UN calls for Asia-Pacific countries to scale up action to meet Paris Accord goals
Countries from Asia and Pacific, Europe met on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference to explore opportunities for scaling up climate action
Bonn: The Asia-Pacific economies account for more than 50 percent of global emissions. And if the nations maintain discharges as usual, rising seas could affect 1.4 billion people by 2060, climate experts said on Friday. For this, the countries need to scale up regional action to meet global goals.
Countries from Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East met on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn to explore opportunities for scaling up climate action to meet the ambitious targets set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The high-level participants recognised the need to boost climate action across the region if the aim of staying within two degrees Celsius of temperature increase is to be attained.
While many countries in the Asia-Pacific have ambitious climate plans, collective efforts under Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are not nearly enough to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
It has been estimated that humanity is left with a 'carbon credit' of between 150 and 1,050 GtCO2 to meet the Paris target.
However, at the current emission rate of 41 GtC02 per year, the lower limit of this range would be crossed in four years, and the midpoint of 600 GtCO2 would be passed in 15 years.
"In the Asia-Pacific region, population growth, environmental degradation and climate change could be a major challenge for the countries in the area. This is the negative future scenario. We have detailed these substantial risks in a major report for the Asian Development Bank just recently," Founder and Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber said in his keynote speech.
He said there is a positive scenario too.
"Asia-Pacific could be at the forefront of human ingenuity to achieve change. This could really make the region a worldwide innovation leader," he added.
At Friday's event organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap), United Nations under Secretary General and Excap Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar said vulnerable countries have a critical stake in ensuring that global emissions trajectories are corrected downward.
Many countries in the region are showing leadership in putting into place policies and measures to mitigate emissions and to strengthen resilience.
Carbon markets and their increased linkages across national boundaries can play a critical role to achieve these climate ambitions at least-cost.
"NDCs show countries are willing to raise their ambition, but need more financial, technological and capacity-building support," Akhtar said.
"We can strengthen regional cooperation in carbon pricing to further exploit cost savings. And we will step up our efforts with the financial sector to ease countries' barriers to access to finance and risk-transfer measures," he noted.
Sun Zhen, Deputy Director General (Climate Change Affairs) at China's National Development and Reform Commission, said: "China is strongly committed to cope with climate change and to meet our greenhouse gas control commitments."
"Our experience shows that if we make the right political decisions and trust the potential of low carbon development, our policies should not limit economic growth. Rather they will create opportunities for sustainable, climate friendly and green growth," Sun said.
Participants also highlighted the key role of the UN regional commissions in supporting implementation of the NDCs, especially through their regional convening platforms where they bring together all stakeholders to leverage regional cooperation and promote learning.
India is ranked 14th in this year's Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) out of 56 nations and the European Union by environmental organisation Germanwatch, a position improved from last year's 20th for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by opting electricity sector transformation towards green technology.
China with its high emissions and a growing energy use over the past five years still ranks 41st.
The report, Climate Change Performance Index 2018, was made public this week at the UN Climate Change negotiations.
Fifty-six countries and the EU are together responsible for about 90 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the report, global energy transition is taking up speed but no country is doing enough. For this, the countries have to strengthen targets and implementation.
We have only started to understand the effects of greenhouse gases began in the 1820s with French scientist Joseph Fourier.
There was enough of melted water "to cover Florida with two inches (five cm) of water".
India is the third biggest carbon emitter after China and the US; during the G20, India said developed countries should lead the way in reducing emissions.