The Asia LEDS Partnership (ALP) Forum 2021 commenced on August 23, 2021, with a virtual gathering of about 225 participants and an array of expert speakers. ICLEI South Asia Executive Director and Lead Director of the ALP Mr. Emani Kumar opened the session with a brief overview of the climate change situation in the Asia-Pacific region. He said with climate change, compared to 2015, the GDP in the region could fall by 3.3 % by 2050 and emphasized that long-term strategies could play a key role in mitigating the climate impacts. “Climate change is a continuous, rapid threat that cannot be ignored. Long-term strategies and their linkage with NDCs can play a key role in achieving the Paris Agreement goals and support just transition,” said Mr. Kumar.
Delivering the welcome remarks, ALP Co-chair and Chief, Sustainable Urban Development Section, UNESCAP, Mr. Curt Garrigan said the convening of the forum was timely in the light of the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. The report reveals that the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) in the Asia-Pacific are falling seriously short in supporting the Paris Agreement goals. He notified that a record 36.7 Gigatons of CO2 emissions were registered in Asia pacific in 2019. GHG emissions are projected to grow to 50 Gigatons by 2060 globally. He gave brief overviews of the upcoming sessions of the ALP Forum and invited the audience to actively participate in them.
“While countries plan, cities implement. The Asian and Pacific regions became majority urban in 2019 for the first time in human history. Multi-level climate governance, vertical integration, and also horizontal integration is seen as critical to achieving national ambitions – countries are increasingly realizing the opportunities and benefits presented by planning for and implementing robust multi-level governance processes,” said Mr. Garrigan.
Ms. Caroline Uriarte, Senior Program Manager, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Ms. Soumya Chaturvedula, Deputy Director, ICLEI South Asia, gave brief overviews of the work of LEDS-GP and ALP, respectively, how they operate, objectives, and their initiatives and projects, and invited the participants to join these forums.
Mr. Ian Lloyd, Senior Advisor for Clean Energy and innovation, Office of Global Change, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), US Department of State, spoke of the United States’ commitment to support developing countries to cut emissions and to achieve net-zero emissions. He mentioned that during the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, held in April 2021 the US is committed to its NDC, reducing its own emissions to 50% by 2030.
He said the ambition to shift to clean mobility is evident in many Asian countries. US Department of State (DOS) is especially committed to work with the countries and institutions engaged in Asia LEDs to support the work of key high ambition regional Communities of Practice (CoP). The DOS will also focus on scaling up the work of the “Asia grid renewable energy community practice” together with the “Global Power System Transformation Consortium (G-PST)” on technical and market solutions to enable power systems to manage high levels of variable renewable energy.
“Asia LEDs Forum is an excellent opportunity for knowledge creation and exchange as well as peer-to-peer learning,” said Mr. Lloyd.
Mr. Till Tibbe, Policy Officer, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), said that long-term strategies, tools, investments, and actors are important in combatting climate change and that we should realize the nexus between net-zero targets and the NDCs. He added that we need business and civil society initiatives, government policies, the development of zero-emission technology, and innovations. Knowledge sharing is crucial for implementing climate actions, he said, such as knowledge of net-zero targets and NDCs, and learning from experiences, technologies, and mistakes.
Mr. Conor Barry, Team Lead, Intergovernmental Negotiations and for NDCs, Long-Term Strategies and Sectoral Support, Mitigation Division, UNFCCC, said that globally 120 national governments and over 760 local governments have joined the climate ambitions to show their commitments to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. He highlighted that the Asia region is critical to the goals of the Paris Agreement given that it emits more than half of the world’s GHG emissions and is the most rapidly developing region in the world. He said the low-emission goals of countries should reflect their NDCs, adding that immediate actions such as decarbonization, sustainable mobility, net-zero buildings, and market preparedness were also crucial for policy implementation. He further added, the nations who have not yet submitted their NDCs, still have an opportunity to submit ambitious NDC targets prior to COP26.
“Climate change remains the greatest risk for this century – long-term strategies and Nationally Determined Contributions by countries need to reflect climate urgency,” said Mr. Barry.
In the first plenary session, Climate Action Theme Lead, Environment and Development Policy Section, Environment and Development Division, UN ESCAP, Ms. Aneta Nikolova presented the analysis from the IPCC report on Global warming, which says that if countries start contributing actively towards carbon neutrality and focus on limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C, the target to reach net-zero emissions would be possible by 2060 -70.
She added that China, India, Russian Federation, Indonesia, Japan were amongst the top 10 emitters in 2019. She gave a brief overview of the NDC implementation in the Asia Pacific. She said the enabling factors for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 were mainstreaming climate change into laws and policy; allocation of financial resources; horizontal and vertical coordination mechanism and monitoring capacity, besides gender mainstreaming under each category. She said that while countries appeared to be taking more action on climate finance, they needed to act on mainstreaming, transparency and coordination too.
Dr. Saleemul Huq, Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), Bangladesh, said that we still could prevent the worse from happening in the long term with reference to climate change. He said the NDCs should aim for keeping the temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius and should be more ambitious; every dollar that is invested should keep climate change into account; and that companies that have profited from pollution should be held accountable.
“We can see the impacts of climate change every single day – forest fire and floods around the world. It is something that is happening, and it is going to get worse at least for the next 10-20 years,” said Dr. Huq.
In the panel discussion on country reports, Ms. Anand Tsog, Climate Change Policy Specialist, Climate Change Department, Ministry of Environment And Tourism, Mongolia, spoke on her country’s experience in defining its NDCs. She mentioned that Mongolia recently submitted an updated plan of NDC implementation and pledged a target of 22.7% of GHG reductions by 2030. She also said that the climate is rapidly changing in Mongolia, in the last eight years the annual mean temperature increased by 2.25 °C and annual precipitation decreased by 7% and overall 77 % of the territory is being impacted by desertification. The NDC Action Plan will focus on seven sectors including Energy, Construction, Transportation, IPPU, Agriculture, Waste and Forest, she added.
Dr. Pem Narayan Kandel, Secretary, Ministry of Forests and Environment, Nepal, described the long-term policy formulation and NDCs in that country. He referred to a study that revealed that an average of 647 people died per year between 1971-2019 from Climate Disasters. He also added that Nepal will need to invest $25 billion USD to implement NDCs.
“Government of Nepal has submitted Second NDC to UNFCCC. The action plan focuses on sectors such as forest, energy, transport, and e-cooking,” he said.
Ms. Vichet Ratha Khlok, NDC Partnership in-country Facilitator, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia, spoke on mainstreaming gender considerations in climate change planning.
“Ministry of Environment has motivated women participation and work implementation for environment protection,” she said.
She further added that the Global Climate Risk Index (1999-2018) placed Cambodia in 12th place of the most vulnerable countries around the world. In the Vulnerability assessment (2019), 17.5 % of Cambodia’s communes were highly vulnerable. Cambodia has begun to develop its National Adaptation Plan.
Dr. Chu Thi Thanh Huong, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam, elaborated on mainstreaming NDC commitments. He informed the participants that Vietnam, in 2020 has submitted an updated NDC. “By 2025, Vietnam plans to reduce total GHG emissions by about 7.3% compared to BAU scenario and by 2030 Vietnam plans to reduce total GHG emissions by about 9%,” he said.