Advancing Climate Change Goals through Multi-level Governance and Green Cities

At the 25th Conference of Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid, the Asia LEDS Partnership, hosted by ICLEI South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia Secretariats, on the 10th of December 2019, supported the Government of Vietnam in convening a session at the NDC Partnership pavilion to showcase success stories and outcomes from Asian countries on vertical linkage / national and sub-national integration / city climate action plan / green cities through various initiatives.

Giving the welcome address at the event, Mr. Nguyen Tuan Anh, Deputy Director, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Government of Vietnam indicated his country’s leadership role in including sub-national governments in their commitment to achieving climate targets.

Dr. Vera Rodenhoff, Head of Division, International Cooperation on Environment, Energy & Cities; OECD and OECD–Countries, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation Building and Nuclear Safety, briefed the audience on the importance of integrated action to support NDC Ambition.

While cities are responsible for two-thirds of the global energy consumption, emissions and GDP, they are already actively involved in achieving SDGs by 2030 and are keen on supporting national governments in meeting the climate goal of restricting the global temperature rise to 1.5oC over the pre-industrial levels. It is now apparent that globally, we are unable to reach the target based solely on national government actions and that there is an imminent imperative to encourage and include sub-national action.

At the United Nations General Assembly in 2019, it was recognised that while cities alone can achieve one-third reduction in global GHG emissions and nations another one-third, the remaining one-third of global GHG emissions can be reduced only through collaborative action; States and Regions have an important role to play in collaborative climate action.

Ms. Rodenhoff emphasised the fact that collaboration among partners and agencies is also key to effective climate action. The international initiative to finance climate-smart urban projects – Leadership of Urban Climate Investments’ (LUCI) Initiative, will support the scale-up and leveraging of climate finance for climate-friendly urban infrastructure. Led by the Government of Germany, LUCI was developed with other governments and city networks.
The initiative intends to engage with 2000 cities in developing over 1000 bankable projects.

The multi-stakeholder initiative, the City Climate Finance Gap Fund also announced at the UNGA in 2019, financed by the governments of Germany and Luxembourg, aims for a capitalization of at least EUR 100 million, which will unlock EUR 4 billion in high-quality low-carbon and climate resilient infrastructure projects in cities.

The fund will be utilised to develop an at-scale pipeline of bankable projects. The Government of Germany is also leading the way for multi-level collaboration on climate action by linking national long-term strategies to local action plans – at the level of states, communities and citizens. This is through the National Climate Initiative by supporting local communities in implementing and revising their climate action plans. Support is also provided by deploying ‘climate implementation managers’ who help communities realise projects on LED lights on streets and in schools.

Since 2008, more than 29,000 projects have been set up as part of the National Climate Initiative, which has accumulated an investment of Euro 905 million as contribution to the country’s NDC as well as a key element for Germany’s long-term strategy. Thus it is clear that GHG emission reduction cannot be done by one party alone, and vertical integration is key to successful implementation of our climate goals.

Mr. Ron Benioff, Director, LEDS Global Partnership, elucidated the benefits that the Asia LEDS Partnership offered to national governments, and encouraged governments and practitioners to be a part of the Communities of Practice convened and managed by the ALP and supported by the LEDS GP working groups, Grid Integrated Renewable Energy, NDC Finance, Clean Mobility, Multi-Level Climate Governance and Building Energy Efficiency. The ALP is keen to hear from national governments about their immediate and long-term priorities and, in partnership with other global organisations, is keen to support them in attaining their climate targets, specifically by focusing on deep technical assistance, developing knowledge material and peer learning.

Ms. Le Hoang Anh, Senior Official, Vietnam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), shared her country’s experiences in preparing and implementing Green Growth Action Plans. The Green Growth Strategy of Vietnam addresses three key aspects – reduced GHG emission, green production and green lifestyle and sustainable consumption – that are included in the conceptual framework for Green Growth Action Plans.

The Green Growth Plan for Lam Dong Province was further elaborated; the plan addresses nine key areas that include “Increase production value for key commodities in Verified Sourcing Areas; Control emission from all sectors including from land cover/use change; Control waste production and reuse for greener production; Promoting climate-smart and more sustainable land-use system in Verified Sourcing Areas; Conserving water, natural resources and biodiversity; Promoting and enhancing the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency; Develop green and sustainable tourism; Promote green lifestyle and sustainable urban consumption and Create enabling conditions for transitioning towards a green economy”.

The role of public–private investment in establishing Verified Sourcing Areas, while also integrating a transparent supply chain with a larger aim of ensuring sustainable production, protection of resources and inclusion of local communities, was further elaborated.

Ms. Anand Tsog, Climate Change Officer, Ministry of Environment, Government of Mongolia, elaborated on how Mongolia is advancing climate change goals through multi-level governance and by developing green cities; specifically by including sub-national goals in the national NDCs and creating multi-level institutional mechanisms. Ulaanbaatar is the largest city in Mongolia, having more than half the population of the country, and also contributing to more than 50% of the national GHG emissions.

A national climate committee supported by a technical council, works in tandem with the Ulaanbaatar City Environmental Department in order to ensure consonance with national climate goals. Mongolia is one of the few countries that have an integrated national and subnational NDC action plan. Some of the key actions being pursued include the deployment of CNG buses and electric cars (as included in the framework for a smart low-carbon city); reduction in the use of raw coal in the urban agglomeration; retrofitting of old buildings with energy-efficient appliances; and deployment of heat-efficient stoves and boilers.

Implementation of the National Building Codes at the city level is underway with the support of GGGI. A feasibility study for constructing a waste-to-energy plant is also under-way. Since the concept of sub-national climate action is new, the country faces several challenges that can be overcome by strengthening the legal framework, ensuring transparency in the permitting and reporting system, enhancing public-private sector engagement and strengthening the technical capacities of officials at the national and city levels.

A new initiative is the NDC online platform, which will bring together all stakeholders; its necessity for the sustainability of the overall mechanism itself was realised. At the city level, Mongolia has seen active engagement from the private sector, with initiatives such as the zero waste movement and installation of cycling lanes.

The Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) has been supporting several countries in the Asia-Pacific region in developing and implementing Green Growth Action Plans and Low Emissions Strategies. Ms. Susanne Pedersen, Assistant Director General, Investment and Policy Solutions Division, GGGI, cited an example from Mongolia, where an energy efficiency potential assessment of 300 buildings was conducted and the retrofitting of these buildings was being financed by the Mongolia Green Fund, which was instituted with support from GGGI. The development of several other low emission-oriented initiatives are also being funded through the GCF. She mentioned that working at the city level was always a challenge as cities often struggled with resources, both financial as well as technical. To counter this, GGGI has worked extensively with secondary cities in Vietnam on supporting them in the development of urban climate mitigation plans through training of personnel and materialising bankable projects.

Dr. Nurun Nahar, Deputy Chief, Planning Commission, Government of Bangladesh, indicated that the national government supported sub-national action by devolving funds specifically for climate actions. A national-level study on adaptation measures is also informing sub-national actions in the country. Bangladesh is progressing well on achieving the SDG targets, specifically SDG 13. Specific NDC targets exist to further the achievement of SDG 13. SDGs are considered an effective entry point for ensuring city-level climate action. The Local Government Department is currently supporting climate action in seven districts of Bangladesh. There is further potential for integrating sub-national actions into the Bangladesh NDC, and there is a need to increase focus on climate change mitigation, in addition to the several adaptation actions that are being undertaken and proposed.

Ms. Sun Fen from the Climate Change Research Center of the Beijing Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau presented Beijing City’s Cap and Trade System. Having completed six cycles of emissions trading, the trading system covers over 900 entities in the market, covering several sectors including transport, hospitals, schools and property management. At present, the trading price for CO2 is USD 8 per tonne. The key to an effective market-based emissions trading system is to strengthen top-level policy systems. Beijing Municipal Congress intends to adopt a law for enforcing and regulating the cap and trade system. A robust information system ensures accurate reporting and verification within the emissions trading system; in addition to third-party verification, fourth party random checks are also conducted. Ensuring effective market regulatory mechanisms is key to the successful implementation of such trading mechanisms.

Panellists indicated to the Asia LEDS Partnership that in order to support the replication of their learnings, the Secretariat should focus on conducting topic-specific in-person trainings, development of knowledge material such as best practices, showcasing good cases on social media and linking member countries to other ongoing technical support programmes and peer learning networks, such as the Green Growth Knowledge Platform.

The Asia LEDS Partnership, based on the good practices presented in the session, will develop knowledge material, including case studies and information notes, for delving deeper into each of the cases, with support from the member countries.

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