OPINION: Why do low emissions development strategies matter?

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Sam Bickersteth spoke at the opening of Peru’s second national climate change conference, Interclima, which is meeting together with the Low Emissions Development Strategies—Latin American and Caribbean (LEDS LAC) Platform this week in Lima, Peru.

The Government of Peru has just taken on the Presidency of the Conference of Parties (COP) of the UNFCCC, in anticipation of hosting COP20 in Lima next December. It is providing a strong sign of the seriousness of its intentions by hosting the second meeting of the Low Emissions Development Strategies Latin America and Caribbean (LEDS LAC) platform. By hosting this meeting within its own national forum, Interclima, it is linking national, regional and international learning and action effectively. Over the next two years, national action to create climate-resilient, low-emissions strategies that are bedded into widely-owned economic development plans will be a key driver for a good international agreement.

It is critical to ask the question: why do low emissions development strategies or LEDS matter? Science is the point of departure. The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the physical science of climate change—published in September—has provided the world with a carbon budget for the first time. This places the total amount of carbon dioxide equivalent (or CO2e) that human society can emit into the atmosphere at 1,000 gigatons, if we are to stay within safe limits of average global temperature rise below 2 degrees Centigrade. Assuming we all think and act as global citizens, then we only have half of that budget left to spend. But beyond the science there is the development challenge. Economic growth and poverty eradication are still essential. As Lord Nicholas Stern says, “The two defining challenges of our century are overcoming world poverty and managing climate change. If we fail on one, we fail on the other.”

Climate-resilient, low-emissions development strategies can contribute to meeting these twin challenges when they are integrated into national development plans and strategies. This is smart development because done well, it can give a country at a competitive advantage by making it better placed to make the necessary transition to a low carbon economy. Peru and other countries in the region are rising to the challenges of climate change but also seeing the opportunity of transforming their economies towards the low carbon models that will eventually be needed.

LEDS are Smart Development. When well designed, they can bring:

  • Sustained economic growth and high-quality jobs. In the United Kingdom, there are one million jobs in the green sector and the Confederation of British Industry has praised the green economy as providing an engine of growth in ‘trying economic times’.
  • Improved competitiveness, advancing innovation, and green technology adoption. Ethiopia’s Climate Resilient Green Economy Strategy aims to catapult the country to carbon- neutral, middle income status by 2025 and Kenya’s National Climate Change Action Plan proposes scaling up renewable energy technologies such as geothermal as a means to limiting power sector emissions.
  • Social inclusion and poverty reduction. Rwanda’s Green Growth and Climate Resilient Strategy has provided the frame for enhanced funding now flowing to community based projects through its national climate fund, FONERWA.
  • Sustainable natural resources management. Indonesia’s REDD+ readiness activities and forest moratorium are the backbone of its ambitious emissions reductions goal and National Action Planon Climate Change.
  • Cost-efficient greenhouse gas emission reduction; energy efficiency and security. In Mexico, LEDS are designed to yield 3 million new jobs and 5% GDP growth by 2030 while reducing emissions; in Peru, 73 mitigation actions have been validated and the co-benefits of discussed and prioritised, within the framework of the national Climate Change Plan.
  • Reduced vulnerability to climate impacts and natural disasters. Robust low carbon development will ensure resilience – in Panama and other countries mangrove restoration programmes (which sequester and store carbon) are critical elements in protecting livelihoods and business, for example, during storm surges.

LEDS GP has been successful in supporting these agendas through: providing regional platforms for countries to learn from one another via peer to peer learning; making expert knowledge accessible around the world; developing tools and resources for learning around how to do low carbon development; inspiring innovation; and nurturing the new generation of LEDS leaders.

LEDS are not about international negotiations but are nationally-led processes built on careful analysis and cross sectoral consensus. This is what the Government of Peru is leading in its ‘PlanCC’ (Climate Change Plan). PlanCC involves detailed research and consultations to establish the most appropriate mitigation pathways for Peru, and it is an illustration of the scale of the work to be done. However, strong and well-constructed national plans will be the backbone of an effective and ambitious global agreement on climate change. As host of next year’s UNFCCC COP, Peru is already demonstrating leadership in the region and this region to the rest of the world. CDKN will continue to support countries such as Peru that wish to lead national processes and engage positively on the global stage.

Watch Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Environment Minister of Peru and the next COP President, speak about his hopes for the Lima 2015 Climate Summit.

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This opinion piece was originally posted by: CDKN Global