Mitigation Update: Southeast Asian Forest, European Transport Emissions Increasing, Cities and Businesses Scale-up Action
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According to expert participants at a workshop in Paris, France, on 21 June, opportunities posed by solutions that cut across multiple energy end-use sectors are key to redefining climate ambition under the Paris Agreement's objective to keep global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and aiming at 1.5°C.

This Mitigation Update highlights recently-published information on emissions and solutions, as well as numerous events related to mitigation, in a variety of key sectors, such as forests, transport, cities, private companies and finance.

july_mitigation_update4 July 2016: According to expert participants at a workshop in Paris, France, on 21 June, opportunities posed by solutions that cut across multiple energy end-use sectors are key to redefining climate ambition under the Paris Agreement’s objective to keep global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and aiming at 1.5°C. This Mitigation Update highlights recently-published information on emissions and solutions, as well as numerous events related to mitigation, in a variety of key sectors, such as forests, transport, cities, private companies and finance.

In the Paris Agreement, adopted in December 2015, governments agreed on the need for global emissions to peak as soon as possible and to undertake rapid reductions thereafter in accordance with the best available science. They committed to achieving these goals through the submission of nationally determined contributions (NDCs). Furthermore, governments committed to take mitigation action as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts), and SDG 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all), which also relates to mitigation action.

The Paris workshop, organized by the International Energy Agency (IEA), brought together over 100 experts from national governments, businesses and industry, academia, international organizations and NGOs. Participants noted the need for new analysis and published research to support the aims of the Paris Agreement. Just as the 21 June workshop participants stressed, these data, experience and commitments must be brought together to give a whole picture of global action toward Paris Agreement commitments. In fact, the findings of the workshop, which examined both conventional and crosscutting energy end-use sectors, will inform the IEA in its scenario modeling for future World Energy Outlook (WEO) and Energy Technology Perspectives (ETP) publications. [IEA Press Release]

Forests in Southeast Asia

A study authored by researchers from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), a member of the CGIAR Consortium, and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), among others, finds that carbon emissions associated with forest and peatland fires burnt across maritime Southeast Asia in 2015 were at their highest since 1997. With dry conditions and delayed seasonal rains, the researchers estimated 884 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) were emitted, with 97% originating from Indonesia. The daily carbon emissions from September to October last year exceeded daily emissions of the EU over the same period, according to the study. [CIFOR Press Release] [Fire Carbon Emissions over Maritime Southeast Asia in 2015 Largest Since 1997]

Transport in Europe

The Partnership on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport (SLoCaT) is highlighting that data released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) underline that transport is “now Europe’s biggest climate problem.” According to the inventory, transport has surpassed the power sector as the highest emitter. While the data do not include international aviation and shipping, according to SLoCaT, the share of transport in the EU’s total net CO2 emissions reaches 31% when international aviation and shipping are counted. The European Commission is anticipated to release a transport decarbonization strategy on 20 July. [SLoCaT Press Release] [IISD RS Mitigation Update Including EEA’s GHG Inventory Release]

In a related publication, EEA describes ways Europe’s current carbon-dependent transport system can be shifted away from fossil fuels through improved city planning, technological development, and expanded deployment of alternative fuels. The report, ‘Signals 2016 – Towards Green and Smart Mobility,’ analyzes various aspects of the continent’s transport sector, including health effects, pollution, food miles, aviation and shipping. [EEA Press Release] [EEA Publication Webpage] [Signals 2016 – Towards Green and Smart Mobility]

Global Cities

Closely related to transport is the urban planning sector, around which a number of alliances and networks have formed, some with special focus on climate change. Two of these initiatives, the EU Covenant of Mayors and the Compact of Mayors, have launched a coalition that will join their forces around the ‘Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy.’ As the largest coalition of local governments and cities committed to climate action, the organizers indicate that the initiative will build on “the commitments of more than 7,100 cities from 119 countries and six continents, representing more than 600 million inhabitants, over 8% of the world’s population.” The fusion of the two alliances is intended to foster greater collaboration and merge platforms for recording data on cities’ climate and energy actions. [European Commission Press Release]

An example of one such action was Berlin’s vote on 23 June to divest its €750 million public pension fund from oil, coal and gas. According to ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the German capital is the seventh major Western city to make the move. Stockholm, Sweden, announced its divestment from fossil fuels on 15 June, following earlier commitments from: Paris, France; Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Norway; Seattle, Washington (US); Portland, Oregon (US); and Melbourne, Australia. [ICLEI Press Release]

Global Business

Cities are not the only ones uniting around alliances and initiatives for climate action. The private sector has launched, for example, RE100 (businesses committed to 100% renewable energy) and EP100 (businesses committed to doubling their energy productivity). Like-minded businesses descended on London, UK, on 28-29 June for the second Business and Climate Summit. The Summit, which was convened by partnerships representing over six million businesses from around the world, urged governments to take swift action on climate and ratify the Paris Agreement.

On the first day of the Summit, We Mean Business released a report titled, ‘The Business End of Climate Change,’ which, for the first time quantifies the so-called “Business Determined Contribution (BDC)” to climate action. The findings estimate that private sector commitments through five initiatives (including RE100 and EP100) will result in annual cuts of 3.7 billion metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions by 2030.

The second day, under the theme ‘Finance, Innovation and Policy for the Low Carbon Transition,’ highlighted that US$90 trillion needs to be invested in cities, land use and energy by 2030 to transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. Participants called for governments to translate their NDCs into “investment grade policy frameworks” and use carbon pricing to achieve emission reduction targets. [UNFCCC Press Release] [The Climate Group Press Release] [We Mean Business Press Release] [Business & Climate Summit Website] [The Business End of Climate Change]

Financial Mechanisms in Africa

On 13 June, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) launched the Economic Report on Africa 2016, titled ‘Greening Africa’s Industrialization.’ The report stresses the need to re-design growth strategies to achieve the SDGs and the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063. The report includes modalities for financing green industrialization, including direct access to global climate funds, reforming fossil fuel subsidies, and leveraging public institution finance to attract private investment. [UNECA Press Release] [UNECA Publication Webpage] [Economic Report on Africa 2016]

Two weeks after the report launch, on 28-30 June, government, business and civil society stakeholders gathered in Kigali, Rwanda, for the annual Africa Carbon Forum. Participants at the Forum highlighted that climate change is a development issue that threatens to drive 43 million Africans into poverty if left uncurbed. They focused on spurring climate investment through various financial opportunities, cooperative initiatives, and markets and mechanisms. [UNEP Press Release, 30 June] [UNEP Press Release, 28 June] [UNEP DTU Partnership Press Release] [UNFCCC Press Release] [Africa Carbon Forum Website]

One market mechanism under discussion at the Africa Carbon Forum was the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and ways to increase demand for credits generated by the CDM. In the lead-up to the Forum and concurrently with it, bodies of the CDM were meeting in Bonn, Germany. The 70th meeting of the Methodologies (“Meth”) Panel took place on 20-24 June, with members considering revisions to methodologies related to the baselines and monitoring of projects under the CDM. The Small-Scale Working Group met on 20-23 June, taking up joint work with the Meth Panel and considering/approving baseline and monitoring methodologies for small-scale projects. The Accreditation Panel took up six regular surveillance cases of designated operational entities (DOEs), two DOE performance assessments, and other issues related to DOEs during its 75th meeting on 28-30 June. It also took note of three notifications of voluntary withdrawal of accreditation of DOEs (partial and full). [CDM Meth Panel Webpage] [Small-Scale Working Group Webpage] [Accreditation Panel Webpage]

National Level Action

The International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV (measurement, reporting and verification), the UNFCCC Secretariat and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have been hosting and planning a number of workshops, dialogues and retreats that bring together stakeholders regionally or globally to discuss national efforts to implement NDCs. For instance, events in April and May for the Cluster Francophone and Anglophone African Regional Group looked at the intersection of nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) and NDCs. Two upcoming workshops in July for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Asia-Pacific will focus on NDC operationalization, while an annual Partnership retreat in August/September will consider the enhanced transparency framework under the Paris Agreement in terms of NDC implementation.

In addition, a global workshop on NDCs took place from 13-14 June, bringing together 100 participants from more than 40 countries in Brussels, Belgium, to share country experiences. Among the outcomes, participants stressed the need to integrate NDC implementation plans into national development planning and long-term strategies. Four regional dialogues are being planned to follow up on the workshop. [International Partnership on Mitigation and MRV Press Release]


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