Bangkok, September 6, 2019
Some of the most climate vulnerable countries in Asia-Pacific are on course to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet targets set out in the Paris Agreement, but the region needs rapid investment in clean renewable energy as a way to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
These were some of the key talking points at the Asia-Pacific Climate Week, one of the largest gatherings of government and civil society actors from across the region, held 2-6 September in Bangkok, Thailand.
UNDP’s Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Valerie Cliff, highlighted the importance of avoiding despondency and focusing on the solutions that can prevent runaway climate change at the opening of the NDC Dialogues, a set of discussions between governments and practitioners that took place on day’s one and two of the climate week.
“In the last year alone we have seen more than 800 government entities across 18 countries declare a climate emergency, millions of youth have attended school strikes and investors worth USD 34 trillion have called for urgent climate action” said Ms Cliff.
“Awareness is on the rise and we have the solutions. Now we need the political leadership to deliver a new round of climate targets that can meet the challenge at hand,” she added
Along with the other climate weeks that took place this year, this week was designed to raise awareness amongst the public and bring policymakers from the region together to discuss their specific climate targets. All of this, with the aim to raise ambition on climate action that can feed into the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit on 23 September in New York.
With 1,700 representatives from 59 countries in attendance across the whole of the climate week, participants deep-dived into some of the most challenging questions of our time: like how to divest from coal while trying to keep the lights on in hospitals and schools at the lowest possible cost.
“Climate action is development action, and UNDP is committed to working with its partners to support countries scale up ambition on both mitigation and adaptation, in line with efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Jaco Cilliers, Chief of Policy and Programmes at UNDP’s Bangkok Regional Hub.
Mr Cilliers closed the NDC Dialogues on the evening of Tuesday 3 September, by pointing out that we need to focus on transferring technology, finance and knowledge to the developing countries that need it.
“Currently, this is not happening at the speed or volume required,” he said.
These insights were drawn from the rich discussions that took place over the NDC Dialogues, an initiative jointly organised by UNDP and UNFCCC, of which this climate week featured the 21st NDC Dialogues of this series. This set of discussions were timed perfectly to have maximum impact ahead of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit.
Three prominent points emerged over the two days:
- Countries in the region really are doing what they can, within the boundaries of political and economic realities, to take effective action on reducing emissions and meeting their climate targets
- Many countries feel the financial and technological support offered to them through the Paris Agreement, and necessary to meet their conditional climate goals, is not reaching them as needed
- Small countries are doing big things. Bhutan is carbon negative. 10 out of the 11 Cook Islands that are inhabited are already 100% powered by renewable energy. Fiji has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050.
The third of 2019’s Regional Climate Weeks concluded at the United Nations in Bangkok on Friday 6 September.