By adopting the Paris Agreement on climate change, the international community pledged to assist the efforts of developing countries to strengthen their resilience and capacity to adapt to climate change, limit GHG emissions, and transition to a low-carbon economy.
Through various measures, the Government of Québec supports partnerships that make a tangible contribution to the sustainable development of Francophone countries most affected by climate change.
By Jean Lemire
During the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Government of Québec announced a set of international climate cooperation measures to benefit Francophone countries that are the most vulnerable and most exposed to the impacts of climate change.
These three measures, totaling CAD 25.5 million, are directly financed via revenue generated by the Québec government’s carbon market. Under the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), Québec, California and Ontario hold joint auctions for greenhouse gas (GHG) allowances, making this cross-border market the second largest cap-and-trade carbon market in the world.
One of Québec’s international climate cooperation measures consists of a CAD 6 million contribution to the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), operated by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). This action marks a first for a federated state. Additionally, together with our partners at the Francophonie Institute for Sustainable Development (IFDD) and the International Youth Offices of Québec (LOJIQ), we implemented the Initiative jeunesse de lutte contre les changements climatiques (Youth Climate Change Initiative), which seeks to strengthen the capacities of Francophone youth to help fight climate change through entrepreneurship and environmental education.
Furthermore, the International Climate Cooperation Program, which has a budget of CAD 18 million, was established to support the development of projects by Québec organizations that, in collaboration with one or more local organizations, aim to contribute to efforts to reduce GHG emissions or adapt to climate change in these countries, primarily through technology transfer and capacity building. This program also aims to support the implementation of the SDGs, specifically SDG 1 (no poverty), 7 (affordable and clean energy), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure) and 13 (climate action).
As Chair of the International Climate Cooperation Program’s steering committee, I was asked to collaborate with representatives from civil society, the private sector, and the research community to ensure that this program is providing tangible assistance to our local partners. In this regard, the first call for projects, launched in November 2016 on the occasion of the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in Marrakech, Morocco, was very well received, not only owing to the large number of organizations that submitted climate cooperation projects, but also with respect to the quality of the projects selected.
The International Climate Cooperation Program is currently supporting 14 projects resulting from the first call for applications, including the project led by Unisféra and its local partner, the Nubian Vault Association (Association la Voûte Nubienne, AVN), a West African organization that received the UNFCCC’s 2014 Momentum for Change Award.
While electricity production infrastructure in many African countries is already facing challenges to meet the current demand, the demand for energy will continue to increase due to the rise in average temperatures combined with economic and demographic growth.
Nubian vaults provide a response to the lack of solutions for housing that is adapted to climate change in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through this ancient construction technique, which originated in the upper Nile, low-carbon, modern, sturdy, comfortable and versatile buildings with vaulted roofs can be constructed at minimal cost using basic tools, local materials (mud bricks) and simple skills.
Under the project, 843 private and 57 community buildings will be constructed in Burkina Faso by 2020, which will reduce GHG emissions by 19,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq) over the buildings’ lifecycle. The project also provides for training 720 masons and apprentices. As a result, 5,000 people will benefit from living in Nubian vaults or, in the case of community buildings, making regular use of them. Unlike traditional houses, Nubian vaults do not require using wood as a building material. Therefore, they help reduce deforestation in regions that already have few trees. Additionally, Nubian vaults do not use sheet metal roofing, which is expensive, polluting, and unsuited to the climate since it provides poor thermal comfort. By promoting sustainable housing, this project also contributes to the implementation of SDG 11 on inclusive, safe and resilient human settlements.
The Unisféra and AVN initiative aptly illustrates Québec’s climate cooperation approach in that it is an innovative partnership focusing on green technology that is adapted to local contexts. Its goal is to create long-term benefits for the project through its integration into relevant national policies and its appropriation by local populations and organizations.
In broader terms, Québec’s approach is just one example of the various innovative initiatives by federated states and regions around the world. Together, we have a concrete role to play in achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change, whether through GHG reduction and adaptation or financing the fight against climate change.
The author of this guest article, Jean Lemire, is Québec Envoy for Climate Change, Northern and Arctic Issues.