Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Climate Change November 21, 2016 - 8:30 am

UN talks end with vow to take “urgent” action on climate change

Concern over Trump's potential policies underlies COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Maatalii Okalik, the president of the National Inuit Youth Council, speaks Nov. 16 to the COP22 High Level Plenary session, with Canada's federal environment and climate change minister Catherin McKenna to her right. (PHOTOO COURTESY OF THE GOV. OF CANADA)
Maatalii Okalik, the president of the National Inuit Youth Council, speaks Nov. 16 to the COP22 High Level Plenary session, with Canada's federal environment and climate change minister Catherin McKenna to her right. (PHOTOO COURTESY OF THE GOV. OF CANADA)

There’s an “urgent duty to respond” to climate change: that was the message as global climate change talks wrapped up late Nov. 18 in Marrakech, Morocco.

“Our climate is warming at an alarming and unprecedented rate,” said the Marrakech Action Proclamation, issued at the end of COP22, the 22nd gathering of the 197 countries which have signed onto the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

This statement comes when Arctic sea ice extent dropped, instead of grew, for three days last week, reaching new daily lows for November—and temperatures stayed more than 20 C higher than normal over the central Arctic Ocean area.

The talks in Morocco, which started Nov. 7, also took place against the background of growing concern about whether United States president-elect Donald Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax,” will honour commitments to keep the world’s temperatures from rising.

Countries in Marrakech said they want to accelerate global climate action and fast-track the aims of the 2015 Paris agreement, which include efforts to keep the global temperature increase at 1.5 C.

Governments also agreed on a deadline of 2018 to complete the “rule book” or operational manual for the Paris agreement, which, under outgoing President Barrack Obama, the U.S. has supported.

COP22 also took steps towards incorporating Indigenous climate concerns through the creation of an Indigenous “platform,” although this does not specifically respond to demands listed by the Inuit Circumpolar Council Nov. 14.

“This marks a new era of addressing the concerns and needs of Indigenous peoples in the climate process. Once operational, the platform will allow for an exchange of experiences and sharing of best practices on mitigation and adaptation and ultimately lead to more climate actions,” said the UN in a Nov. 18 news release as this year’s gathering in Morocco wrapped up.

The talks included statements by various countries, including Canada, which saw the federal environment and climate change minister, Catherine McKenna, share the podium with Maatalii Okalik, president of the National Inuit Youth Council, Nov. 16 at COP22’s high level plenary session.

“With your continued leadership that will define our future on climate action, I am hopeful that it is done in cooperation with Indigenous peoples, in platforms, and with respect to our rights, which ultimately support Indigenous self-determination. Let’s do this together: our collective future depends on it,” Okalik said.

On Nov. 18, Canada also hosted a panel highlighting the leadership and actions of Indigenous peoples to combat and adapt to climate change in Canada.

Panelists included Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, with panel discussions also involving Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council, the Treaty 7 Blood Tribe and the NIYC.

“The Government of Canada will continue to respect, promote, and consider the rights of Indigenous peoples when taking action to address climate change. Indigenous peoples are not just on the forefront of climate-change impacts, but also climate-change solutions,” McKenna said in a government release.

COP22, hosted by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, saw almost 500 heads of state or government, and ministers attend.

They also agreed to multi-billion and multi-million dollar packages of support for clean technologies, while businesses, investors, cities and local governments made new climate change commitments.

And several countries—Canada, Germany, Mexico and the U.S.—announced their climate strategies to 2050.

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