Asia-Pa­cific could lead low-car­bon fu­ture

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA -

This summer has seen Asia and the Pa­cific rocked by in­tense and un­sta­ble weather, bring­ing into even greater fo­cus the need to build re­silience against cli­mate change and ex­treme weather.

Tem­per­a­tures in the western In­dian state of Ra­jasthan reached record lev­els in­May, peak­ing at a scorch­ing 51 C. In vast parts of the Pa­cific, and South and South­east Asia, rain­fall came late, or not at all, and rivers ran dry, wells dried up and lakes turned into dusty plains. Then sud­denly, this drought turned to floods, af­fect­ing large ar­eas of Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, In­dia, Nepal and Pak­istan.

As one of the world’s most cli­mate vul­ner­a­ble re­gions and a grow­ing emit­ter of green­house gases in its own right, ac­count­ing for about 40 per­cent of the to­tal, Asia and the Pa­cific has a lead­ing role to play in tack­ling cli­mate change. But to achieve this Asia and the Pa­cific must ful­fill three es­sen­tial con­sid­er­a­tions.

First, coun­tries must now de­liver on the prom­ises agreed on at last year’s Paris cli­mate con­fer­ence. Their In­tended Na­tion­ally De­ter­mined Con­tri­bu­tions must be turned into solid cli­mate in­vest­ment plans that pro­mote in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies to ad­vance re­new­able en­ergy and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, and sus­tain­able ur­ban de­vel­op­ment.

But INDCs go be­yond pro­mot­ing low-car­bon growth. Many coun­tries have ar­tic­u­lated their adap­ta­tion needs, in­clud­ing more re­silient in­fra­struc­ture and cli­mate-smart agri­cul­ture. They will need sup­port from de­vel­op­ment part­ners to build re­silience to fu­ture cli­mate im­pacts.

Sec­ond, coun­tries must firmly cou­ple cli­mate ac­tion with pol­icy and struc­tural re­forms. A good ex­am­ple of such re­forms is China’s on­go­ing struc­tural trans­for­ma­tion from en­ergy-in­ten­sive man­u­fac­tur­ing to ser­vices, which will re­duce China’s industrial and man­u­fac­tur­ing over­ca­pac­ity and help it to peak its car­bon diox­ide emis­sions by 2030. And In­dia has launched an am­bi­tious so­lar en­ergy ini­tia­tive, in­clud­ing plans to build up 100 gi­gawatts in so­lar power gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity by 2022. Such re­forms will help coun­tries build the eco­nomic foun­da­tions for low-car­bon growth.

Third, coun­tries need ro­bust fi­nanc­ing streams. To­ward this end, the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank will dou­ble its cli­mate fi­nanc­ing to $6 bil­lion by 2020. Since pub­lic fi­nance will be able to sup­ply only a frac­tion of the funds needed by coun­tries, it is im­por­tant that pat­terns of in­vest­ment— prin­ci­pally in the pri­vate sec­tor— shift and scale up ac­cord­ingly. The ADB re­cently raised $1.3 bil­lion us­ing green bonds to help fi­nance cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion and adap­ta­tion projects. It has also backed the first cer­ti­fied cli­mate bond in Asia, is­sued by a pri­vate com­pany ear­lier this year for a geo­ther­mal project in the Philip­pines.

The Global Green Growth In­sti­tute is help­ing coun­tries mo­bi­lize the re­sources needed to im­ple­ment green growth poli­cies and de­liver cli­mate-friendly re­sults. In 2015, GGGI’s in-coun­try work in Colom­bia, Ethiopia, In­dia and

In­done­sia helped mo­bi­lize in­vest­ments worth $131 mil­lion.

But in­ter­na­tional sup­port should not end with fi­nance. Coun­tries also need help im­ple­ment­ing INDCs so that these fi­nan­cial re­sources can be used ef­fec­tively and trans­par­ently. Build­ing up ca­pac­ity to iden­tify and bud­get for cli­mate in­vest­ments and to roll out cli­mates­mart reg­u­la­tory poli­cies will be just as cru­cial as the fi­nance it­self. In this re­spect, cli­mate change ac­tions must be viewed as in­te­gral to the wider pur­suit of poverty re­duc­tion and con­trib­ute to the achieve­ment of the UN Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals.

The chal­lenges are for­mi­da­ble, but the ur­gency of cli­mate change re­quires strong po­lit­i­cal will and even more con­certed in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion. With broad par­tic­i­pa­tion by gov­ern­ments, the pri­vate sec­tor, de­vel­op­ment part­ners such as the ADB and GGGI, civil so­ci­ety, and other stake­hold­ers, Asia and the Pa­cific could spear­head a new low-car­bon and cli­mate re­silient fu­ture for the global good.

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