• Embassy of Ethiopia

The Global Climate Change talks in Lima, Peru

A high-level Conference on Global Climate Change (COP 20) opened in Lima on Monday (December 1) in a bid to reach agreement to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions and curb rising global temperatures. The meeting aims to forge the rough draft of a binding treaty that could be finalized next year in Paris as well as look at the progress made at earlier meetings. The Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Convention, Christiana Figueres, said last week: “never before have the risks of climate change been so obvious and the impacts so visible.

Never before have we seen such a desire at all levels of society to take climate action. Never before has society had all the smart policy and technology resources to curb greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience. All of this means we can be confident we will have a productive meeting in Lima, which will lead to an effective outcome in Paris next year.”

In Lima, governments meeting under the “Ad Hoc Work Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action" will define the scope and the type of contributions they will provide to the Paris agreement, along with clarity on how finance, technology and capacity building can be handled. Countries will also put forward their plans to contribute to the 2015 agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the first quarter of 2015, well in advance of the Paris conference in December of next year. In this respect, the Lima conference is expected to provide final clarity on what the INDCs should contain, including suggestions for developing countries which are likely to have a range of options from sector-wide emission curbs to energy intensity goals. As part of the “Lima Action Agenda”, countries will also be deciding how to maintain and accelerate cooperation on climate change by all actors, including decisions arising from the Climate Summit last September where many climate action pledges were made. Ms. Figueres emphasized that: “We have seen an amazing groundswell of momentum building this year. One of the main deliverables of the Lima conference will be ways to build on this momentum and further mobilize action across all levels of society. Society-wide actions, in concert with government contributions to the Paris agreement, are crucial to meet the agreed goal of limiting global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius, and to safeguard this and future generations.”

One area where progress is expected in Lima is accelerating ratification of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol under which countries that are party to the Kyoto Protocol have an opportunity to contribute to ambitious emission reductions before 2020. The Doha amendment to the Kyoto Protocol needs to be ratified before it can enter into force, and the ratification process needs to be accelerated. Clear accounting rules are expected to be adopted in Lima so that the amendment enters into force by the Paris meeting. Another issue is transparency on the action taken by developed countries as the first round of the newly established “multilateral assessment” of developed country action to curb emissions will take place in Lima. Seventeen countries are being assessed. On the issue of Building Resilience to Climate Change, the Conference is expected to agree on how the National Adaptation Plans of developing countries will be funded and turned into reality on the ground. Regarding the financing for climate change, the Lima conference will also work to scale up and coordinate the delivery of climate finance. One focus will be on identifying ways to accelerate finance for adaptation to climate change. The initial capitalization of the Green Climate Find is expected to reach US$ 10 billion by the close of the Conference. Deforestation will also be on the agenda and countries are expected to detail their efforts to provide support to avoid deforestation. Several developing countries are expected to submit information to make it possible for them to obtain funding for forest protection. Providing relevant technology for developing countries and fostering carbon markets are other issues with which the conference will be dealing.

In addition to the progress being towards an agreement in Paris, the political will of countries to provide climate finance is increasingly becoming apparent. At the recent pledging conference held in Berlin, countries made pledges towards the initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund totaling nearly US$ 9.3 billion. Subsequent pledges took this figure to US$ 9.6 billion, so that the US$10 billion milestone is within reach. Ms. Figueres said “this shows that countries are determined to build trust and to provide the finance that developing countries need to move forward towards de-carbonizing their economies and building resilience.” The African Development Bank (AfDB) also launched a 33 million euro (US$41 million) Africa Climate Change Fund at Marrakesh in Morocco, in October. Experts described the initiative as a milestone in the ongoing climate negotiations which will bring some relief to communities affected by climate change and will be particularly relevant to helping Africa boost its agriculture production. The Bank is participating at the talks in Lima, with a focus on its efforts to address climate-resilient and low-carbon development in Africa. The Bank’s involvement is primarily to support efforts to strengthen the continent's voice in the negotiations ahead of any global agreement in Paris next year, to promote climate-smart development in Africa, and to facilitate access to climate finance for African countries. The AfDB said it will continue to play a facilitation role among global players and partners, from decision-makers, to investors and private companies. It said it would provide technical and financial support to the African Group of Negotiators, the body that speaks on behalf of the continent in the negotiations, and also support the efforts to ensure that African concerns are addressed and represented as the Green Climate Fund becomes operational.

A special Africa Day, scheduled to take place on December 10, has been given the title "Africa in a post-2015 new climate change agreement." It will address the key topic of increasing climate finance access for African countries from regional and international global funds, including the private sector. The event will provide a platform to critically examine and highlight what a post-2015 climate change agreement could mean to Africa as a continent. Issues related to ongoing and planned initiatives to support inclusive and green development strategies in Africa as well as their modalities for implementation, including challenges and opportunities will be discussed.

Ethiopia, for example, aspires to achieve middle-income status by 2025 without increasing its net greenhouse gas emissions and while protecting itself and the globe against the negative impacts of climate change. Since its launch in Durban in 2011, Ethiopia has moved quickly to operationalize and implement the Climate Resilient Green Economy (CRGE) strategy. Key achievements include mainstreaming critical CRGE sectors, such as climate change and green growth, into existing development initiatives and investment. Ethiopia is allocating large amounts of domestic finance to implement CRGE initiatives in clean energy, forest conservation and management, rehabilitation of degraded land, climate-smart agriculture, urban development and transport. Currently, it is integrating the CRGE strategy into the second phase of its development plan, the Growth and Transformation Plan II (2015-2020). It has established a national, green climate fund, the CRGE Facility, and the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) has contributed US$26million to the Facility and Austria US$800,000. Further funding commitments have been made by Norway (US$10million) and Denmark (US$4.6million). More contributions are expected in the coming months.

This Facility will support projects in agriculture, water and energy, environment and forests, urban housing, development and construction, transport and industry. Disbursal has begun and the first US$ 2million has been provided for project implementation. A further US$ 19million will be fully disbursed by June 2015. Climate Resilience strategies are also under preparation in agriculture and health and in water, irrigation and energy sectors. These will identify the risks and costs of climate change and prioritize investments at the sector level to reduce climate vulnerability. The Government has established an advisory board for the CRGE Facility which includes representatives from civil society, academia and development partners. Coordination is led by a management committee of the Facility together with sector and regional CRGE focal points established  in all key sectors responsible for CRGE planning and implementation.

Ethiopia has continued to show leadership in other areas of climate change. It was one of the seven countries to commission September’s landmark global report on climate change. The New Climate Economy Report found that it was possible to combine economic growth with reduction of emissions and improved climate resilience. The report provided detailed evidence for its conclusions and offered a ten-point action plan. It concluded that countries at all levels  of income have the opportunity to build lasting economic growth at the same time as reducing the  immense risks of climate change. This is made possible by the structural and technological changes now unfolding in the global economy and by the growing opportunities for greater economic efficiency. The Report says the capital for the necessary investments is available, adding that the potential for innovation is vast. What is needed, it emphasizes, is strong political leadership and credible, consistent policies. The Ethiopian delegation to the conference is led by Minister of Environment Protection and Forestry, Belete Tafese, who will be addressing the conference on Sunday (December 7).