David meets Goliath: First ever V20 – G20 meeting highlights the mutual benefits of climate action

David meets Goliath: First ever V20 – G20 meeting highlights the mutual benefits of climate action

By Gerrit Hansen, Germanwatch, April 2017

The climate vulnerable forum (CVF), now uniting 49 of the world’s countries most vulnerable to climate change, has again taken centre-stage in the fight against global warming and for an equitable international climate regime. At the recent IMF and World Bank spring meeting in Washington, the finance ministers of the group, the Vulnerable 20 (V20), met with representatives of its “big brother”, the G20, to discuss issues related to climate finance, effective mitigation policies, support for adaptation and resilience and above all: enhanced cooperation.

After their vital role in negotiating the landmark Paris climate agreement, and anchoring the 1.5 degree temperature goal the group has repeatedly positioned itself as a global leader in innovation and ambition – despite their limited economic prowess. In their Marrakesh Communique launched 2016 during COP22, the CVF pledged to transition to 100% renewable energy provision as soon as possible, and by mid-century at the latest. A report commissioned by the CVF and UNDP underscores that the quest to stay below 1.5°C global warming represents an opportunity to leap-frog into better, healthier, more stable and independent renewable economies.

The V20 brought that spirit to the table in Washington: urging the worlds’ most powerful economies to follow suit and embrace the opportunity offered by the modernization and greening of their economies. The V20 Ministerial Communique adopted at the 4th Ministerial Dialogue later that day states: “Insufficient resources from climate protection will only create economic instability. Investing in climate action, by contrast, is critical to inclusive development, job security and economic growth. This is an opportunity not just for the V20 economies but for the developed economies as well.”

The V20 called on G20 countries to deliver ambitious climate change action as part of the G20 outcome in July. “For vulnerable countries, the 1.5C limit is a matter of survival. It requires immediate and swift action by the global community, and above all, the major industrial powers,” said H.E. Macaya Hayes, Ambassador of Costa Rica to the USA. “We set our sights towards 2018, the trigger year when all countries, especially the major industrial powers, need to commit to enhance their climate ambition before the end of the decade.”

During the meeting, speakers from Marshall Islands, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and Barbados urged G20 countries to deliver their long-term low-emissions development strategies before 2020, and join the V20 in leading towards universal coverage of emission through carbon pricing by 2025. A particular emphasis was put on the need to end fossil fuel subsidies. The V20 recognized the need to be rigorously checked whether fossil fuel consumption subsidies provide an actual benefit to the poor, and subsequently design their replacement worldwide without harm to those relying on them for their basic energy needs. However, the group is much stricter when calling for the end of market distorting fossil fuel production subsidies. The latter should be removed immediately and no later than 2020, and the G20 should adopt a clear timeframe for fossil fuel subsidy elimination – which the G20 fails to deliver since 2009.

However the V20 did not only appeal to the major emitters. In keeping with their frontrunner-tradition, the V20 announced it would pioneer innovation in climate finance to help secure continued economic development among its members while tackling the costly economic impacts of climate change. They decided to establish a Task Force of independent experts to assess the financial requirements for climate action consistent with the Paris Agreement, with a view of delivering maximal resilience and a low carbon development consistent with 1.5 degrees Celsius. They also resolved to establish a technical committee to develop multi-country financing initiatives towards the advancement the V20 Action Plan and its aim of attaining a significant increase in climate investment in V20 countries.

While the G20 finance ministers remained strangely silent on the matter, the V20 welcomed the recommendations from the Financial Stability Board Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, highlighting that the compatibility with the 1.5 degrees limit should be integral part of what these disclosures should assess. V20 pledged its collaboration in the effective implementation of those recommendations, and in further study of the development policy implications of green finance and risk instruments. While reiterating the criticality of the $100 billion commitment and the need to significantly upscale concessional financial means via Multilateral Development Banks for achieving transformational change in line with the Paris Agreement the V20 also stressed the need to increase prioritization of adaptation finance to ensure a 50:50 balance of finance for adaptation and mitigation by 2020, calling for continued scaling up of financial support in a balanced manner.

The value of the V20-G20 dialogue that has now been initiated was clearly recognized by G20 and V20 representatives present at the meeting. It can become an important engagement tool that highlights how climate action is mutually beneficial to different economies. As a next step, this partnership ought to be pursued and deepened with common goals. The V20 Communique concludes that “it is time to act strategically to advance truly transformational programs that redesign nothing less than the investment agenda of the world economy.”

Read more at:Germanwatch : David meets Goliath: First ever V20 – G20 meeting highlights the mutual benefits of climate action

Trump won’t deter us on climate change

Trump won’t deter us on climate change

By H.E. Gemedo Dalle, Senator Loren Legarda and H.E. Edgar Gutierrez

Even the recent outcome of the US elections cannot stop those of us dedicated to battling climate change.

No country has said it will walk away from global action. To the contrary, countries including China, members of the European Union, Japan and Saudi Arabia have all reconfirmed their commitment to implement the Paris Agreement. Others, such as Australia, Pakistan and Italy, have even joined the agreement in the days since the US elections. French President Francois Hollande and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have called on President-elect Trump to drop his campaign pledge to cancel the Paris Agreement; Ban called the Paris Agreement “unstoppable.”
Together they send a resounding message: The countries of the world will forge on. Those that do will be better off by skipping all the downsides of a 19th century development model characterized by the burning of fossil fuels to achieve economic growth, while cashing in on more jobs, more growth and a higher quality of work and life.
Climate change poses an existential threat to vulnerable countries around the world. Inaction in the face of worsening climate shocks risks moving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals beyond our reach. Tackling climate change, on the other hand, presents opportunities. The case for highly ambitious efforts on climate change is now so compelling that addressing global warming is no longer about burden sharing on emission cuts. It is now about securing the most benefits by taking action.
When the world came together to produce the Paris Agreement in December 2015, all nations agreed to limit warming to well below 2 degrees. In that pact, now already in force, we committed to pursue efforts to ensure temperatures would even be half a degree lower at just 1.5 degrees, only just above the warming we have experienced to date.
Half a degree Celsius — it doesn’t sound like much, but it is a number that could transform the face of the world as we know it.
At the first global talks after the Paris Agreement, held in Marrakech, Morocco, this month, we are presenting new research from the United Nations Development Program, and science and policy institute Climate Analytics, as commissioned by the more than 40 member countries of our Climate Vulnerable Forum. The report, the Low Carbon Monitor, demonstrates with great clarity just how much of a difference half a degree can make.
If we pass 1.5, new weather extremes will gravely imperil countries like the Maldives and the Marshall Islands as well as large, populated low-lying territories in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Egypt, with sure-fire submergence under rising seas. Going beyond 1.5 degrees of warming means the virtual disappearance of the world’s coral reefs within the lifetime of most people alive today. It would also increase heatwave spells for multiple regions by an entire month yearly and raise risks of crop yield losses for key breadbasket areas of Africa and Central America by 10-15% in the coming decades.
Keeping warming down also does more than reduce risk; its benefits can save lives. Greenhouse gas emission controls will help tackle the problem of air pollution, which already causes more deaths than alcohol or tobacco. The need to curb emissions also motivates expansion of renewable energy. Current policies would still leave over 1 billion people without electricity by 2030. In fact, to achieve universal access to energy 14 years from now, 60% of new energy must come outside of traditional grids. The logistical and infrastructure advantages of renewable energy are plain for all to see.
The required action to keep us below 1.5 is just too ambitious, some say. Well, Costa Rica has gone more than 200 days in the past year with 100% of its energy production derived from renewable sources.
In fact, it is possible that keeping warming below 1.5 degrees might spur greater economic growth. According to the new estimates released in the report, it could raise global economic output by $12 trillion by 2050 in particular because countries would avoid so many of the devastating impacts associated with higher levels of warming. The benefits of tackling climate change can also be passed on to workers. Producing energy from coal or oil creates the least possible jobs, whereas sustainable biomass or renewable hydro-energy have among the highest employment contributions. Ambitious climate policies could thereby double global energy jobs come 2050.
For all to have access to these benefits, the least developed, low- and middle-income developing countries like Ethiopia, Costa Rica or the Philippines still require partnerships with more advanced countries, investors and industrial pioneers to access new clean energy technologies, to bridge investment shortfalls when they leave the polluting carbon path, and to develop skills and know-how that remain the domain of large and advanced economies.
Renewable energy costs are already substantially lower than just a few years ago. Already they are competing at cost with carbon-intensive energy in a low-price oil market still distorted by hundreds of billions of dollars of fossil fuel subsidies. According to the Low Carbon Monitor report, if all embrace low emissions development, renewable energy could be five times cheaper or more by 2050, a vision of a low-cost energy future we believe everyone wants and deserves.
Limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius can and must be done. We will make it happen not just to survive, but also to thrive.
The article was jointly authored by Gemedo Dalle (Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in Ethiopia), Senator Loren Legarda (Chair of the Philippine Senate’s Permanent Committee on Climate Change), and Edgar Gutierrez (Minister of Environment and Energy in Costa Rica).
Read more at: CNN: Trump won’t deter us on climate change

1.5 to stay alive: UN’s warming goal feels the heat

1.5 to stay alive: UN’s warming goal feels the heat

Climate Home
By Saleemul Huq

One of the most hotly contested and far reaching outcomes of the Paris Agreement agreed last December was the inclusion of the long term warming limit of 1.5C above pre industrial levels. Going into that summit on the 30 November 2015 there were only around a hundred of the most vulnerable countries from small island states, Least Developed Countries (LDC) and Africa Groups who supported the inclusion of the goal.

None of the developed countries and also none of the larger developing countries such as China or India supported the inclusion.

Over the following twelve days, by effective diplomacy of the vulnerable countries groups, the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) under the leadership of the Philippines and the High Ambition Coalition led by Marshall Islands and USA along with strong support from civil society groups every single country was persuaded to include it in the agreement.

That was a great victory for the vulnerable countries in terms of global diplomacy and advocacy. However, now comes the hard part of implementing that agreement.

There are many voices challenging the possibility of keeping below 1.5C given that we are already above 1C from pre-industrial levels.

The next battle will now take place in the scientific community to determine the feasibility of keeping below 1.5C.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) , at the request of the UNFCCC, has agreed to prepare a Special Report on 1.5C to be published in 2018 in time to inform the Global Stock Take that year.

The initial scoping meeting for that Special Report was held in Geneva last month and the outline for the report was developed for approval by the IPCC Plenary meeting in October in Bangkok.

In order for the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C to have sufficient peer reviewed scientific literature for an effective assessment it is important for the scientific community , both natural as well as social sciences , to carry out relevant research and publish in time for the IPCC to cite their articles.

The conference on 1.5C: Meeting the Challenge of the Paris Agreement held in Oxford this week has brought together natural and social scientists from around the world to highlight this need to generate scientific evidence on the potential to actually reach the 1.5C target.

We know it is still possible to limit warming to safe levels – that is abundantly clear from presentations at this week’s event.

But the bottom line on whether or not the world is able to keep below the 1.5C level depends on political will from the leaders of governments to take necessary actions but even more on the willingness of the ordinary people in every country to push their leaders to do the right things.

Even though keeping global temperature below 1.5C may be extremely difficult, it still remains possible if the needed actions are taken by leaders and supported by people around the world.

Humanity will have to show whether we are up to the challenge.

Saleemul Huq is director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University of Bangladesh and Chair of the CVF Expert Advisory Group.

Read More at: Climate Home: 1.5 to stay alive: UN’s warming goal feels the heat

It’s time to shift to disaster preparedness

Reacting after crises just won’t work anymore as we face more of them

Thomson Reuters Foundation

By Helen Clark, Cesar V. Purisima and Stephen O’Brien

Leaders are gathering this week for the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. The Summit presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take meaningful actions to better address current humanitarian needs and reduce them in the long term.

Over the past 20 years, a significant portion of those needs have stemmed from the impact of typhoons, floods, droughts, earthquakes and other natural hazards that have claimed 1.35 million lives and affected on average 218 million people per year, mostly in developing countries. Beyond the lives lost, the devastating impact of disasters on socio-economic development has surpassed $1.3 trillion since 2005. Add to this the impact of conflict and other crises, and the world faces unprecedented humanitarian needs, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Second World War.

In this context, two things have a critical role in our ability to better handle the surge in humanitarian emergencies.

The first is whether governments, civil society and international institutions have the courage to heed what experience tells us and reform how we approach humanitarian crises.

Reform entails a fundamental shift from a seemingly constant state of reactivity to emergencies. Our actions must be designed to reduce and be better prepared for risks. Underlying factors that trigger the next disasters are often well recognized by countries and the international community. In most cases we know precisely how they can be addressed.

Simply put, we can no longer afford not to invest heavily in prevention and preparedness. Between 1991 and 2010, less than 0.5 per cent of the approximately 100 billion dollars of annual Official Development Assistance (ODA) has been spent on disaster risk reduction. Only a fraction of this has gone to preparedness. And yet, the potential and the consequences of failure are profound.

These sums compare to over $25 billion spent annually on disaster response and to the trillions of dollars of disaster losses. When every dollar spent on prevention and preparedness is known to save countless lives, not making that necessary investment is a violation of our collective responsibility.

The second and even more profound concern is the gathering climate emergency. 2015 broke records to become the hottest year on record and all signs point to 2016 being even hotter. Science now indicates that some 90 per cent of disasters are somehow climate-related. Last week, the World Meteorological Organisation showed we are perilously inching close to the 1.5 degrees limit beyond which the most catastrophic impacts are all but sealed.

That means more Yolandas, more Katrinas, and more Pams, year after year. On a less dramatic scale, it also means many more localized weather extremes that draw less attention but constantly wear down the resilience of vulnerable communities, disrupt development progress, and are an additional source of volatility.

The simple arithmetic of our response to climate change doesn’t add up either. Current emission commitments have us headed for several degrees of global warming with humanitarian implications that would be frightening to fathom.

To be clear, it is not just the many millions directly affected by drought, floods or storms that we need to protect – climate change is also a recognised driver of one of the biggest crises facing the world right now – displacement and migration. The influence of climate shocks on food production, prices and food security, as well as access to water, are also serious threats for stability and security in our world.

Climate impacts join the already toppling pile of highly complex stress factors faced by fragile states and vulnerable countries around the world. This recognition should set off alarm bells, spurring in all of us a call to do things better and differently.

That’s why the finance ministers of vulnerable countries led by the Philippines through the Vulnerable Twenty (V20) Group have agreed to form a new ‘Global Preparedness Partnership’ with the United Nations and the World Bank. The partnership ultimately seeks to make sure all vulnerable countries achieve a minimum level of readiness for future shocks. It should spur a fundamental shift in our response and place the emphasis on acting, not reacting. First on the to-do list will be to support 20 countries by 2020.

This effort has to go hand in hand with making the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change a reality. That means triggering a transformation of economies to cap warming to not more than 1.5 degrees and meeting goals on resilience and financing to adapt to the changes already taking hold. Not doing so will render our best efforts to contain humanitarian emergencies increasingly futile. We’d also face all the security challenges and erosion of development gains that come with such a failure.

Meeting in Istanbul, the world’s leaders should be asked what they will do concretely to shift the course of humanitarian crises. They should ask what they can do to support people on the frontline – both those in communities and those sent to help them. They do not have to search around in the darkness for the answer. Building on our experience and the instruments at our disposal, let us act with greater urgency and truly shift to preventative efforts with the courage – and sense – to break from the past.

Helen Clark is administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and former Prime Minister of New Zealand; Cesar V. Purisima, is Secretary of Finance for the Philippines and chair of the Vulnerable 20 Group of Finance Ministers; and Stephen O’Brien is United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Photo Caption: A woman visits the grave of a family member at a mass grave for Typhoon Haiyan victims on All Saints Day in Tacloban city in central Philippines November 1, 2015, and ahead of the second anniversary of the devastating typhoon that killed more than 6,000 people in central Philippines. Photo Credit: REUTERS/Erik De Castro

The heat is on for workers

The heat is on for workers


By Emmanuel de Guzman

Sometimes the most dangerous things are the ones that creep up on you, rather than come all in one cataclysmic moment. So it is with heat stress on workers. A new report – released on International Workers’ Memorial Day has named heat stress as the biggest social and economic impact of climate change.
Why? Well, the rise in temperatures means that people – particularly those outside – can work fewer hours. During the times they do work, their health can be damaged. That means health costs go up, productivity is cut, and workers take home less pay – all of this causes the worst kind of ripple through the economic pond of mostly vulnerable countries.
Heat stress has already wiped several percentage points off the GDP of nations such as Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Vietnam and it is set to get worse. The cost of lost productivity globally due to warmer temperatures is anticipated to rise to more than USD2 trillion a year by 2030.
And of course the impact is worse in vulnerable, developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America – and on the lowest paid workers in those countries, such as those in the agricultural sector, where much of the work is still done outside.
Despite this, the impact of heat stress has largely been ignored. The economic costs of heat stress are not considered in climate models, national climate policies do not touch on it. This has, in part, to do with how complex it it is to integrate occupational health and safety science with climate change modeling and economic analysis.
But signing the Paris Agreement has shown the willingness of countries to come together and tackle these complex problems. The kicker that heat stress alone will mean 10% of working hours are lost – resulting in losses to GDP for economies like India, Indonesia and Nigeria of the same magnitude – should be enough of an incentive for us to tackle it. Certainly, it should make countries rethink how inexpensive climate action to keep warming to a minimum will be.
That’s why the organisations behind this report – and the vulnerable country governments in the CVF – will take its recommendations to the International Labour Conference in June, the leading global forum for employment policy. This should be the beginning of the whole world waking up to the enormity of the market failure of climate change that these news findings reveal. It’s in every country’s interest to bring this situation under control. Major economic losses to emerging economies will worsen the global economic outlook and curtail prosperity for everyone – wealthy investors that rely on market growth from developing countries chief among them. Not doing so also means accepting that more than a billion workers and their families, in total four billion people, are highly exposed to severe health dangers, pressures on income, food security and much more due to fast escalating heat.
This is a problem that’s too big to ignore. Fortunately, in the Paris Agreement, we have the tools to address the concern. Having adopted and signed it countries now need to demonstrate their fidelity to it, such as through steps by all parties to increase the ambition of their planned contributions to reduce emissions by 2020, if not earlier. Equally vital will be living up to commitments by ensuring steady progress towards $100 billion in additional finance for developing countries by 2020, half of which was agreed to support dealing with issues like workplace heat especially in vulnerable countries.