Noting that the Paris Agreement is not an end in itself but a framework for “us to work together and act to honor our shared future,” Nizar Baraka, President of the Scientific Committee, on behalf of the COP 22 President, noted the need for a clear long-term plan, concrete actions and programmes, and timelines for these in order to ensure an equitable transition to low-carbon development.
Tomas Anker Christensen, on behalf of the President of the UN General Assembly, noted that the sustainable transition to low-carbon economies and economic diversification will be vital to implementing the Paris Agreement, drawing attention to the need to find a balance between the challenges and opportunities presented by the transition in order to get the mix right for individual countries.
Welcoming the “durable, flexible and credible” Paris Agreement, David Nabarro, speaking on behalf of the UN Secretary-General, stressed the need to move away from fossils fuels and towards low emission development, calling for national and regional policy decisions to take into account the commitments contained in the Paris Agreement.
Tomasz Chruszczow, Chair, Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), moderated a discussion session. Andrei Marcu summarized a background paper, which notes that, while some countries are advanced in transformative economic pathways, others will require assistance, and highlights the need for buy-in from stakeholders working on climate change and sustainable development. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), said that even before the Paris Agreement his country had policies in place to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, adding that: climate action is being mainstreamed into all sectors; the government is working with the private sector to achieve green growth; and there is a need to turn NDCs into investment instruments.
A representative of the European Commission noted that the EU has decades of experience in green technology innovations, stressing the importance of the low-carbon transition and noting that there is no conflict between economic growth and environmental protection. He highlighted an EU decision to spend 20% of its budget on climate action. Hafez Ghanem, World Bank, outlined the World Bank’s commitment to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including through: increasing financing by a third; increasing adaptation support; supporting adaptation and mitigation policies; crowding in private sector finance; and supporting collective action in the region.
Frank Rijsberman, Head, Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI), described the work of the institute, including on assisting countries in developing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and on building in-country capacity to develop bankable projects.
Stressing that “you fail if you don’t act when you are faced with change,” Norway highlighted that his country is moving to green competitiveness, and noted that there is no silver bullet to save the climate and thus it needs to be mainstreamed.
Underlining that the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities will inform approaches to economic diversification, South Africa noted that the socio-economic challenges of implementing response measures must be minimized, and that the Forum on Response Measures should conduct assessments on the effects of response measures on third parties, particularly developing countries.
Noting that a just transition of the workforce will require appropriate training in order to contribute to the growth of a low carbon economy, the Maldives noted the need for legislative, economic and social changes in order to achieve the Paris Agreement, stressing that some countries will need assistance to implement the Agreement, and underscoring the involvement of all stakeholders to drive ownership, which will in turn drive implementation.
Noting that “there are as many paths as there are parties,” Poland shared his country’s path of economic growth decoupled from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Singapore said his country has moved away from being a labor-based economy and has diversified into a knowledge-based economy. He stated that energy efficiency will continue to be key, noting that the country is working on floating solar PV. He stressed that mitigation actions should not undermine trade. He noted that response measures need to take into account the special situation of certain states, and reiterated his commitment to meeting the mandate on response measures.
In the roundtable discussion, Solway Group stressed the need to seek convergence on domestic carbon policy measures, and called for the development of global regulatory measures in order to achieve specific goals. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) noted that the member countries are impacted by both climate change and response measures to address climate change, highlighting the need to move from rhetoric to implementation and noting that the obligations and commitments under the UNFCCC lie with developed countries. Ghana noted that experiences shared speak to the fact that countries can diversify, and noted the importance of an understanding of what transitioning to low-carbon economies means for third parties. Ecuador stated that the country has reached 90% renewable energy in ten years, and noted the need to ensure financial support for transitioning to low-carbon economies. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) noted that to have an equitable transition, and stressed that there must be investment in diversification plans to ensure that workers are not left behind. The World Business Council on Sustainable Development noted the COP 22 Low-Emissions Solutions Conference demonstrates that the world has moved into the implementation phase.
Sarah Baashan, Co-Chair, Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA), stressed that the global narrative on low-carbon growth has changed because the domestic narratives are dynamic, and various countries are able to share their experiences with transitioning to low-carbon development.
In the closing session, Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources, Saudi Arabia, noted that the Paris Agreement is legally binding, and called for innovative, win-win solutions in diversification that are accessible and beneficial to all. He stressed the need for innovative partnerships to address the challenges posed by diversification, including the loss of jobs.
Jonathan Pershing, US, noted that the UNFCCC is a platform to exchange ideas, set goals and norms and evaluate the adequacy of the responses; and underscored that although there will be constraints in the transition process, there is ongoing work through bodies like the World Bank that shows that this is possible.
Closing the meeting, Baraka called for participatory processes, balancing the pillars of sustainable development, and people as the center of the development agenda.