The ALP Forum sessions, held on August 31, 2021, focused on green recovery and the aligning of NDCs and LT-LEDS. The first session of the day, moderated by Mr. Deo Gabinete, Regional Manager, NDC Partnership Support Unit, Regional Collaboration Centre Bangkok (RCC), Bangkok, emphasized that countries needed to focus on mainstreaming climate action hand-in-hand with economic recovery plans. Pandemic recovery should be seen as an opportunity to step up climate action, he said. While the funds most countries put aside for COVID-19 action would not cover the finance needed for climate action, countries need to realize that the successful alignment of NDCs and LT-LEDS can ensure better use of available resources.
In her presentation, Ms. Hannah Muthoni Ryder, Regional Climate Change Expert, Environment and Development Division, UNESCAP, said that in 2020, New Zealand was the only country in the Asia-Pacific region to bring in new policy actions in six sectors during the pandemic, though five of these were new sectors and not aligned with those already in its NDCs. In contrast, 19 countries in the region introduced just one or less new policies, half of which were not in NDCs. Some, but not all of these 19 countries, were low-income or least developed countries. That said, the largest emitters in the region – India, China and Japan – seemed to be taking action. She said that a UNESCAP analysis found several significant gaps in ensuring a “green recovery” throughout the Asia-Pacific region. It also made several recommendations on how governments could adjust their behavior and actions, in particular through the six inspiring examples of China in the energy sector, the Philippines in the transport sector, Palau in tourism, Kazakhstan in agriculture, Afghanistan in the water sector, and Myanmar in healthcare.
Mr Gabinete gave an overview of the NDC Partnership Economic Advisory Initiative, a global coalition of countries and institutions that was launched last year to provide a broad range of services ranging from technical assistance to financing implementation. One of its initiatives is to embed economic advisors in 34 developing countries; 42 advisors have already been embedded in 30 countries so far. Their scope of work includes assessing the impact of the new economic situation on climate; supporting cost analysis of new NDCs; designing fiscal instruments to stimulate green growth; and incorporating low-carbon plans into stimulus plans. In Sao Tome and Principe, for instance, the embedded advisor has integrated climate considerations into project cycles, while in Jordan, more than 100 potential green recovery actions have been identified, which informed the finalization of a new US$500 million loan for a World Bank Program-for-Results project. “We are also serving key emerging themes such as digital economy, social inclusion and sustainable government procurement,” Mr Gabinete said.
The experiences of GGGI member countries in preparing LT-LEDS was the focus of the presentation by Ms. Diana Alejandra Quezada Avila, Green Recovery Lead, Climate Action and Inclusive Development Unit (CAID), Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI). She said that country performances in achieving SDGs should be measured to assess the socio-economic co-benefits of policy measures related to the SDGs as well as the NDC targets and investments, under the different LT-LEDS scenarios. Because green recovery measures aim to support and accelerate the achievement of SDGs, the GGGI’s Green Growth Index and its simulation tool as well as the LEDS scenarios developed by using them, also provide guidance in this direction. She added that translating the NDCs and national climate strategies into transformational bankable projects that can secure financing and ultimately increase public and private sector capital flows through the development of NDCs is key for implementation.
Mr. Deepak Krishnan, Associate Director, Energy Program, World Resources Institute (WRI) India, said that post-pandemic recovery is becoming greener over time, particularly in energy, where clean energy commitments are increasing. In the past year, the proportion of public money committed to clean energy has increased. Some countries, such as Canada, India, the US and some European Union countries are making more green investments today, as compared to last April, as they move from rescue to recovery spending. However, the world is not doing enough, Mr Krishnan said, as per various green stimulus trackers. For instance, in India, public transport needs improvement with multi-modal integration and incentives offered for low and eventually no-emission vehicles; adaptability against climate vulnerabilities for both urban and rural residents need to be built; and innovative financial schemes to help reduce energy demand need to be developed.
Mr. Manjeet Dhakal, Head, LDC Support Team, Climate Analytics, said that there were multiple benefits and co-benefits of the coal phase-out. Utilization of solar and wind power could satisfy the needs of almost all South and Southeast Asian countries many times over, he added. The harmonization of LT-LEDS, NDC, SDG, NAP is necessary, and SDG linkages and just transition methods in LTS should be included.
LT-LEDS and its linkages with NDCs
In the second session of the day, facilitated by Ms Diana Alejandra Quezada Avila of GGGI, the urgent need to improve the capacity of countries in understanding LT-LEDS and its linkages with NDCs was highlighted. Experts said that countries needed to learn from their peers on how to successfully integrate NDC and LT-LEDS. There is a strong need for gender mainstreaming and consideration of women and other marginalized sections and international equity, while aligning NDCs and LT-LEDS. Additionally, development partners need to provide local economic, social and environmental insights and create a long-term platform for stakeholder engagement, capacity building, and successful LT-LEDS preparation and implementation.
Mr. Jens Radschinski, Regional Lead, RCC Bangkok, emphasized the importance of facilitating support for climate action towards the implementation of countries’ NDCs, with a focus on markets and mechanisms. He pointed out that the initial NDC synthesis report covers NDCs from only 75 countries that communicated a new or updated NDC before the end of last year, and shows that the total GHG emissions in 2030 will be just 0.5% lower than in 2010. Globally, more than 120 national governments and over 760 local governments have joined the Climate Ambition Alliance to show their commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Last year, from Asia, China, Japan and Republic of Korea announced their mid-century net-zero emissions goals; Korea, Indonesia, Republic of Marshall Islands and Fiji have submitted their long-term strategies also. “NDCs and long-term strategies are key policy signals for domestic and international investors and economic actors. It is critically important that the long-term trajectory is clearly highlighted in the NDC to give a signal to all actors across the economy, to be able to align their actions and investments with the goals of the Paris Agreement,” Mr Radschinski said.
Dr. Stelios Grafakos, Principal Economist, GGGI, said that LT-LEDS could be an important step towards the development of NDC road maps or action plans that embed climate change in national policymaking processes, operationalize activities to reduce emissions and increase resilience, and help identify projects and financing needs. The long-term perspective laid out in LT-LEDS is useful for designing the shorter-term actions of NDCs, and could help to identify obstacles and barriers to implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation. The LT-LEDS provides the necessary direction for the enhancement of NDC and reinforces actionable, achievable and ambitious NDCs, Dr Grafakos said.
Prof. Joyashree Roy, Bangabandhu Chair Professor, Asian Institute of Technology, was of the view that the game-changing solution of zero-carbon electricity and green hydrogen needed to be ramped up across the Asian continent. She said the question was how justice and equity could be ensured in the transition to a sustainable and green economy. “NDCs need to include justice-in-transition issue and should not ignore women’s role and participation in new emerging opportunities in energy transitions and women’s empowerment, specifically to enhance social acceptance. National capacity assessment in implementation is also a major gap in LT-LEDS,” she said.
Providing a country perspective, Mr. Vichet Ratha Khlok, NDC Partnership in-country Facilitator, General Secretariat of the National Council for Sustainable Development, Ministry of Environment, Cambodia, said that his country was focusing on poverty reduction and stable economy development, while addressing climate change on the principle of ‘Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities’. It is also strengthening existing institutions and increasing transparency in procurement for NDC implementation.
Ms. Anggi Putri Pertiwi, Planner, Directorate of Environmental Affairs, Ministry of National Development Planning, Government of Indonesia, said that in order to avoid the “Middle Income Trap” arising from the current economic crisis, Indonesia requires economic transformation to be its long-term strategy. By transforming into a green economy, Indonesia will have an economic structure that is more resilient to shocks, and can actively participate in global trade that pays attention to environmental sustainability issues. The economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic must be a momentum for Indonesia to transform into a more sustainable economy, as part of the implementation of a green and low-carbon economy, she said.