2021-06 17
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Progress Made as May-June UN Climate Change Session Closes



UN Climate Change News, 17 June 2021 – The May-June Climate Change Session, the first to have been held virtually to prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held at the end of the year in Glasgow, Scotland, closed today. This was the first time that all Parties met since COP25 held in Madrid, Spain, in 2019. The sessions of the subsidiary bodies for implementation and technical advice took place over a three-week period. In view of the fact that last year the sessions could not take place, Party delegates from around the world engaged constructively across all time zones to address the issues under negotiation. “I sincerely thank all delegates for their full and effective virtual engagement. Despite the significant challenges the format created for many, especially in developing countries, all Parties remained fully committed. As a result, these sessions of the subsidiary bodies have proven to be a good way of advancing technical work,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. “While a significant amount of work remains, good progress has been made on many issues. My overall assessment is positive,” she added. Issues discussed in preparation for COP26 included making agriculture more sustainable, how best to take stock of progress of climate actions, fulfilling pre-2020 commitments, support to developing countries, and building resilience and adapting to the effects of climate change. There are still diverging views on finalizing the details of how the Paris Agreement’s carbon market and non-market mechanisms will work. While diverging views also remain on finalizing the details that will allow all countries to communicate their climate actions transparently under the Paris Agreement, progress was made on the tools needed to bring the transparency arrangements to life.   Other crunch issues that need to be resolved at COP26 include delivering the pledge to mobilize 100 billion dollars annually to support developing countries, raising ambition on emission reductions, adaptation and finance while ensuring that no voice remains unheard and no proposal unattended. “COP26 must be a success. These issues require leadership, political will and political decisions. Pending items must be wrapped up to fully implement the Paris Agreement and support must be unleashed so that all nations can take ambitious action. The UN stands ready to support all countries in these efforts,” Ms. Espinosa explained. The Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu said: “We have been able to make great strides on some of the deliverables for COP26. On other issues, there remains a lot of work to be done. If Parties are willing, the remaining differences can be overcome.”  The progress achieved during the session has been captured in informal notes. Marianne Karlsen, Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) said: “Since no decisions were taken, the informal notes will provide an honest picture of where discussions are when we meet in Glasgow.” The incoming COP President, Mr. Alok Sharma, agreed that the May-June session had achieved good progress. “We cannot be complacent and we all understand that there is still a significant amount of work that needs to be done to ensure COP26 is a success," he said. "The next few months are vital as the UK Presidency continues to reach out to Parties, driving progress and creating space to reach compromises. It is important that we meet in Glasgow having done our homework ahead of COP26,” he added. COP26 is set to be held from 31 October-12 November 2021 and in person. The incoming UK Presidency is making every effort to ensure that participation will be safe for all. As a result, both hygiene and vaccination concepts will be developed for the conference.   Source:UN Author:UN Date:June 17, 2021

2021-06 16
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New Funding Secured for Urgent Environmental Action



Credit: Anne Lin / Unsplash UN Climate Change News, 16 June 2021 – The governing body of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has approved a support package worth USD281 million designed to help developing countries make a sustainable recovery from the pandemic and which will mobilize significant additional finance for environmental action. The package, which was approved on the opening day of the 60th GEF Council meeting (14 to 18 June), is designed to underpin urgent environmental action with a focus on marine biodiversity, fisheries, chemical and waste management. It also includes support for projects related to biodiversity, climate change and land degradation. Addressing the GEF meeting today, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, highlighted the importance of the facility in tackling climate change, particularly in developing countries. She urged developed nations to finally deliver on their promise of USD 100 billion annually in support to developing nations to enable their transition to greener, more sustainable economies: “Climate change, like the coronavirus, recognizes no borders or political ideologies. When one nation is impacted, all feel the pain. Support to developing nations is, therefore, an act of mutual self-interest,” she said. New finance to generate many co-benefits The new initiatives are set to benefit more than 18 million people, while generating global environmental benefits. Each dollar provided in the package is expected to mobilize more than 10 dollars in co-financing from other sources. The GEF is an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the UN Climate Change Convention together with the Green Climate Fund. It serves the Paris Agreement by ensuring efficient access to financial resources for developing countries in the context of their national climate strategies and plans. GEF support is critical to the implementation of countries’ national climate action plans, known as NDCs. Governments are preparing to submit or update their NDCs ahead of the crucial UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow in November, with finance seen as key to its success. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Espinosa spoke of opportunities presented by the climate and COVID crises: “The rollout of trillions of dollars to address post-COVID recovery is an opportunity to accelerate the transition away from fossil-fuel and high-emissions-based economies towards economies that are low carbon, sustainable and resilient." GEF CEO and Chairperson Carlos Manuel Rodriguez noted before the meetings that many developing countries had shown impressive resolve in continuing to prioritize environmental action over the past year, even in extremely difficult conditions. “I am humbled by the commitment and perseverance we have seen by our partner governments to keep prioritizing environmental issues through the pandemic, and to raise collective ambitions to put our planet on a healthier path,” Rodriguez said. “I truly believe we are defeating the odds to build momentum for a green, blue, clean and resilient recovery, and I look forward to continuing to work together toward the change the world needs.” Seven climate adaptation projects will also be considered for support this week from the GEF-managed Least Developed Countries Fund, which provides dedicated climate resilience support to Least Developed Countries. Source:UN Author:UN Date:June 16, 2021

2021-06 08
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Healthy Oceans Vital to Achieving a Low-carbon and Resilient World



Credit: Seashore Under White and Blue Sky during Sunset / Pixabay UN Climate Change News, 8 June 2021 – World Oceans Day, celebrated annually on 8 June, is a reminder of the major role the oceans have in the health of people and the planet. While oceans have suffered heavy impacts of climate change, such as sea level rise, they are fast becoming recognized as a vital ally in achieving a decarbonized and resilient world. The second fully virtual celebration of United Nations World Oceans Day, on 8 June 2021, will highlight the theme of The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods. It also launches the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, with the aim of reaching Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources,” by 2030. Oceans are home to nature-based solutions to the climate crisis such as mangroves, tidal marshes, coral reefs and seaweed. Not only can they sequester and store more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests, they can also help safeguard coastal cities, communities and businesses from the impacts of a changing climate Healthy oceans are instrumental in regulating the climate system and are integral to achieving the SDGs, the goals of the Paris Agreement, and the ambition needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Moreover, it has emerged that just four ocean-based activities, if incorporated into countries’ climate action plans, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), can contribute to more than 20% of the emission reductions needed to keep the world on a 1.5℃ pathway. According to the report by the World Resources Institute (WRI), these include the protection of blue carbon coastal ecosystems; well managed oceanic and coastal fisheries; ocean-based renewable energy; and decarbonized ocean-based transport. The recommendations complement the work of the UN High Level Champions, who in May released a cornerstone document for ocean-climate action in the same four areas. The report plots a pathway of milestones for ocean stakeholders to abide by in order to deliver a 1.5°C resilient world by 2050. Closing knowledge gaps in climate adaptation in coastal areas Existing knowledge gaps in adapting to the impacts of climate change in coastal areas can prevent particularly developing countries from taking necessary action. However, momentum is growing towards forming partnerships to close these gaps. The Nairobi Work Programme (NWP) under the UN Climate Change Convention counts oceans, coastal areas and ecosystems among its priority areas. The NWP’s expert group on the ocean, established in 2019, has taken over the challenge of bringing ocean-driven action to the surface, bridging knowledge gaps that will support countries in strengthening their work on ocean and climate adaptation. The third meeting of the expert group, held on May 11-12, 2021, gathered members of more than 25 leading and diverse organisations to develop long-term strategies and actions that can support countries in building resilience. At the meeting, the expert group stressed the importance of strengthening linkages of the work under the NWP with existing initiatives for climate adaptation. Part of the collaborative actions undertaken by the expert group was to develop a supplement to the UN Climate Change technical guidelines on National Adaptation Plans (NAPs). The supplement aims to facilitate access to funding from the Green Climate Fund for coastal and marine Nature-based Solutions, including ecosystem-based adaptation. Other initiatives under the NWP Lima Adaptation Knowledge Initiative (LAKI), which addresses challenges faced by the Pacific Islands at sub-regional levels;   UN Climate Change and Universities Partnership Programme, which provides opportunities for graduate students to work closely with local, national and regional partners. . Source:UN Author:UN Date:June 8, 2021

2021-06 02
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Accelerating Supply Chain Decarbonization



Credit: Igor Dibrovin / Pixabay UN Climate Change News, 2 June 2021 – UN Climate Change has partnered with the Coalition on Materials Emissions Transparency (COMET) — an initiative founded by RMI, the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), and the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines—to establish a harmonized carbon accounting method to correctly measure and attribute the environmental impact of material and energy supply chains. The COMET Framework will address a fundamental gap in consistent, broadly applicable, and widely accepted methodologies in current global carbon accounting practices for these supply chains, which together represent over 40% of global emissions. The greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are embedded in every product available on the market today are currently almost impossible to measure, meaning they are also extremely difficult to reduce. There are currently multiple systems to measure emissions in specific materials or sectors, but these do not “communicate” with each other. To address this, the world needs a carbon accounting system that is similar to financial accounting, which works for across industries with a common “language.” The key problem that COMET is seeking to address is that current systems for reporting emissions are fragmented. There are currently no universal rules for attributing or validating emissions from materials in and production of products, making accountability along supply chain emissions difficult if not impossible to count. This means that companies and their investors are left to independently determine how to use standards and methodologies, often resorting to generalized GHG inventories and emissions disclosures. However, the data required, and the methods used for the accurate determination of emissions vary widely across producers. One consequence of the methodological fragmentation of emissions accounting in industrial supply chains is that current disclosures are barely actionable for decision-making. To address these challenges, COMET will work in partnership with UN Climate Change Secretariat to create the COMET Framework. The COMET Framework will bring together the main GHG emissions standards and protocols, both generic and sector-specific, into an integrated set of guidance documents, built on the principles of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. “I am very heartened by COMET’s work,” said Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change Secretariat. “Streamlined emissions reporting will provide methods to reliably and comparably estimate industrial sector emissions. This will provide important insights into how both States and non-State actors are progressing towards their climate commitments,” he added. “You can’t reduce what you can’t measure. A universal carbon accounting approach will be a power tool to empower every industry to decarbonize at the swiftest rate possible,” said Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of RMI. Mr. Kortenhorst added: “Both RMI and UN Climate Change hold a shared belief that COMET will provide unparalleled insights about the sources of emissions. We need this insight to drive climate-aligned decision making.” In 2021, COMET will undertake an industrial scale pilot project, prioritizing steel (a 4 Gt CO2/year industry) one of the largest emitting material supply chains. The solutions and results of the pilot will be showcased at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), to be held in Glasgow, Scotland at the end of the year. The Framework will take the form of a set of guidance documents, accompanied by a web-based utility, to serve the needs of voluntary actors with automatic generation of harmonized emissions metrics based on data provided by the user. Once available, the COMET Framework can be used by governments, companies, and investors to conduct comparative analysis, gain insights on sources of emissions, assess progress toward commitments, gauge ambition levels, and craft policy. Source:UN Author:UN Date:June 2, 2021

2021-05 31
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Progress Urged as May-June Climate Change Conference Opens in Preparation for COP26



UN Climate Change News, 31 May 2021 – Against the backdrop of a new international warning that the world is dangerously close to exceeding the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise at 1.5C, governments today began three weeks (May 31 to June 17, 2021) of virtual discussions designed to pave the way for a successful UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow. Following a year of limited and informal virtual meetings in 2020 due to COVID-19, these subsidiary body meetings provide governments with opportunities to make progress on several outstanding technical issues that are key to achieving success at COP26, implementing the Paris Agreement and ultimately limiting global temperatures to 1.5C. The need for urgent progress was underlined by a new assessment, published by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) last week, indicating there is now about a 40% chance that the annual average global temperature will reach the 1.5C mark in at least one of the next five years. Exceeding this goal will likely impact food security and lead to more frequent and severe climate impacts such as heat waves, storms and sea level increases.  “It’s time to wrap up outstanding negotiations and implement the Paris Agreement,” said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. “The WMO’s assessment is a clear warning that time is running out for the world to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Unleashing its full potential will not only address climate change but help the world build forward from COVID-19 and drive the transformation towards a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future. We stand at a unique and unprecedented moment in time and we cannot afford to miss this opportunity.” “This is the time for leadership. This is the time for decisions. These May-June sessions must maximize progress and limit delays. They are a critical milestone in preparing the ambitious and balanced outcome that we need in Glasgow.” Key items for discussion include fulfilling pre-2020 commitments; support to developing countries; finalizing the details that will allow all countries to communicate their climate actions transparently under the Paris Agreement; finalizing the details of how the agreement’s carbon market and non-market mechanisms will work; and raising ambition on both resilience-building and emission reductions. “With just over five months to go until COP, the message is clear - we must step up our global response to the climate crisis. It is vital we make this session count, by moving past positional statements and making tangible progress within the UNFCCC process. Working together, we must consolidate options and draft text that we can bring to COP26 for finalization and adoption, so that we arrive in Glasgow having done our homework and ready to deliver against the goals of the Paris Agreement,” said Alok Sharma, the incoming President of COP26. “We reiterate our firm commitment to working extremely closely together to guide the UNFCCC intergovernmental process in a transparent and inclusive manner towards a successful outcome at COP26 in Glasgow this November. We count on Parties’ and non-Party Stakeholders’ understanding, support and collaboration in this matter,” said Carolina Schmidt, President of COP25. Convening a session of the subsidiary bodies virtually is new to the process. However, last year’s virtual meetings provided the countries and non-Party Stakeholders the opportunity to continue discussions on climate action. “Last year, countries managed to continue their exchanges on various topics and to maintain momentum of the process through their active participation in several virtual events. They have gained experience on how to use the virtual tools and platforms provided by UN Climate Change to support their work,” said Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) Marianne Karlsen, Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) said: “I am confident that the outcome that will be captured in informal notes under Tosi’s and my authority will bring the reassurance needed by Parties that what we will be doing in June will bear fruits that can be picked up at a subsequent sessional period and be brought to maturation at the end of Glasgow.” The virtual venue is open to registered participants. The SBSTA and SBI sessions will start on Monday 31 May. The secretariat will continue to provide support – including logistical and connectivity needs - to ensure the full and effective participation of Parties. Source:UN Author:UN Date:May 31, 2021