New Initiatives in Energy, Water, Agric Sectors Announced at UN Climate Conference in Bonn


  •  As local, regional leaders sign commitment for faster climate action

Abimbola Akosile

New commitments and initiatives in energy, water and agriculture sectors have been announced at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, under the auspices of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action to help implement the Paris Agreement.

The Marrakech Partnership aims at catalysing greater climate action by public and private stakeholders as the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, calls on countries to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and strive not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In Bonn, new initiatives were announced to push forward the transition to renewable energy and to show that more ambitious clean energy development can quickly become a bigger part of national climate plans submitted under the Paris Agreement, according to a UN release.

“With the price of renewable and storage technologies tumbling, and greater understanding on how to set the policy table for a cleaner energy mix and more integrated energy planning, the question before decision makers is, why wait?” said Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), Rachel Kyte.

Among key announcements, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a new report, Untapped Potential for Climate Action: Renewable Energy in Nationally Determined Contributions, which suggests there is substantial scope for countries to cost-effectively increase renewable energy.

The Climate Group also announced new members to its recently launched EV100 campaign, a major new global electric transport initiative designed to make electric vehicles “the new normal.” And 13 countries with the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced recently the launch of a new multi-year, Euros 30 million plan to support clean energy transitions around the world.

Regarding agriculture, leaders and experts said investing faster and further in agricultural climate action and to support the sustainable livelihoods of small-scale farmers will unlock much greater potential to curb emissions and protect people against climate change.

“Countries now have the opportunity to transform their agricultural sectors to achieve food security for all through sustainable agriculture and strategies that boost resource-use efficiency, conserve and restore biodiversity and natural resources, and combat the impacts of climate change,” said the Assistant-Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), René Castro.
In the livestock sector, for example, FAO estimates that emissions could be readily reduced by about 30 per cent with the adoption of best practices.

FAO released a new Sourcebook on Climate-Smart Agriculture. It recommends scaling up public and private climate finance flows to agriculture; spurring public-private partnerships; strengthening a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder dialogue; investing in knowledge and information; and building capacity to address barriers to implement climate action.

In the water sector, the majority of national climate plans with an adaptation component prioritise action on water, yet financing would need to triple to $295 billion per year to meet such targets, said experts last week.
“Sustainable use of water for multiple purposes must remain a way of life and needs to be at the center of building resilient cities and human settlements and ensuring food security in a climate change context,” said Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, President of the Women for Water Partnership.

The international water community co-signed on November 10 what it called a “nature based solution declaration” to encourage the use of natural systems in managing healthy water supplies.
Around 40 per cent of the world’s population will face water shortages by 2050, accelerating migration and triggering conflict, while some regions could lose up to six per cent of their economic output, unless it is better managed.

“Involving both women and men in decision making and integrated water resources initiatives leads to better sustainability, governance and efficiency”, said Ms. Verhoef-Cohen.
Meanwhile, local and regional leaders from around the world signed the Bonn-Fiji Commitment weekend at their UN Climate Change Conference summit to take further, faster action to deliver the Paris Agreement at all levels of government.

With more than half the global population living in cities and expected to approach two thirds by 2050, the Bonn-Fiji Commitment of Local and Regional Leaders to deliver the Paris Agreement pushes forward efforts to advance sustainable urban development as an integral part of urgent global climate action and the inter-linked goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This is particularly focused around Sustainable Development Goal 11 – to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
The commitment encompasses 19 initiatives, including the European Covenant of Mayors and Compact of Mayors joining forces to create the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy – the largest coalition of over 7,400 cities from six continents and 121 countries to reduce emissions and make societies and economies resilient to climate change.

Cities are responsible for as much as 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels used for energy and transport, and 13 per cent of the global urban population lives in vulnerable low-elevation coastal areas.
As of today, more than 1,000 local and regional governments from 86 countries, representing over 800 million people, have reported emissions reduction targets on the carbon Climate Registry, which, once achieved, would result in a reduction of 5.6 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) by 2020 and 26.8 GtCO2e by 2050.

Additionally, the aggregated impact of cities and local governments under the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM), an initiative served by the registry and two other reporting platforms, could collectively achieve a cumulative total reduction of 15.64 GtCO2e between 2010 and 2030.

Nevertheless, there are still gaps in the regulatory and financial mechanisms needed to scale up sustainable urban development, a UNFCCC release noted.

City governments often have limited control over sectors such as energy, transport and finance, which directly and indirectly affect urban development, while only about a quarter of countries have national urban policies. Additionally, city access to finance has thus far been limited, despite the high demand for low carbon, resilient infrastructure.

The Urban Climate Change research network says an estimated 80 per cent of the costs of adapting to climate change are needed in urban areas. But much of the estimated $80 to 100 billion financing needed per year remains inaccessible to city governments and there is also a lack of bankable local projects reaching investors.