I love the UN, and I love everything about sustainable development,
it’s a pleasure for me to read about what’s happening in the world,
sharing bits that inspire.
If we act on climate change now, the economic prize will be immense
By Felipe Calderón
Felipe Calderón is former President of Mexico and Honorary Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
Climate negotiators are meeting in Bonn. Beyond the intricacies of the negotiations, here is one key thing to remember instead: about $1tn (1 000 000 000 000) is already being invested in climate solutions, ranging from renewables and energy efficiency to public transport.
To put it simply: for those that act on climate now, the size of the economic prize will be immense. What is especially exciting is not just the unprecedented coming together of almost every single country in the world around the Paris Agreement, it is that others –cities, states, regions and businesses– are all stepping up to the challenge ahead.
Acting on climate can certainly be driven by pure pragmatism: the economics of it are clear. However, I believe that when 195 countries held hands in Paris and committed to beat climate change together, it also went beyond self-interest. We did it because the poorest and most vulnerable among us don’t deserve to lose their lives and livelihoods to an increasingly hostile environment. We did it because we know that a more sustainable, prosperous and inclusive future is within our grasp. And we did it because leaving the world safer and healthier for our children’s children is simply the right thing to do. (1)
Countries in the world by population, top 10:
China, India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, Mexico (2)
Bonn Climate Conference Becomes Launch-Pad for Higher Ambition
Backed by a wide range of positive announcements from governments, cities, states, regions, companies and civil society, delegates from over 190 countries agreed to a 12-month engagement focusing on ‘Where are we, where do we want to go and how do we get there?’
“But Bonn 2017 did more than that – it underlined that support for the Paris Agreement is strong and that the journey upon which the world has embarked is an unstoppable movement supported by all sectors of society, across all parts of the globe.”
Outcomes and Highlights of the 2017 UN Climate Conference
Historic Breakthrough in Agriculture – there was an historic political breakthrough in respect to agriculture that may lead to a faster and more coordinated response by nations to address a sector that is the second biggest emitter after energy.
Launch of the Ocean Pathway Partnership – It aims, by 2020, to strengthen action and funding that links climate change action with healthy oceans including through the UN Climate Change process and via more explicit aims and ambitions in national climate action plans.
America’s Pledge brings together private and public sector leaders to ensure the US remains a global leader in reducing emissions and delivers the country’s climate goals under the Paris Agreement.
Powering Past Coal Alliance brings together 25 countries, states and regions to accelerate the rapid phase-out of coal and support affected workers and communities to make the transition. (3)
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, who has been among the most vocal critics of Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the Paris deal, got the loudest applause when he committed France and European partners to filling the funding gap for the UN’s climate science panel, left by the US withdrawal. “They will not miss a single euro.” (4)
UN Climate Change News, Bonn, Nov 17
The common message from all sides at this conference has been that action to get on track towards the objectives of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and to ultimately achieve the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development Goals is urgent, time is really running out and everyone simply must do much better together to drive climate action further and faster ahead now.
Financing Climate Action
Major announcements included funds to support the poorest and most vulnerable, whose plight has been brought into sharp perspective by this year’s extreme weather
InsuResilience Initiative additional USD 125 mln from Germany to support provision of insurance to 400 more million poor and vulnerable people by 2020. A G20 and V20 (vulnerable nations) partnership. (5)
Finance ministers from 20 of the countries most vulnerable to climate change launched the “V20” group to marshal resources for their nations’ fight against the impact of global warming.
The group, which includes some of the world’s smallest and poorest countries, is a counterpoint to the G20 group of leading industrialised and emerging economies.
The V20’s members are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, East Timor, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, the Maldives, Nepal, the Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam. (6)
In 2016, Oslo airport became the first airport in the world, to supply sustainable aviation fuel to all airlines refuelling at our airport. So, we have taken some camelina oil from an EU project, and we’ve also actually imported biofuels from California, based on used cooking oils, waste products. The carbon footprint of that fuel is very favorable compared to dirty fossil fuels. (7)
Located on the Paraná River, in November, Itaipu (a Brazilian-Paraguayan hydroelectric plant) hit 2.5 billion Megawatts-hour (MWh) of energy generated since it began in May 1984. With this, Itaipu reaffirmed its position as the power plant that generates most electricity on the planet.
Supplying 17% of Brazilian consumption and 78% of Paraguay’s, Itaipu makes an important contribution to the participation of renewable sources in the energy network of both countries. In Brazil, renewable energy accounts for more than 66% of electricity generation and in Paraguay, it is almost 100%. (8)
“The whole economy is going green in the next one or two decades”
“Harnessing private capital for green finance and clean energy projects is essential to ensuring the inevitable move away from fossil fuels,” says Fiona Reynolds, Managing Director of the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), whose more than 1,700 members manage or own over USD 73 trillion in assets.
“There is no lack of funds” (9)
Rising and warming seas are contributing to the intensity of tropical storms worldwide. We will continue to live with the abnormal and often unforeseen consequences of existing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, for many, many years to come.
Restoring the ecological balance between emissions and the natural absorptive capacity of the planet is the long-term goal. It is critical to remember that the long-term reduction of emissions is THE most important risk reduction tactic we have, and we must deliver on that ambition. (10)
Africa’s impala-like leap into a green industrial economy
By Carlos Lopes
Carlos Lopes is a professor at the University of Cape Town and a member of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate.
Africa faces many economic challenges – but, within them, lie significant opportunities. One is for the continent to leapfrog over the polluting, resource-intensive stage of industrialisation, and transform directly into a low-carbon, climate resilient economy that will deliver jobs and help lift people out of poverty.
Avoiding the well-worn path of industrialisation that runs through decades of increasing, but inefficient, use of energy and water resources, is undoubtedly attractive. But how does an entire continent pull off such an agile manoeuvre? As with all big ideas, it will take a vision and a plan. The good news is that many African leaders share this vision and determination – and that there is a way to realise it.
First, Africa needs to shift from a low-productivity agricultural economy, to a high-productivity manufacturing one. This is a lofty goal that, in no small part, relies on the removal of barriers to investment, but the rewards are potentially great. Across Africa, manufacturing employment remains low: most of our people are working in agriculture. A robust manufacturing economy – in which new technologies are not only built but invented in Africa – would open up global markets and create millions more jobs, particularly for low and semi-skilled workers, youth, and women. These will be needed, since more than 450 million new workers are expected to enter the African labour market by 2035.
Second, we need economic growth that protects Africa’s natural environment, and the Earth’s global commons, in ways that increase the welfare of today’s and tomorrow’s citizens, and create new opportunities for development. Without green growth, Africa – already expected to be the region worst affected by climate change – will be even more vulnerable to its impacts.
In practice, that means more efficient use of water and energy, the adoption of cleaner technologies, and governments fostering new paths for structural transformation.
Green technology is progressing and its costs are falling every day. Global green markets are growing at a breathtaking pace, trading everything from wind turbines to organic fertilisers. In 2016, the world invested $241.6bn in renewable energy, double the amount in fossil fuel investment. “Industries without smokestacks”, such as ecotourism and remote IT support, are burgeoning – bringing the economic advantages of manufacturing without the environmental costs.
Africa has vast clean energy resources that can take a lead in the global renewable energy market. It has some of the best biomass, geothermal, hydropower wind and solar resources in the world and we have only just scratched the surface of our full potential. (11)