4 takeaways from COP24 in Poland as climate agenda takes center stage
The main highlights of the UN climate conference in Katowice are the 4 “Cs” of coordination, capacity building, coherence, and champions.
I have just returned from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP24 climate conference in Katowice, Poland, where from 3 to 14 December more than 22,000 representatives from governments, development finance institutions, the private sector, civil society, and thinks tanks gathered to discuss advancement of the global climate agenda. Central to the negotiations was the adoption by governments of a rulebook for implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change from 2020 onward.
COP24 closed with the Katowice Climate Package, a compromise agreement on some of the key issues related to implementation of the Paris Agreement, including reporting on greenhouse gas emissions and provision of finance by developed countries to support climate action in developing countries. However, COP24 also closed with some work still to do on carbon market mechanisms. Overall, enough was achieved to keep the process alive. A heartening sign was the financing pledges by Germany and Norway, which announced they would commit €1.5 billion and €500 million, respectively, to the Green Climate Fund.
Outside the formal negotiation process, to which ADB is an accredited observer, the energy and enthusiasm of participants was palpable. Over two intense days, I was able to speak at two ADB-hosted side events and participate in events hosted by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Indonesia, and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) Partnership.
My main takeaways from COP24 could be grouped under 4 “Cs” – coordination, capacity building, coherence, and champions.
First, coordination. For an effective climate response, actors at all levels must respond and work together under a common vision that reflects both the urgency and long-term commitment needed for tackling climate change.
This year was the first that the main multilateral development banks (MDBs) shared a common pavilion. Aside from facilitating coordination between institutions, it showed that the MDBs are stepping up as a group to provide the needed resources for climate action in developing countries.
At the High-Level Consultation of the NDC Partnership—a grouping of countries, including 14 of ADB’s developing member countries (DMCs), and development partners committed to implementation of ambitious NDCs—I joined country ministers and senior leaders of development organizations in reaffirming our joint ambition to cooperate through the NDC Partnership to provide scaled up support to climate action.
Second, capacity. In order for all concerned actors—whether a city or provincial government, a private sector company, or a civil society organization—to fully take part in the global fight against climate change and implement actions within their context, capacities must be strengthened across the board.
During COP24, ADB launched the Article 6 Support Facility, an initiative to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement, with support from the governments of Germany and Sweden. Under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, DMCs will be able to take cooperative approaches and participate in new carbon market mechanisms to mobilize financing for low carbon projects. The facility will provide technical, capacity building, and policy development support to DMCs to help them to identify, develop, and pilot mitigation actions under the framework of Article 6.
I was also pleased to announce the launch of NDC Advance, a $4.55 million ADB support facility that will allow DMCs to develop bankable climate investment plans in support of their NDCs, implement innovative financial mechanisms, and track progress against NDC objectives.
I was happy to note interest from several DMCs in availing of support under these two facilities.
Third, coherence. National climate and development plans and incentives must be aligned with the overall vision of what countries are to achieve in the long term. Coherent policy frameworks are needed to guide investment decisions, particularly by the private sector.
At the PRC pavilion, I was invited to give opening remarks on a session on climate governance together with Minister Xie Zenhua, Special Envoy on Climate Change for the PRC, and Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Change. In my address, I highlighted the need for increased coordination between different levels of government in order to ensure that climate commitments made by each country on the international level were effectively translated into action on the subnational and local level.
I also mentioned that ADB has increased its support to subnational governments to strengthen capacity development and investments to support climate change action. For instance, ADB is implementing a regional Low Carbon City Development Program that supports five cities in the PRC, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia in developing city level roadmaps for achieving early peaking of greenhouse gas emissions.
And last, champions. In the end, it’s all about people who commit personally to the fight against climate change. I was encouraged by my interactions with DMC delegations to the UNFCCC, including Indonesia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, and with representatives of organizations like the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Program and the Global Commission on Adaptation, who are full of energy and ideas on how to act in their respective contexts. ADB should help to empower these champions so that they can play their part in the climate transition.
Summing up, ADB has an increasingly important role to play in ensuring that DMCs can access the support they need for climate action. Toward this end, ADB has committed in its Strategy 2030 to provide $80 billion in climate finance cumulatively between 2019 and 2030 and ensure that at least 75% of its projects will address climate mitigation and adaptation by 2030. To do so effectively, ADB must remain responsive to the needs of its DMCs and provide knowledge solutions and build partnerships to enhance local capacity for tackling the many challenges posed by climate change.