October 24, 2011
Global Business Leaders Push for More Action on Climate Change
In a statement released early last week, a group of the world’s largest investors, representing over $20 trillion in assets worldwide stressed the urgent need for policies that would stimulate private sector investment, create jobs and ensure the long-term sustainability of the global economy. The statement was coordinated by the US-based Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), the European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) and the Investors Group on Climate Change (IGCC) in Australia and New Zealand. The statement was made as governments prepare for two meetings- the G20 in Cannes, France and the 17th UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP 17) on Climate Change in Durban , South Africa; both of which will be held in November. Private sector engagement is key to sourcing the $100 billion in long-term finance committed by developed nations in 2009, at COP 15 in Copenhagen, to help the most vulnerable countries contend with the effects of climate change. With the current global economic malaise, it is encouraging to see this call coming from the private sector and indicates its readiness to take part in moving the world towards a low-carbon economy.
This past week also saw two countries announce their plans to enact domestic-level actions enabling them to meet their own emissions reduction commitments. Last Monday, Australia’s House of Representatives passed an emissions trading scheme known as the Clean Energy Future Package. Australia is hopeful that it will pass through Senate as well. South Africa, which will host the Durban climate talks this November,, announced its own plans to place caps on carbon emissions for its top polluters . The caps are expected to be set up within the next two years according to a Reuters report last Wednesday. These encouraging developments in Australia and South Africa represent international steps being taken to lowering global GHG emissions.
All this is welcome news particularly after a report released last week by the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicated that the world’s dependence on fossil fuels for economic development continues to grow. Fossil fuel emissions by developing countries increased by 3.3% in 2009 while those from developed countries fell 6.5% due to the economic recession. The report also examined early indications that in 2010, developed country emissions from fossil fuel consumption were likely to have rebounded to 2008 levels. In addition, the share of global emissions by developing countries increased to more than half of total global emissions, largely due to an increase in the use of coal to satisfy growing national level demands for energy.
The UNFCCC Transitional Committee meeting on the Green Climate Fund (GCF) ended on Wednesday last week. This was its final meeting before the Durban climate talks to complete its work on the overall design of the GCF. The Committee will be submitting a draft instrument for the GCF as well as recommendations on the transitional arrangements, for consideration in Durban. “The submissions…include a strong signal to engage the private sector and a solid basis to develop country-driven operations through direct access to funds,” according to Christina Figueres, Chairperson of the UNFCCC.
However, several press reports including one from IIED and Reuters, indicate that no consensus was met at the meeting, as U.S. and Saudi Arabia withdrew their support for the overall design of the GCF based on “concerns about some aspects of the text.” This will delay progress required to get the GCF launched in 2013.
The Pre-COP ministerial meeting held in Stellenbosch, South Africa ended this week with countries reaffirming that the outcome in Durban should be “balanced, fair and credible, [and] that it should preserve and strengthen the multilateral rules-based response to climate change.” In a statement released to the press on October 21st, incoming President for the COP 17 in Durban, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane reiterated that even though parties are anticipating the talks in Durban will be difficult, enough political will still exists to ensure a successful result.
Susan Tambi Matambo, International Policy Coordinator