COP22: National processes should come first

By Angelo Kairos T. Dela Cruz

Editor’s note: The author is the Associate for Climate Policy of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities. This is the second part of series from Kairos’s dispatches from Marrakesh, Morocco, where he is participating in his first major UN climate conference.

I felt I’ve already had my fair share of hearing the word “gap” during my first week here in the UN climate negotiations.

Personally, I think the biggest “gap” that everyone is guilty of, to some extent, is translating international agreements to national policies. Neglecting the reality that Conferences of Parties (COPs) can only do so much only exacerbates the problem.

We need to get our act together domestically. We cannot hold other countries accountable without assessing our own country’s liabilities. For example, we should not say it is our God-given right to develop by building more coal plants when renewable options are viable and cheaper. We cannot just ask for more funding if we are always underspending, or if we do not first improve our national transparency and accountability systems. (Read: Emerging problem in monitoring ‘Yolanda’ aid)

We can only take the moral high ground if our national processes and policies reflect the positions that our negotiators are aggressively pushing for in the COP.

Fast forward to today – the last day of the UN climate negotiations here in Marrakesh – I have slowly come to realize that agreeing to join a two-week trip is not easy. My wife and daughter understand why I have to be here, but they don’t like it nonetheless. If my six-month-old could speak, he’ll most probably say “don’t go” with a gummy smile.

This two long weeks in COP22 also means two long weeks away from everything else, including the work that I left in Manila. The world just doesn’t stop from revolving to wait for the COP’s outcomes. The Philippines has always been in the spotlight of the talks in the past few years because it has almost always been hit by a typhoon during, or just before, the conference. Good and bad things happen all the time, and thinking that the COP is an isolated event is a mistake. External events, such as the aftermath of the U.S. elections, should send a message of urgency to the countries to come up with good decisions, such as how to take the next steps after the Paris Agreement has entered into force.