Mitigation Update: G20, EU and Indonesia Keep Paris Agreement Momentum
UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
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A few weeks after the close of the UN Climate Conference in Marrakech, the G20 Presidency, the EU and Indonesia have made major announcements for mitigation action.

Germany, as the incoming G20 President, has indicated that one of the priorities of the 2017 G20 Summit will be better linkages between climate and energy policy.

The EU Commission has announced a comprehensive package of measures for a consumer-centered energy transition, and the Indonesian President declared a moratorium on all activities that damage the hydrological functions of peatlands, to curb emissions from peat fires.

7 December 2016: According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), during the month of November, average Arctic sea ice extent was the lowest on the satellite record, and Antarctic sea ice extent quickly declined, also setting a record low for the month. 

As climate continues to change at an increasing pace, some countries and group of countries made announcements that will contribute to keeping the momentum that had allowed the Paris Agreement to come into force within less than a year, including with implementation of accelerated action on mitigation. [WMO Press Release]

The G20 will aim to strengthen the link between climate and energy policy, and provide a reliable investment climate to intensify activities and improve the management of climate risks.

Germany, who will assume the Presidency of the Group of 20 (G20) in 2017, has released a policy paper on the G20 agenda that lists climate action as one of the priorities for the G20 in the coming year. The paper states that “the G 20 wishes to make headway on ambitious implementation [of the Paris Agreement] and support third countries in doing so.” According to the document, the G20 will aim to strengthen the link between climate and energy policy, and provide a reliable investment climate to intensify activities and improve the management of climate risks. The focus of the G20 discussions on this issue will be on fostering “appropriate political frameworks, financing instruments and economic incentives for investments in climate resilient infrastructure and to boost technological innovations.”

The policy paper outlines three overall aims for the 2017 G20 Summit: building resilience; improving sustainability; and assuming responsibility. “Protecting the climate and advancing sustainable energy supply” is the first priority for improving sustainability along with: progress in Agenda 2030 implementation; seizing the opportunities of digital technology; promoting health; and empowering women.

At the same time, the German Government also announced that it will deepen its collaboration with the World Bank on three programmes aimed to support climate action: the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Partnership, which supports developing countries in implementing their NDCs; the Climate Risk Insurance Initiative (InsuResilience), which helps countries already affected by climate change to cope with the consequences of increased storms, droughts and other climate change impacts; and the forest Carbon Partnership, which provides incentives for forest conservation. [UNFCCC Press Release][Policy Paper: Priorities of the 2017 G 20 Summit] [Press Release of the German Federal Government]

With regard to energy efficiency, the Commission proposes a binding EU-wide target to improve energy efficiency by 30% by 2030,compared to 2005 levels, together with changes to the Energy Efficiency Directive, the Energy Performance and Buildings Directive, the EU policy on Ecodesign and Labelling, and other instruments.

Another group of countries, namely the EU, also indicated its intent to move climate mitigation forward, in particular in the energy sector. On 30 November 2016, the EU Commission presented a package of proposals for a consumer-centered clean energy transition titled ‘Clean Energy for All Europeans.’ The package introduces new targets and proposes changes to existing EU directives in five areas: energy efficiency; renewable energy; electricity market design; electricity security; and governance for the European Energy Union.

With regard to energy efficiency, the Commission proposes a binding EU-wide target to improve energy efficiency by 30% by 2030,compared to 2005 levels, together with changes to the Energy Efficiency Directive, the Energy Performance and Buildings Directive, the EU policy on Ecodesign and Labelling, and other instruments. The proposed changes to the Energy Efficiency Directive aim to improve: energy efficiency in buildings; energy performance of products; the provision of energy-related information to consumers; and financing for energy efficiency in “smart” buildings. The proposed changes to the Renewable Energy Directive aim to: improve the enabling framework for further deployment of renewable electricity generation; mainstream renewables in the heating and cooling sector; decarbonize and diversify the transport sector; empower and inform consumers; and strengthen EU sustainability criteria for bioenergy.

In order to empower consumers and stakeholder groups to play a stronger role in the EU electricity market, the Commission plans to strengthen the rights of individuals and communities to generate and sell their own electricity. This role will be supported by better access to information and energy management tools, such as precise electricity bills, access to free energy comparison tools, facilitated switching between energy providers, smart meters, and access to demand response mechanisms for pricing and remuneration.

The proposals for the ‘New Governance of the Energy Union’ build on the EU Council’s Decision in 2014 to develop a reliable and transparent governance system for a European Energy Union. The Commission proposes a regulation that aims to provide a legislative foundation that can be complemented by administrative and other non-legislative measures as needed.

According to the Commission’s press release, the measures are expected to mobilize up to up to €177 billion per year from 2021 onward, which could generate up to a 1% increase in GDP over the next decade and create 900,000 new jobs.

The EEA study shows that progress in the share of renewable energy in the transport sector is insufficient to date and, overall, additional efforts will be needed to achieve the EU’s target to obtain at least 27% of energy from renewable sources by 2030 and in view of its long term decarbonization objectives for 2050.

The announcement coincided with the release of the last chapters of the report ‘Trends and projections in Europe 2016 – Tracking progress towards Europe’s climate and energy targets’ released annually by the European Environment Agency (EEA), including the chapters on progress towards the EU’s targets on renewable energy and energy efficiency. On renewable energy the report finds that members States are on track towards meeting the EU’s target to obtain 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, compared to 2005 levels. The study also shows that progress in the share of renewable energy in the transport sector is insufficient to date and, overall, additional efforts will be needed to achieve the EU’s target to obtain at least 27% of energy from renewable sources by 2030 and in view of its long term decarbonization objectives for 2050.

Similarly, the chapter on energy efficiency finds that EU members are on track to achieve the target of reducing energy demand by 20% by 2020 compared to 2005 levels, noting that energy demand was lower in past years due to slower economic development. If economic growth accelerates again, the EEA underlines that further efforts will be necessary to ensure that energy efficiency continues to improve at a sufficient rate to offset growth in net energy demand. [EU Commission Press Release and Links to Further Information] [EU Commission Technical Memo on the revised Renewable Energy Directive] [EU Commission Technical Memo: The New Energy Efficiency Measures] [EU Commission Technical Memo: The Electricity Market Design] [EU Commission Technical Memo: New Energy Union Governance to Deliver Common Goals] [EEA Press Release] [Trends and Projections in Europe 2016 – Tracking Progress Towards Europe’s Climate and Energy Targets]

On the other side of the globe, Indonesia also announced significant mitigation action, but in the forest sector. The Government aims to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfires and protecting peatlands. Peatlands are the largest terrestrial organic carbon stock in the world. According to the UN Environment Programme (UN Environment of UNEP), the draining of peatlands, which leads to the release of greenhouse gases (GHGs) through the decomposition of organic materials and increases the likelihood of catastrophic wildfires, leads to significant greenhouse gas (GHG) release estimated to make up 5% of global anthropogenic emissions. To address this threat, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo announced a moratorium on all activities that damage the hydrological functions of peatlands on 5 December 2016. The moratorium is not only expected to reduce GHG emissions, but to also generate health benefits and avoid economic losses caused by peatfires which have been estimated to have affected 43 million people and caused damage of US$16.1 billion in 2015 alone.

The announcement was welcomed by UN Environment, the World Resources Institute (WRI) and other organizations. UN Environment Executive Director Eric Solheim underlined that the agreement “has the potential to deliver huge health benefits for the Indonesian people, protect the country’s incredible environment and deliver one of the biggest commitments yet to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.” In a press release, WRI estimates that the climate benefits of the revision of Indonesia’s Government Regulation on peatlands (Government Regulation No. 71/2014) through avoided emissions and carbon removals could equal 5.5-8.8 Gt of CO2EQ. [UNEP Press Release] [WRI Press Release]

Illustrating the need to address deforestation risk, the CDP has released a report that finds that nearly a quarter (24%) of the revenues of various global companies depend upon four deforestation-linked commodities, namely cattle products, palm oil, soy and timber products. The CDP report, titled ‘Revenue at risk: Why addressing deforestation is critical to business success,’ estimates that as much as US$906 billion in annual turnover could be at risk. [CDP Press Release] [Revenue at Risk: Why Addressing Deforestation is Critical to Business Success]

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