Tuesday, January 05, 2010

UNEP Ongoing Climate Strategy & COP 15 Day-By-Day Analysis

Dec 30: The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced it is formulating a rapidly evolving strategy in response to the needs of Member States and the growing number of requests on how best to realize a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy for the 21st century. The strategy identifies three priority areas that match calls for international guidance, the urgent need for action at a national level on climate change and the organization's skill set, experience and mandate.

UNEP said it is now widely recognized that healthy ecosystems from coral reefs and wetlands to mangroves and fertile soils are a key to successfully adapting to climate change. Their management and maintenance is a buffer and an insurance policy against extreme weather events and a rapidly changing climate. In light of such emerging evidence, UNEP is supporting Member States to implement demonstration projects and said it is ready to support Member States in gearing up their economies to overcome policy and financial barriers and to incorporate ecosystem adaptation measures into national climate, development and sectoral strategies.

Secondly, UNEP indicates that emissions linked with deforestation and forest degradation may account for close to 20 per cent of current global greenhouse gas emissions. Against this backdrop, UNEP is part of the international effort to prepare developing economies for a REDD regime [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries]. Through the UN-REDD Programme, a partnership between UNEP, the Food and Agricultural Organization and UNEP, nine countries are being made ready for REDD. The Programme is supporting those countries through appropriate methodologies, monitoring and verification systems and safeguards in order to ensure REDD delivers value not only in climate and national economic terms but in terms of livelihoods for local communities. REDD should soon allow farmers and landowners to benefit from carbon sequestration of different farming and land management regimes including agroforestry.

Thirdly, UNEP notes that although many low-carbon technologies are already commercially viable, transferring them to new markets and mainstreaming their use globally remains a challenge. To bridge the gap, UNEP and its collaborative partners are already delivering clean tech via smart market mechanisms. In India, for example, UNEP in collaboration with the United Nations Foundation, the Shell Foundation and Indian banks have brought down the cost of solar technology loans. Within a matter of a few years, 100,000 people have accessed solar electricity in rural areas and the initiative is now self-financing. UNEP has launched an effort to help more than 35 countries determine the specific low greenhouse gas technologies best able to meet their development needs and prepare national plans to acquire and use those technologies.

UNEP also said that in terms of catalyzing a set of global norms and standards, it is currently working in four sectors: energy efficiency in building, vehicle fuel efficiency, efficient lighting, and biofuels. UNEP said that in partnership with others it is ready to support Member States in gearing up their economies to incorporate clean tech and renewable energies into national climate, development and sectoral strategies on the road to a low-carbon future.

Finally, the Paris-based IDDRI research organization has issued an informative day-by-day, play-by-play summary of the Copenhagen UNFCCC COP 15 meeting [See WIMS
12/21/09 & 12/18/09] entitled, The Copenhagen Accord: What happened? Is it a good deal? Who wins and who loses? What is next? In and overview, IDDRI indicates, "The two weeks of negotiations in Copenhagen (7-18 December 2009) have been full of twists and turns. The outcome of the first phase, when heads of delegations and Ministers had the leadership, is a set of draft decisions, heavily bracketed, and not recognized by all Parties – especially the US – as a basis for negotiations. It proves the difficulty – if not the impossibility – of making progress towards an agreement through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol (KP) process. The lack of clarity of the Bali Roadmap – setting a two-track process, one under the UNFCCC and one under the KP, but leaving open the form and legal nature of the final outcome – and the lack of skill of the Danish Presidency, did not help.

"The outcome of the second phase, when a small group – around 30 – heads of State took the lead, is a minimalist agreement, disappointing in substance, and hectic in process. It proves that the pileup of countries redlines did not leave room for an ambitious agreement: the agreement found is somehow the lowest common denominator. This is not the deal we hoped, but given the context, and especially given the perception that States had of their own national interests, this was probably the best possible deal."

On December 21, in a United Nations announcement from New York, UN General Assembly President Ali Treki said while most countries are not happy with the outcome of this month's summit on climate change in Copenhagen, "really good progress" was made towards a binding agreement "to save the world," with the United Nations leading the way to possible adoption at next year's meeting in Mexico. He said, "There are complaints that some countries have not been dealt with carefully, other countries believe it was not democratic, other groups believe that the matter has been out of the hand of the UN and they would like also that UN would take over this problem again. But I think we should be realistic that what happened there, it is really something positive. I think that the conclusion of a certain agreement was really good progress and we have to follow that up. We all agree that the United Nations should take the lead and we'll continue to take the lead and we will have certainly the summit of Mexico. We'll finish what we have started in Copenhagen."

Following the Copenhagen summit’s end, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made calls to leaders from countries such as China, the United States, Ethiopia, the Maldives, Grenada, France, Brazil and Australia. He told reporters in NYC on December 30, While I am satisfied that we sealed a deal, I am aware that the outcome of the Copenhagen conference, including the Copenhagen Accord, did not go as far as many have hoped.” He said, "I urge countries to ensure that the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund becomes fully operational as soon as possible. I urge all governments to formally sign on to the Copenhagen Accord by registering their support through the UNFCCC. The faster we have all the signatures, the more momentum we can build. . . During the coming months I will continue my work with world leaders to increase their level of ambition."

Access a lengthy release from UNEP with links to extensive information (
click here). Access the 10-page IDDRI document (click here). Access the IDDRI website for additional information (click here). Access a release on the December 21 press briefing in NYC (click here). Access the December 30 press briefing of the UN Secretary-General (click here).