Photo: A view of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Copyright: BMUB | Thomas Trutschel - Photo: 2016

New Partnership to Implement Paris Climate Change Agreement

By Jutta Wolf

BERLIN (IDN) – Many developing countries have made their first ever commitment to complying with climate targets with the adoption of the Paris Agreement endorsed in December 2015. A new partnership – initiated jointly by the German Ministry for the Environment and that for Economic Cooperation and Development together with the World Resources Institute (WRI) – now aims to help them transform these targets into specific strategies and measures.

The initiative aims at supporting developing countries in specifying and implementing their nationally determined contributions and help them unify existing climate and development goals with a view to achieving greater harmonisation of various donor programmes. The partnership will be officially launched at the Marrakesh climate conference (COP22) in November.

Introducing the partnership at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue (PCD) on July 4-5 in Berlin, German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said: “In Paris we all pledged to stop dangerous climate change. We now have to achieve the targets we have set ourselves and to breathe life into the Paris Agreement. We are ready to support developing countries in tackling this challenge and to share our experience with them. This should also give our partner countries new opportunities for development. I believe that this initiative will send an important political signal at the next Marrakesh climate conference.”

German Development Minister Gerd Müller added: “Climate change is driving millions of people out of drought-stricken regions in Africa and coastal regions in Asia. We will only be able to achieve a world without hunger and poverty if we all join forces to drive forward effective climate action. This is a key challenge for the international community in the 21st century and the prerequisite for peace, and for equitable and fair globalisation”.

The partnership will encompass both developing and donor countries, institutional partners and non-governmental organisations. Membership in the partnership is open to all countries. To support its set-up, the German Ministries for the Environment and for Economic Cooperation and Development will finance the establishment of a secretariat in Washington and Bonn. Additionally, the climate action projects of both ministries will focus to an even greater extent on implementing the nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement.

A key task of the implementation partnership will be to organise quick access to tailor-made advice for developing countries. The partnership will draw on the know-how and work of numerous organisations, initiatives and platforms.

There will also be a contact point for developing countries with specific climate-related questions – for example on developing the use of renewable energies, sustainable urban development and climate-resilient agriculture to name but a few. The partnership also aims to ensure that the various donors in different countries work hand in hand in implementing the Paris Agreement.

Closing the seventh annual Petersberg Climate Dialogue, Environment Minister Hendricks said: “The Petersberg Climate Dialogue has highlighted once again that Germany is in good company with its ambitious climate policy. Following the success of Paris, we are now entering the implementation phase. Governments across the globe are undertaking measures to combat climate change. We can learn a great deal from each other and in doing so lend even greater momentum to international climate action.”

High Level Champion for COP 22, Minister El Haite said: “All over the world, we are seeing more and more concrete and tangible evidence of our renewed commitment to act, hand in hand, for our global sustainable development. We are building the foundation of a new world, where solidarity and trust are rehabilitated. As COP 22 presidency, we see that the challenge for all of us is to cultivate this solidarity and to sustain the trust. COP 22 will be the COP of action, implementation and support.”

There was consensus at the talks that the climate targets laid down in Paris must be implemented as quickly as possible in concrete policies. Many countries are already drawing up strategies for climate action up to 2050 with great enthusiasm.

The Petersberg Climate Dialogue, in which representatives of 35 countries participated, also focussed on exploiting synergies to step up implementation of the Paris Agreement. “Eradicating poverty and combating climate change can only work if they are addressed together,” said Hendricks. “That is why we need an approach that links climate action and conventional development cooperation more closely.”

Participants in the Climate Dialogue also stressed the need to inject further impetus by shifting global finance flows to be consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development, one of the goals of the Paris Agreement.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría warned that “if there are policies in place that make fossil fuels attractive at the expense of clean alternatives, we are tying one if not both hands behind our backs”. He stressed the need for “a swift withdrawal of policies that prop up fossil fuels and carbon-intensive activities and the strengthening of policies that put a positive price on greenhouse gas emissions”.

Gurria introduced the OECD report on Aligning Policies for a Low-Carbon Economy, designed to help governments identify the misalignments that stand in the way of a low-carbon future. The report points out that many governments openly continue to support fossil fuels.

OECD Fossil Fuels Inventory puts the spotlight on almost 800 spending programmes and tax breaks. For 34 OECD members and Key Partners, the total support is estimated at $160-200 billion a year over the period 2010-2014.

“One of the low-hanging fruits is to get rid of these subsidies which are not only bad for the climate; they are also bad for equality as they benefit the rich in a disproportionate manner! That’s the reason why the OECD is chairing the G20 Peer Reviews for the Reduction of Fossil Fuels Subsidies for the US, China, Germany and Mexico,” Gurria said.

According to the OECD report, coal is still the least heavily taxed of all fossil fuels. Yet, it is the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel and results in significant local pollution. Meanwhile, a 10 to 20% import tariff is levied on renewable energy technology crossing borders.

“This creates an unequal playing field biased against innovation in low-carbon alternatives. No wonder that fossil fuels account for roughly 80% of the global energy supply,” the OECD Secretary-General said. He urged policymakers to create an enabling environment conducive to the flourishing of green technology and renewable energy sources. [IDN-InDepthNews – 8 July 2016]

Photo: A view of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. Copyright: BMUB | Thomas Trutschel

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

2016 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

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