This event launched a discussion paper that discusses Africa’s development in light of potential asset stranding, in the hopes of alerting African governments to the need for effective natural resource planning towards low carbon economies. The paper highlights the associated risks of stranding and impacts on mineral-rich countries in Africa, as well as the opportunities that lie in green transitions and economic diversification.
Youba Sokona, IPCC Vice-Chair, facilitated the session, noting that the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15) indicates that limiting global warming has co-benefits for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and underlined key messages of SR15, including: every bit of warming matters; every year matters; and every choice matters. Noting that socio-economic development and environmental concerns are at odds in Africa, he pointed to the clear political will to control emissions.
Fatima Denton, Director, UNU-INRA, introduced the report on Africa’s Development in the Age of Stranded Assets, noting that it alerts policy makers about an issue that has geopolitical and strategic importance and that will be essential for national planning now and in the future. Defining stranded assets as those that have become devalued or that countries are unable to monetize due to policy changes, disruptive innovation and/or social and environmental conditions, she highlighted the need to discuss the consequences for developing these “un-burnable” assets from a continent whose total emissions are less than 4% of the global total. Noting that Africa’s resources have been stranded since colonialism, Denton highlighted the report as a trigger for African governments to design the economies they want. On the issue of a just transition, she underscored that the continent will need to address the level of exposure to carbon market risk, burden sharing, and knowledge management to ensure more efficient and effective resource use.
Describing how some countries could make the energy transition, Bruk Tekie, UNU-INRA, pointed to land diversification to expand agriculture in Angola, and mineral planning in South Africa, which could push the country to the fore of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), pointing to the fact that Africa holds 42 of the 63 elements needed for the 4IR.
Sokona then moderated the panel discussion. Jame Murombedzi, UNECA, emphasized that the relationship between production and exploitation of Africa’s resources is not determined by policies, but is historically linked to external interests including debt. Africa’s ability to disinvest in carbon, he concluded, is linked to its ability to pay off its debt.
Rose Mwebaza, Director, CTCN, highlighted that nationally determined contribution (NDC) targets of countries with high fossil fuel resources recognize the need to pursue other carbon pathways. She reported increasing requests to the CTCN for technological support for transitioning to low carbon economies.
Selam Kidane Abebe, Legal Advisor, African Group of Negotiators, reported on risks identified by the group, including: legal risks due to commitments to treaties; social risks attributed to job losses that would result from decarbonization; and economic risks due to the large scale of carbon related foreign direct investment in Africa.
Daria Ivleva, Adelphi, said stranded assets represent a double burden on countries through losses of revenue and decreased economic growth. She noted that fossil fuels are the fabric of many economies, driven by global market demands, and emphasized the need for exist strategies towards a low carbon transition.
In the ensuing discussion, panelists and participants considered, inter alia: the need to channel the benefits of resource exploitation to local communities; Africa’s place in the transition to renewable energy; the choices of sovereign states in their development pathways; engaging states in the just transition; foreign direct investments linked to fossil fuel exploitation in Africa; and the positive unintended consequences of stranded assets including a decrease in illicit financial flows. They also discussed, among others: the legal, economic and social implications of an energy transition, given countries’ contractual obligations to private fossil fuel companies; a managed fossil-fuel exit; future fossil fuel discoveries and risks associated with extraction in a 2°C world; the need for a managed, staggered transition for the continent; intergenerational discussions to ensure a just transition; and the need for more thoughtful, long-term national planning choices for development pathways.
This event launched The Production Gap: 2019 Report, which was produced by SEI, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the Overseas Development Institute, CICERO, Climate Analytics, and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Emily Yehle, SEI, moderated the event. Presenting the report, Michael Lazarus, US Center Director, SEI, noted that the production gap is due to the discrepancy between countries’ planned fossil fuel production and global production levels consistent with the Paris temperature limits.
Alysha Bagasra, Climate Change Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand, discussed her country’s Zero Carbon Act, aimed at achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. She reported that New Zealand is now utilizing 84% renewable energy, with plans to reach 100% by 2035.
Felipe De León, Advisor, Climate Change Directorate, Ministry of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, described his country’s decarbonization plan, including a moratorium on new oil and gas exploration, and discussed legislative measures to strengthen the plan.
Underscoring the importance of the report, Joie Warnock, Unifor trade union, Canada, stressed that workers coined the term “just transition,” but have experienced the consequences of many unjust transitions. She called for a head-on confrontation of the underlying issues preventing just transitions, including increased privatization.
Niklas Hagelberg, Coordinator, Climate Change Programme, UNEP, pointing to UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report, called for policy coherence between fossil fuel production and policy making around climate change. He stressed that governments must consider both reports to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Luis Alfonso de Alba, Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, highlighted the concerns of the Office of the UN Secretary-General, noting the Secretary-General’s focus on identifying ways to increase pressure on G-20 countries to cut their emissions, and supporting least developed countries and small island developing states in their decarbonization plans.
During the discussion, participants and panelists considered: the need to mobilize financing for renewable technology subsidies; coherence in financing to ensure it is consistent with climate resilient development pathways; the role of private sector in reducing investment in fossil fuels; and providing enabling conditions for developing countries to transition while maintaining development trajectories.
This event focused on ways in which the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process can be leveraged for meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement, highlighting some developing country experiences.
Anne Hammill, Senior Director Resilience Programme, IISD, moderated the event. She presented the NAP Global Network, aimed at enhancing national adaptation planning and action in developing countries. The NAP process, she said, is a strategic process that enables countries to identify and address their medium and long-term priorities for adapting to climate change. She noted opportunities to leverage NAPs for updating and enhancing the adaptation component of nationally determined contributions (NDCs), developing an adaptation communication under Article 7 of the Paris Agreement, and adaptation sections of Biennial Transparency Reports (BTRs).
Amb. Spencer Thomas, Special Envoy for MEAs, Grenada, said his country’s National Climate Change Policy provides guidance for implementation of NDCs and NAPs. He noted that while Grenada’s NDC is mitigation-centric, there is a clear vision on adaptation in agriculture, waste, energy, and water resources.
Julie Teng, UNDP, presented information from a 2019 publication with the World Resources Institute (WRI), “Enhancing NDCs,” which is a guide to strengthening national climate plans. Outlining steps for enhancing the adaptation component of NDCs, she noted the need to, inter alia: analyze links with other processes; determine relationships to enhance the adaptation communication; and identify and integrate elements for inclusion in NDCs.
Lovakanto Ravelomanana, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Madagascar, reported that her country’s mitigation strategy aims to reduce emissions by 14% by 2020. She highlighted her country’s National Policy on Climate Change, which promotes strategies to reduce climate change vulnerability. She outlined national consultations held in 22 regions to consolidate views on the NAP, including areas of vulnerability and challenges.
Navina Sanchez, Climate Change Policy Adviser, GIZ, underscored the need for linkages between the adaptation communication and the BTR, and highlighted GIZ’s support for developing countries for adaptation reporting.
Pam Pearson, Director, ICCI, moderated the event. Andrés Couve, Minister of Science, Technology, Knowledge and Innovation, Chile, lauded the COP Presidency for setting up the Cryosphere Pavilion, which focuses attention on Arctic and Antarctic research, underscored the need to improve knowledge on these areas, and stressed the importance of these regions as the sensors of climate change.
Peter Eriksson, Minister for International Development Cooperation, Sweden, lamented the alarming findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere, noting his country’s commitment to accelerate work on reducing ocean pollution and increasing climate ambition.
Ko Barrett, IPCC Vice-Chair, reiterated that small temperature changes have large impacts on the cryosphere, which is at risk of permanent damage in a 2°C warming scenario, but noted that pathways to lower emissions exist.
Underscoring the need to strive to keep temperature rise below 1.5°C, Pearson highlighted, among others: that with a 1°C increase, the world will lose all tropical glaciers, with mid-latitude glaciers being mostly lost in a 2°C world.
Jerónimo López-Martínez, President, Spanish SCAR Committee, and Marcelo Leppe, Director, Chilean Antarctic Institute, underlined that sea level rise is the clearest consequence of anthropogenic climate change, with warming of 2°C set to generate a 10-meter sea level rise, which will affect all ecosystems.
Amb. Brigitte Collet, France, lauded the work of the IPCC and the ICCI, noting that we are all affected by changes to the cryosphere and urging policymakers to draw lessons from scientific reports for better decision making and planning.
Veronika Veits, Director, Oceans and Fisheries, Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission, said that science and citizen’s awareness are the drivers of policy change and reiterated the European Union’s commitment to cryosphere research.
Bill Hare, CEO, Climate Analytics, stressed the need for governments to address fossil fuel-dependent energy sectors, pointing to the decrease in prices of renewable energy technologies, which present opportunities for governments to transition to low carbon economies.
Robert Comeau, Representative from Inuit Communities, stressed that global warming of 1.5°C has a human face, pointing to the increasing uncertainty within Inuit communities due to rising temperatures and sea levels.