Cli­mate ac­tion af­ter Paris

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

At the United Na­tions cli­mate con­fer­ence in Paris, coura­geous and vi­sion­ary lead­ers recog­nised that peo­ple rarely change the world when they work within the con­straints of what they think is pos­si­ble. The world hoped for an agree­ment, but most of us did not dare to dream of a deal that as­pires to limit tem­per­a­tures to 1.5 de­grees Cel­sius above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els. Paris de­liv­ered for the planet and for the poor. Five im­por­tant steps must come next. First, we need to ap­proach de­vel­op­ment dif­fer­ently. Cli­mate change must be con­sid­ered in all of our work – from build­ing cleaner cities to pro­duc­ing more food on less land – with a much stronger fo­cus on adapt­ing to chang­ing cli­mate pat­terns. This means that when we build a road in a coun­try like Mozam­bique, we are also en­sur­ing that it is re­silient to the floods that ac­com­pany in­ces­sant rains. To this end, the World Bank un­veiled a new cli­mate ac­tion plan in Paris to help Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa in the years ahead.

Sec­ond, we need a clean-en­ergy trans­for­ma­tion at the speed and scale of the dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion. The Paris talks sent a clear sig­nal to mar­kets, pub­lic of­fi­cials, and in­vestors that low-car­bon growth is the fu­ture. Mar­ket forces will drive this agenda for­ward, and there will be greater po­ten­tial to in­vest in re­new­able en­ergy in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries than ever be­fore. Dra­matic de­creases in the cost of low-car­bon tech­nolo­gies also sup­port an am­bi­tious global tran­si­tion to­ward re­new­able en­ergy.

One ex­am­ple is Bangladesh’s in­no­va­tions in in­creas­ing the sale of so­lar-power sys­tems for homes in ru­ral ar­eas. Our low-cost fi­nanc­ing helped to at­tract tremen­dous in­ter­est from the pri­vate sec­tor, and to­day Bangladesh has the fastest-grow­ing so­larhome pro­gramme in the world. More than 18.5 mil­lion peo­ple in ru­ral ar­eas now have re­li­able ac­cess to so­lar-pow­ered elec­tric­ity.

Third, busi­nesses must im­me­di­ately be­come cli­mate lit­er­ate. In Paris, CEOs from var­i­ous in­dus­tries – rang­ing from ce­ment to tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies – made clear pledges to de­crease car­bon foot­prints, in­vest in renewables, and man­age re­sources sus­tain­ably. This tran­si­tion will re­quire more part­ner­ships across all lev­els of gov­ern­ment, civil so­ci­ety, and the pri­vate sec­tor.

Fourth, world lead­ers must push harder for car­bon pric­ing. Car­bon diox­ide emis­sions from the burn­ing of fos­sil fu­els carry a hefty price. It’s a bill that comes to all of us in the form of pub­lic-health costs, dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment, and ad­verse weather ef­fects. While about 40 coun­tries and 23 cities, states, and re­gions are us­ing a car­bon price, this cov­ers only 12% of an­nual green­house­gas emis­sions. More than 90 de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries in­cluded car­bon­pric­ing schemes among the ac­tions they in­tend to take af­ter the Paris deal. This is a wel­come step.

Fi­nally, fi­nance will be crit­i­cal. Na­tional cli­mate ac­tion plans – sub­mit­ted by more than 180 coun­tries – iden­tify tril­lions of dol­lars of cli­mate-re­lated needs. This global eco­nomic tran­si­tion holds tremen­dous in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for the pri­vate sec­tor. The risks of car­bon are high, but the op­por­tu­ni­ties to de-car­bonize are even greater. For our part, we re­cently pledged to in­crease the World Bank Group’s cli­mate fi­nanc­ing to as much as $29 bln an­nu­ally by 2020.

Ev­ery coun­try will take a dif­fer­ent path to de­liver on its com­mit­ments. Na­tional lead­ers must honor the timetable for adap­ta­tion and emis­sions re­duc­tions. We are here to sup­port them. We have plans that fo­cus on cli­mates­mart agri­cul­ture, build­ing greener cities, in­creas­ing ac­cess to re­new­able en­ergy, im­prov­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, and lev­er­ag­ing our fi­nance for greater pri­vate in­vest­ment. All are de­signed to lower green­house-gas emis­sions and help peo­ple adapt to the world’s chang­ing cli­mate.

The con­fer­ence in Paris pro­duced an agree­ment that went be­yond our expectations. We must now move with am­bi­tion that matches this his­toric deal – one sup­ported by nearly 200 coun­tries. We are at a re­mark­able mo­ment in the long bat­tle to re­duce harm­ful emis­sions, and we must cap­i­tal­ize on this global com­mit­ment to pre­serve our planet for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

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