ALP Forum 2021 Calls for Upscaling Climate Ambitions in Decisive Decade for Achieving Paris Goals

The Asia LEDS Partnership Forum 2021, held in August-September, concluded with a call for countries to become more ambitious with their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and to “do better forward” to prevent the world from ending up with more emissions by 2030, as compared to current levels.

Fifteen virtual sessions covered critical issues in energy, sub-national integration, long-term low emission development strategies (LT-LEDS), transport, finance, and transparency during the conference spread over three weeks. The key challenges that were discussed included the need to reform governance to align policy with the NDCs, inadequate resources in terms of capacity, access to finance, efficient technology and even data, and supporting businesses to make the transition to LEDS, as well as technology transfers, economic recovery, vertical and horizontal integration and empowerment of local governments, among others. Inaugural, Plenary 1, and Plenary 2 full summary.

Delivering the welcome remarks in the opening session, ALP Co-chair and Chief, Sustainable Urban Development Section, UNESCAP, Mr. Curt Garrigan said that the convening of the forum was timely in the light of the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which reveals that the NDCs in the Asia-Pacific are falling seriously short in supporting the Paris Agreement goals. “The Asian and Pacific region 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,” he said.

Taking note of the IPCC report, the participants at the ALP Forum urged for mainstreaming climate change into laws and policy, allocation of more funds for climate actions, and raising national climate ambitions, among other urgent actions to enable the achievement of net-zero emissions by 2050.

The sessions on energy emphasized the need to support power system operators, who can be important agencies for power system transformation, influence policymakers, attract investments, and have an important role in making the transition to clean energy.  The experts agreed on the need to build road maps for distributed energy resources with new policies and financing models, and better technology adaptation.

The discussions on subnational climate actions focused on the importance of clear mandates for each level of government and vertical integration to track progress on climate action. Local and regional governments should also get greater recognition as leaders of climate actions, backed by financial and resource planning, bankable projects, and knowledge and tool products.

A key message is that better use of available resources can be ensured by aligning long-term low emission development strategies (LT-LEDS)  and NDCs. LT-LEDS can help the development of NDC road maps or action plans that embed climate change in national policymaking processes and operationalize activities to reduce emissions and increase resilience. Session Summary

It was agreed that the Avoid-Shift-Improve strategy could help recovery in the transport sector: by avoiding and reducing the need for motorized travel; shifting to sustainable modes; and improving transport modes.  The adoption of renewable energy and electric vehicles will be key to the energy transition in this sector, backed by measures such as phasing out of internal combustion vehicles and setting up of emissions standards. Session Summary

The key messages that emerged from the ALP Forum sessions on Investments to Support NDC Implementation and Low-Emission Development, and on Global Carbon Market Instruments were that private investment should be accelerated; bankable and climate-resilience focused pipeline projects should be developed, and embedding climate change in system transitions will help countries to adapt and move away from high-carbon systems. Private sector investment is essential to achieving enhanced NDCs as the public sector spending alone cannot support the level of investment needed to achieve country goals. The speakers pointed out that putting a price on carbon is extremely important, as the rise in GHG emissions has been a result of market failure, and that the costs of emissions are not included in economic activities.

In the sessions on transparency, experts agreed that robust institutional arrangements would help countries to provide reliable, comprehensive, and regularly updated information that meets the enhanced reporting requirements, and to ensure requisite improvements on a regular basis. They said that a cross-sectoral approach is necessary to optimize the Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification system. Furthermore, capacity building and relationship building is central to long-term and sustainable institutional arrangements.

More than 1600 participants from 56 countries attended the event, and actively interacted in question-and-answer sessions with 95 eminent representatives of UN organizations, national governments, international non-profit organizations and corporations, utility companies, and academia. The ALP Forum 2021 was organized by the Asia LEDS Partnership and LEDS-GP and supported by GIZ, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the US Department of State, and the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany.  The Forum concluded with the announcement of its new 22-member Steering Committee for the period from the 1st of September 2021 to the 31st of August 2023. Closing Session Summary

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