interact.

As we all know, climate change impacts are unfolding rapidly, threatening poverty eradication and putting  the attainment of the sustainable development goals and targets at risk as recognised in the Secretary General’s Synthesis Report. Right now the preamble and declaration fall short of adequately emphasizing the link between climate change and poverty eradication and recognizing the new solutions available, which can inspire all members of society to act against climate change and end poverty in the next 15 years.

We need a visionary declaration that drives inspiration and ensures that climate change is treated as a development issue, rather than portraying it as solely environmental issue. We recommend to improve the integration of the social, environmental and economic dimensions of sustainable development starting with the preamble. We propose to separate climate change and natural resources, to strengthen the cities and human settlement headline- emphasizing the need for cities to be resilient and sustainable, to have a focus on sustainable economic development rather than on growth  and to include sustainable energy and energy access in headline two as key solutions on how to achieve sustainable economic development.

Clear references to phasing out emissions and phasing  in renewable energy in the vision and the declaration (Paragraph  27) are essential. By adding a reference to the urgent need of phasing out fossil fuel emissions and phasing in renewable energy, we can shed a light on how to provide energy access to people in marginalised areas, achieve sustainable development and a common temperature goal of 1.5ºC, that can inspire all members of society to act against climate change and end poverty in the next 15 years.

The declaration must show countries determination to decisively address the threat posed by climate change by ensuring climate resilient development. To build resilience, including of marginalized people and vulnerable groups, we need to promote climate justice and maximize resources for investment in low-carbon development paths through adequate and appropriate financing, technology transfer and capacity building for poorer countries.

Climate change is an existential crisis which we all need to address now. The post-2015 agenda has a unique role to play in tackling climate change while fighting poverty and inequality and by that getting closer to a more sustainable future in 2030.  It will be also crucial to send a strong signal of political ambition for COP21 in December.

Thank you.


Bumps in the road to Paris

Written by Neoka Naidoo, Leadership Development Fellow from South Africa. 

The thing that resonates with me about the UNFCCC process, and I take it resonates with everyone else within the CAN community, is the disparity between political will and action. Everyone sitting in the plenaries knows what the impacts of climate change are and how this will negatively affect people back in their countries, but the actions back home continue to be slow comparatively to the ambitious action that is required, according to the science, to minimize the catestrophic impacts of climate change.

Nikola Tesla proclaimed that “the individual is ephemeral, races and nations come and pass away, but man remains” and this might have been true in his time but after reflecting on SB42, so much has happened and nothing has changed. In my opinion there are no climate borders that align with our political borders, so its about time we realised it. Our leaders need to act because the likelihood of, to quote Tesla, 'man remaining' is decreasing. But I believe the UNFCCC process stilll provides an opportunity to come together and realize our common humanity. This is especially the case  within the smaller sessions, like the SB42, where the creases are ironed out and political disagreements resolved. In the same breath common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities need to be upheld.

Our thinking needs to be amalgamated with the great sense of humanity. This is not the time to silo climate change because it is difficult topic but rather embrace the cavity that calls for innovation.

The trip ended just before the Papal Encyclical and the REN 21 report were launched. These complimented each other, one pointing out the great moral duty we have to act, with the REN21 report showing that the path to 100% renewable energy is already laid out, and we just need the courage from our political leaders to take it.


4 Things I learnt from the June 2015 Bonn Session

Written by Adrian Yeo, CAN Leadership Development Fellow from CAN South East Asia. 
Like every UNFCCC Session, the recent Bonn #SB42 2015 was so fast paced there is barely time to make your own reflection. So now, a few weeks later, here are 4 things I learnt from this Bonn Session that I wish to share with you.
All members work as one. Unlike small party delegations, like Saudi Arabia for example, who have to dash from one meeting to another and sometimes only making it half way through, CAN coordination allows smaller CSO delegations to work together and tap on the experience and expertise of the wider network. CAN members share intelligence, gossip and strategies throughout the session in their daily meetings and on CAN-Talk. This goes beyond their own organisation that they represent. Many CAN working groups produce results as a team and not individually. I really appreciate this.
Many of the old guard from YOUNGO are still around, doing great work. I was heavily involved in the youth constituency, YOUNGO, back in 2009-2010. It is amazing how many YOUNGO-ers from back then are the movers and shakers of today’s negotiations. Education and early exposure of the UNFCCC process is important, and must be inclusive and accessible to all, championing diversity in gender, country, language and age. We should have more capacity building workshops to ensure young people from civil society will continue to be involved in the UNFCCC during their careers.
Malaysia’s negotiators bike to the meeting venue! One morning as I was walking towards the Conference Centre I saw Dr Gary Theseira, a Malaysian negotiator, locking up his bike. He takes C02 emission reduction seriously, and puts it into practice.
One must be very focused to be effective. At any one time, there could be 5-6 meetings happening during the session, side events, actions by civil societies, bi-laterals, briefings and CAN working group meetings. It is a well-documented diagnosis called “COP Fever” where you get lost in the circus of things, so one has to have a laser focus on your role and your objectives in coming to these meetings. Make a priority list and never let anything come in between, including lunch.


Morocco's INDC - A strong signal coming from the first Arab country

Morocco, which will be the host of the 22nd climate negotiations in 2016, reacently submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UNFCCC. This makes Morocco the first Arab and second African country to put forward its national mitigation target and manifests its climate and energy leadership in the region.

The Moroccan INDC encompasses two economy-wide targets covering CO2, CH4, and N2O: An unconditional target and another based on certain requirements to unlock the country's maximum ambition.

  • Unconditional target: By investing around $10 billon into greening its economy, Morocco is committed to reduce its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions unconditionally by 13% below Business as Usual (BAU) by 2030 and according to the base year of 2010;
  • Conditional target: Under the condition that a) significant additional finance could spur $35 billion in support between 2015-2030 as financial, technical and capacity support through new climate finance mechanisms by other countries, and b) a new legally-binding agreement under the UNFCCC would be adopted at the 21st COP in Paris, the emission reductions could increase to 32% below BAU by 2030;

Driven by increased energy demand Morocco has seen a steep increase in its GHG emissions in recent years. Total GHG emissions almost doubled in the last decade and the emitted 94 million tons (MT) of GHG in 2010 are again expected to increase by more than 80% to 171 MT in 2030 under BAU. For the unconditional target, the pledged 13% GHG reduction translates into an increase to 129 MT in 2025 and 148 MT by 2030, which equals a cumulative GHG mitigation of 142 MT compared to BAU. If the required conditions for the 32% target would be met, the emissions would still increase but rather slowly reaching 104 MT in 2025 and 117 MT by 2030, thereby saving 401 MT GHG over the BAU period 2010-2030.

In order to achieve the targets set in the INDC, the country has given clear and transparent indications on the additional mitigation actions needed. The unconditional target is based on the implementation of 10 actions, while the conditional target assumes 54 actions over the period 2010-2030 in the main economic sectors.

  • Energy (50%): Energy production and demand (i.e., households, transport, industry services);
  • Agriculture (26%): Fermentation, cropping systems;
  • Waste (18%): Solid waste and waste water management;
  • Land use and forestry (5%): Afforestation, horticulture, forest fires;
  • Industrial processes (1%): Cement industry, steel and metal manufacturing;

All these actions are rooted in national priorities and policies, thereby making them part of a coherent sustainable development strategy. The most prominent ones are: the National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD), the National Strategy to Combat Global Warming (NSGW), the Green Morocco Plan (GMP), the Green Investment Plan (GIP) and the Moroccan Solar Plan (MSP).

Due to its acute vulnerability to climate change, Morocco's INDC also includes a climate adaptation component which will be complemented by the development of a National Adaptation Plan (NAP) focusing on decreasing the vulnerability of the country's largely agrarian population and better coordinating the envisioned actions.

  • Adaptation target: Morocco seeks to continue its efforts to increase the resilience of key infrastructures, vulnerable populations and fragile ecosystems, especially in the mountain, oases and coastal areas, by devoting at least 15% of its overall investment expenditures to adaptation actions, such as integrated water resource management and artificial refill of aquifers, anti-desertification measures, protection of cultural heritage, and conversion of grain crop areas to fruit plantations.

How ambitious is the Moroccan INDC?

Despite Morocco being responsible for less than 0.2% of global GHG emissions, and with its per capita emissions of 3 tons being well below the global average and four times lower than the average of industrialized countries, the country's progress in climate policy planning and institution building over recent years has been commendable. Its commitment towards a climate-compatible and low-carbon development pathway is mirrored in its institutional framework, multiple national plans and international agreements. As a result of its great political efforts, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) identified Morocco already as the biggest global recipient of international climate funds. Furthermore, the 2015 Climate Performance Index published by Germanwatch and ClimateActionNetwork currently ranks Morocco among the top ten countries globally and first among African and developing countries based on its climate and energy policies.

Being the first Arab country to submit its INDC, Morocco continues to demonstrate its political willingness and responsibility to fight climate change by promoting an ambitious outcome at the COP 21 in Paris, both as a regional climate policy leader and as the host of COP 22 in 2016. The kingdom's suggested mitigation and adaptation actions to achieve the INDC targets are coherent with national policies and a clear follow-up of its previous efforts which show that in developing countries the right policies can contribute to the fight against climate change and the achievement of sustainable development objectives simultaneously.

For a developing country for which its annual GHG emission growth is projected to reach levels of 7% and who's future focus will be on adaptation due to its high climate vulnerability, setting formal targets for curbing its emission trend downwards by 13% or 32% respectively means a significant strengthening of Morocco's ambition. Reflecting on the country's capacities, the Moroccan commitment therefore can be regarded a positive step that should encourage other countries to follow by announcing their own climate mitigation pledges in a timely fashion. Further positive elements of Morocco's INDC include the specification of economy-wide emission reduction targets and timeframes with a special focus on energy through a) the extension of the national solar and wind programs in order to increase the installed capacity to more than 50% by 2025, b) reducing energy consumption in buildings, transport and industry by 15% by 2030, and c) phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. These transparent clarifications on what can be achieved with and without international support send a clear signal to private investors and make access to international climate finances (i.e., GCF) more likely.

Although the constraints stipulated by climate science leave now doubt that global GHG emissions must peak by 2020 and phase out in the long term in order to limit global warming to below 2°C, Morocco's INDC indicates a shallow but steady increase of absolute emissions until 2030. Yet, this could still be considered fair as countries of the Global South should be allowed to peak their emissions later than industrialized countries. What is remarkable, however, is that despite no emission peak year has been mentioned in the Moroccan INDC, the emission trend illustrated in both targets appears to sharply decline after 2029, suggesting an emission peak and a decoupling of Morocco's GHG emissions from economic growth and the effective transition towards a green economy at the end of the INDC period. An assumption which is also reflected in a statement mentioned in the INDC that within the conditional target the per capita emissions would not exceed 3.1 tons CO2eq in 2029.

Although, there are many positive aspects to be found in Morocco's INDC that could term it ambitious, there are also critical issues. Based on the analysis provided by the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the ambition of the INDC is only rated as "Medium", not yet consistent with limiting warming below 2°C unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort. The reason for this primarily stems from the fact that.

Furthermore, referring its mitigation targets relative to BAU as baseline rather than to a base year raises questions over how the pledge would be adjusted if the emission development would differ from the projected BAU - especially considering uncertainties about future economic and demographic growth. While this approach is in line with the target setting of other developing countries (e.g., Gabon), making it appear more ambitious than measured against a base year, it is significantly different than the approach taken by the EU for example. Because global temperature rise ultimately depends on cumulative emissions, Morocco should therefore, not view its submitted INDC as the final word on what could be achieved, but rather as a first concrete step to operationalize a dynamic process to avoid dangerous climate change. In this regard, and as a next step forward, the host of the COP 22 in 2016 should build on its ambition of action and consider progressively increasing it targets throughout the target period and clarify the level and year at which the country expects its emissions to peak. The planned international INDC forum in Casablanca in October 2015 organized by the Moroccan Government to examine the global progress of the INDC submissions could provide an opportunity for such readjustments.

While shortcomings indicate room for improvement, some of the suggested measures to achieve the pledged targets should be abandoned overall. What is especially disappointing is that instead of moving towards a low-carbon economy based on 100% renewable energy sources, which is both feasible and economically viable due to the country's abundant sun and wind potential, some mitigation actions would definitely thwart Morocco's role as a regional climate and renewable energy leader. This concerns the suggested switch from coal to substantially increased imports of liquefied gas that would manifest the country's energy import dependency and create a fossil lock-in. Even more worrying are the plans to build a nuclear power plant after 2030 which certainly cannot be regarded part of a sustainable energy future.

Lastly, although stated to have undertaken a broad stakeholder consultation process, no civil society representatives were consulted during the preparation and review process of the submitted INDC ambition levels and their respective actions. The good news is however, that the early submission now allows the Moroccan Government to establish a transparent and inclusive dialogue with civil society to ensure their active participation in the further development and implementation process of Morocco's climate policy and to raise awareness on the actions needed to meet the submitted targets. Just a few weeks ago, end of May 2015, 18 Moroccan NGOs urged their Government to establish a structured and open participation process to give civil society an active voice in decision that affect their future (see: https://germanwatch.org/de/download/11488.pdf). The Moroccan Competence Centre for Climate Change (4C) of the Ministry of the Environment should address this call by taking the proposals of civil society seriously and increasing the inclusion of national civil society organizations into the country's climate and energy policy-making.