Friday, September 25, 2009

Climate Change And Transitional Economies – Are They Incompatible?

Today, we are facing two crises: climate change and the global economy.

World’s development in many respects is substantially altered by climate changes. The delay in reducing the global emissions will also reduce our ability to achieve lower stabilization greenhouse gas emissions, which will in turn lead to increasing the possibility of more severe climate change risk.

Taking into account necessity for speeding up the negotiation process within the UNFCCC it is necessary to streamline the issue of climate change into all relevant international activities and processes. Climate change has to be placed at the top on national agendas.

Future climate change regime should put the world on pathways towards low-carbon and climate resilient society, and so contribute to achievement of sustainable development. At the same time activities related to adaptation should be base for the new climate change regime.

Effective international cooperation accompanied by appropriate national measures, could lead to achievement of this goal, based on the findings of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The lead role of all developed countries, in implementing present and new climate change regime has been recognized. Non – Annex I parties with GDP per capita similar to those of developed countries, could consider making similar commitments as developed countries, in line with their responsibilities, capabilities and national circumstances. Developing countries should limit the growth of their emissions, as well, trough nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMA), in accordance with their respective capabilities and capacities. Developing countries, in particular the most advanced amongst them, are expected to propose ambitious mitigation actions, to demonstrate enhanced contributions to the global effort.

Developing countries could indicate their contribution to the global mitigation effort through the concept of low-carbon development strategies (LCDS) which would be an opportunity for each developing country to indicate how it intends to reconcile emission mitigation actions with its broader sustainable development strategies and its priorities, including poverty eradication.

Developing countries, in limiting the growth of their emissions, will need to be supported by technology transfer, financing and capacity building. In order to incentivize the implementation of NAMAs by developing countries new climate regime should also contain specific carbon market based mechanisms.

Is economic growth, needed by developing and countries with economies in transition, and ambitious climate goals, expected to be agreed in Copenhagen, compatible? 

As many of you know, the 25 th session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC/GMEF) was held in February 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya, involving delegates from 147 countries, including 110 ministers and deputy ministers and 192 representatives of major groups and other stakeholders. It has been a great honor for me personally, and my country, Serbia, to be elected to perform a responsible role of President of the UNEP Governing Council in the following two-years period.

UNEP GC 25 th Session provided historical opportunity to reach the agreements on the outstanding global environmental issues of moving our societies towards the green economy, improved international environmental governance, launching of negotiation on legally binding instrument on mercury, IPBES, as well as on the other significant issues.

Ministers shared their experiences and points of view related to the past 12 months during which time the world witnessed the emergence of multiple global crises - besides evident financial crises which led to the worst global economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s, we have also been faced with imminent threats posed by food and energy insecurity, growing freshwater scarcity, rapidly rising and falling energy and food prices, deteriorating ecosystems and their services, and above all, worsening global poverty. Adding to the complexity of the situation is the issue of climate change, specifically including the significant impact of a world economic recovery that relies on fossil fuel consumption and accelerates global climate change.

In response to the eminent world treaths of climate change and economic crisis, UNEP has launched an initiative to promote the „greening“ of the global economy through increased investments in such areas as clean sources, sound chemical and waste management, biodiversity-based products, and environmental infrastructure. As an immediate first step, UNEP is calling for a Global Green New Deal to steer economic stimulus investments in an environmentally and finantially sustainable direction.

During the 25 GC/GMEF session, ministers and heads of delegations agreed that revitalization of the economy on a more sustained basis requests the same initiative and enthusiams as it has been reflected in the President Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1930s – this includes reducing carbon dependency, protecting ecosystems and water resources and alleviating poverty. Main idea of the New Global Green Deal is to make right and environmentally sound investments that will get people back to work and provide assistance for bringing state economies back to life, while, at the same time, contributing to the eliviation of the global climate change problems. Idea is that the environmental standards should promote trade and market access, especially in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. This includes the fact that the green economy measures must not create trade distortions, but provide incentives for investment and guarantee the trade right. Nonetheless, pricing policies must contribute to promotion of sustainable consumer behavior while taking into account interests of vulnerable groups of the society.

In order to make the Green Deal a reality and use it as a policy tool for climate change mitigation and adaptation, it is essential to build capacity, both human and institutional of transition and developing nations and to take advantage of existing technological solutions and financial support. Awareness raising, education and communication should be targeted to the public for the purpose of driving relevant political change.
Moreover, the green economy needs to be integrated into existing sustainable development processes. In order to achieve this, there is a clear requirement for establishment of a responsible and integrated environmental policy and decision making process, at national, regional and international levels. Huge step forward in this attempt would be to make a comprehensive reform of the environmental governance at the international scale.

Let me express my strong belief that the on-going deliberations on a Global Green New Deal and its relations to the climate change policy will be successful in their endeavors to combine the answers to both, the global threat to climate system and human-kind, and partial short-term concerns on improving our daily lives.

Oliver Dulic is Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning of Republic of Serbia, and President of UNEP GC

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