16 November 2016
As Morocco's King Mohammed VI joined UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa yesterday to welcome dignitaries to Bab Ighli – a modest tent city created in Marrakesh to host the COP22 UN climate talks – the tone was firmly one of collective effort to sustain the 'Spirit of Paris', regardless of who is poised to move into the White House next January.
While Obama has confirmed he won't attend COP22, John Kerry is expected to show. His colleagues at the US State Department are also out in strength seeking to drive or participate in various dialogues focused on how to unlock investment for climate adaptation, mitigation and low-carbon development pathways for emerging and developing economies.
Discussion at various side events has covered everything from financial instruments for energy utility companies to the blending of private sector investment with carbon market mechanisms, the private financing of adaptation, and the need for technical and legal guidance on climate-related lending within developing economies.
So while it's true that the conversation in the corridors is still substantially about when, rather than whether, Trump will move to reinforce any one or more of the climate-hostile pledges he made on the campaign trail, the broader mood in Marrakesh is one of determined effort to deprive the President-elect of the practical ability to derail the Paris Agreement.
Playing their part, IIGCC members, IIGCC staff and institutional investors from the US continue to stress that addressing climate risk is critical for sustainable economic growth, and that technology and demand dynamics will continue to move in favour of a low-carbon transition.
One immediate, if somewhat ironic, impact of the US election result was to make the IIGCC-sponsored side event (one of only 10 business-led official UNFCCC COP22 side events taking place inside the negotiators' 'zone' at COP22, which IIGCC put on with the other investor networks) not just more topical but also very well attended.
This week, as ministers join the so-called 'high-level segment' of the two week summit, IIGCC will argue vocally for the importance of public- and private-sector collaboration to support finance flows that will help to drive the low-carbon transition – including investment in clean energy, green infrastructure and climate resilience.
Bringing long-term institutional capital – the majority of which resides in OECD countries – into developing and emerging economies is essential for climate-resilient development as most climate mitigation investment will be into capital-intensive, long-term infrastructure.
IIGCC issued a paper on climate finance in September 2015 (http://www.iigcc.org/files/publication-files/IIGCC_2015_Climate_Finance_v25_WEB.pdf) that discusses how governments and international financial institutions could work to scale up the potential availability of institutional capital to implement the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) that form the backbone of the Paris Agreement.
This week, Donald MacDonald, IIGCC's chair, will represent the investor voice in a key discussion about "scaling up climate finance and widening the field" that takes place during the High-level Ministerial Dialogue on Climate Finance today (16 November). This event is intended to help ministers agree a clear vision on how to mobilise, deploy and utilise substantial climate finance (upwards of $100 billion per year by 2020 and well beyond).
Outputs from this dialogue will go forward for formal consideration at COP23 in 2017. So the messages that investors, and indeed all 'non-state participants', convey to this gathering have the potential to be particularly influential.
Stephanie Pfeifer is CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, a European forum for 128 investors with more than €13 trillion of assets