Participants of a key meeting in Poland to prepare the UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice in December 2018 (COP24) highlighted the wealth of economic opportunities when acting on climate change, and the urgent need for a just transition towards a low carbon society that both protects the climate and jobs.
Speaking at the business day of the so-called “Pre-COP” in Krakow, Poland, attended by Ministers from 35 countries, government delegations and private sector representatives, the Deputy Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, Ovais Sarmad, said: “You have all highlighted that economic growth and tackling climate change are compatible. In fact, one leads to the other. Therefore, it is a very encouraging moment. We need to have a just transition to low-carbon. But the time for that is getting shorter and shorter.”
At the Pre-COP, the International Energy Agency presented latest data showing that global greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector are set to grow in 2018, continuing the upwards trend observed since 2017.
With current commitments, the global community is not on track to achieve the Paris Agreement’s central goal, which is to hold the global average temperatures to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius and well under 2 degrees Celsius.
To achieve this goal, emissions would need to peak as soon as possible, and the world would need to be climate neutral by 2050.
The focus of the pre-COP24 business day was achieving climate neutrality notably through accelerated in action in the areas of energy, electromobility and urbanisation – all highly interlinked or overlapping topics.
Michal Kurtyka, Polish Secretary of State and incoming COP24 President, said a revolution of clean transport with the help of electro-mobility could bring a new quality of life not only to the richer societies, but also to those in poorer countries with large urban societies.
One example of leapfrogging polluting technologies in developing countries is intelligently combining new battery technology with electro mobility. Another example is making use of car sharing schemes, also for electric vehicles.
“It will change the energy sector by making energy storage more affordable than any time before. Introducing the sharing economy to the mobility sector will redefine our concept of using cars and car itself, specially combined with advanced digital technologies of the autonomous vehicles,” he said.
He pointed to Poland as an example of a country that had successfully deployed innovation in many areas and was now looking to innovate in the fields of mobility, energy and urbanization.
In terms of urbanisation, participants highlighted the need for a green shift in the tax system, cities setting environmental standards and different incentives for producers and consumers. In the field of energy, the central focus was on the importance of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Sarmad noted that at the recent World Bank/IMF annual ministerial meeting in Indonesia, Finance Ministers recognised the $26 trillion worth of economic opportunities for the business community.
These opportunities could best be seized by fully implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
One of the key outcomes of COP24 would be to finalise and adopt the guidelines that will tell the world how to implement the Paris Agreement fairly and transparently.
“As of last week, 181 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement. No other multilateral, global agreement enjoys that kind of political commitment. We now need to unleash the Agreement’s full potential by finalising its implementation guidelines,” he said.
Following the Pre-COP’s successful business day, discussions among Ministers at the Pre-COP over the next two days will focus on issues relating to the implementation guidelines.