Two weeks ago, EMBARQ, the sustainable transport and urban development program of the World Resources Institute (WRI), and the World Bank co-hosted Transforming Transportation. The two-day event concluded with the announcement of Transport Delivers, a global campaign calling city and national leaders to better integrate sustainable transport into policy discussions on development and climate change. If the campaign’s objectives are fully implemented, they could be a game-changer for today’s cities – as well as tomorrow’s.
This year’s climate negotiations in Warsaw, Poland (COP 19) were a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the summit’s outcomes were dramatically out of step with the level of action needed to solve the climate change problem. A tempting metaphor for the talks was the national stadium in which they were held– one could go around in endless circles in search of the right location.
On the other hand, the Warsaw COP did achieve the incremental outcomes needed to move the process forward. Negotiators put in place a work plan for securing an international climate agreement at COP 21 in Paris in 2015. The COP also made progress on scaling up climate finance and addressing the difficult issue of loss and damage, a process for addressing climate impacts that are difficult or impossible to adapt to. These are small but important steps toward bringing countries out of their repetitive, circular discussions and closer to agreeing collectively on how to address global climate change.
It’s time for businesses and governments to step up to the climate challenge and match words to actions.
This week at the annual international climate talks in Warsaw, companies, policymakers, and civil society participated in an event to deepen business engagement on climate policy. Such interaction could not have come at a more critical time.
Global emissions are on the rise. And last year, climate and extreme weather events alone cost $200 billion.
The world clearly needs to accelerate its response to the climate challenge. Businesses and governments need to work together constructively to raise the level of action and ambition. That means policymakers step up to provide a strong market signal and support, while companies come to the table with clear, public, constructive input.
Coal is emerging as a major topic of conversation at the United Nations climate-change negotiations currently taking place in Warsaw – and rightly so. Indeed, it is a discussion that the world needs to have.
The latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conclude that we are quickly using up our carbon “budget” – the amount of carbon that we can afford to emit while still having a good chance of limiting global warming to 2º Celsius. According to the IPCC, keeping the global temperature increase from pre-industrial levels below this threshold – the recognized tipping point beyond which climate change is likely to get seriously out of control – requires that the world emit only about 1,000 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC). More than half of this amount was already emitted by 2011. Unless we shift away from carbon-intensive behavior, the remaining budget will run out in roughly three decades.
As the UN climate meetings (COP 19) in Warsaw, Poland get down to serious business in their second week, the world beyond the negotiations looms large – both with challenges and with promise. It’s an important reminder of the stakes inside the negotiating venue.
Inside the negotiating rooms, things kicked into a higher gear yesterday. The co-chairs put forward a negotiating text laying out the key issues for establishing a new climate action agreement in 2015 (under the Durban Platform). Over the next several days, negotiators will grapple with four key issues.
While many people are traveling to Warsaw this week to participate in the international climate negotiations (COP 19), the city is also hosting another global conference: the International Coal and Climate Summit. It’s a troubling juxtaposition—coal contributes to 43 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it a major driver of climate change. In fact, a new statement released by leading scientists suggests that nearly three-quarters of fossil fuel reserves—especially coal—must remain unused if the world is to limit temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. In other words, limiting sea level rise, extreme weather events, heat waves, and other climate impacts requires staying within world’s “carbon budget”—which doesn’t include unabated coal use.
Strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change’s impacts will be costly, so success at COP 19 hinges on making progress on climate finance. It’s important that negotiators pursue three actions: scaling up adaptation finance; developing pathways to secure $100 billion in climate finance by 2020; and moving the Green Climate Fund forward.
One of the biggest successes from 2009’s COP 15 conference was securing funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. Donor nations agreed to “provide new and additional resources […] approaching $30 billion for the period 2010–2012, with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation.” They also committed to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020.
But the agreement left a key question unresolved: how should funding be “balanced” between adaptation and mitigation? Should the funding balance be 50/50 between adaptation and mitigation or should it based on each country’s needs? Should funding include both private and public sector investment? These are some of the questions that negotiators will need to address during COP 19 in Warsaw.
But whatever they decide as being a “balanced commitment,” one thing is clear: finance for adaptation needs to increase in the coming years.
In order to understand where the climate finance agenda is likely to go, it is first necessary to grasp where it stands today. To that end, Overseas Development Institute, WRI, and IGES – in partnership with the Open Climate Network – have conducted the first in-depth examination of Fast Start Finance (FSF), the period from 2010-2012 in which developed nations pledged to deliver US$ 30 billion in climate finance. As of September 2013, countries reported providing $35 billion in public FSF from 2010 through 2012, exceeding their pledge. Just five countries – Germany, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States— provided US$ 27 billion of this finance.
After winning Germany’s federal elections on September 22nd, Chancellor Angela Merkel is in the middle of difficult coalition talks to form a new government. Because Merkel’s party, the Christian Democrats, did not win an absolute majority in parliament, it must find a new coalition partner. The party has begun negotiations with Social Democrats to form a grand coalition.
Importantly, the decisions coming out of these negotiations could have significant implications for clean energy development. The "renewable energy club" recently initiated by the German government could provide a...