Working together to address the climate crisis
November 14, 2022
For two weeks (November 7th–18th), several actors including governments, academia, private sector and civil society organizations/NGOs are in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt for the 27th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). The world hopes for decision and commitments that will secure deep emission cuts by 2030.
Nature and humanity’s very existence continue to hang in the balance with the unprecedented changing climate and weather extremities. According to the IPCC 6th Assessment Report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, “the extent and magnitude of climate change are larger than estimated in previous assessments”. The changing climate is causing increasingly adverse impacts on ecosystem structure and function including wildfires destroying forests and biodiversity; human health risks; infrastructure destruction; socio-economic impacts; and cultural disintegration. Meanwhile, human activities including practices in agriculture are still driving greenhouse gas emissions, and worsening atmospheric concentrations. A situation that is precarious for the survival of the future generations as scenarios show that global surface temperature will continue to rise and a warming of 1.5oC and 2oC will be exceeded during the 21st century if deep reductions in CO2 and other Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) are not achieved in the coming decades.
CoP 27 has been dubbed the African CoP and is expected to throw more focus on food systems and agriculture, including advancing the Koronivia joint work on Agriculture; and on climate finance especially for adaptation and loss and damage. In Egypt, countries are expected to come with updated and more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). While the NDCs are one way of working towards the world limiting warming to 1.5oC and staying well below 2oC temperature rise, Article 6.2 of the 2015 Paris Agreement presents a golden opportunity for collaborative engagements between countries to increase carbon finance flows to developing states and bolster implementation of mitigation actions with adaptation benefits. This is the spirit of the theme of COP27– “together for implementation”. Bilateral/cooperative agreements under Article 6.2 for the generation and transfer of Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes (ITMOs) through carbon markets are essential vehicles to meet the reductions in emissions (SDG 13).
Leveraging Carbon Finance
In Africa, there is a huge potential for greening the energy, waste and agriculture sectors, while generating ITMOs. According to the World Resources Institute, most human induced methane emissions, originate from 3 sectors – energy (35%), agriculture (40%) and waste (20%). Payments for generated ITMOs can potentially support resilience against climate shocks, extreme weather events, and natural variabilities. For instance, reducing methane from rice production through alternate wetting and drying technique, the first ITMO project in Africa, between Ghana and Swiss Governments facilitated by UNDP, allows farmers to practice efficient water management leading to reduced methane emissions. Payments for the avoided methane to be paid to farmers, will bolster their income levels and diversify their income sources, thereby strengthening their resilience. In addition, farmers will acquire enhanced capacity to grow rice in a changing climate where future water availability may dwindle and is uncertain.
Generating additional income through improved production, farming practices and approaches such as water use efficiency, climate smart agriculture, agroforestry, improved fertilizer use, helps increase resource integrity, creates healthier soils, ensures less input application, which translates either into more income from savings due to reduced input costs and/or from increased yields. Climate finance including carbon revenues that builds farm and farmer resilience is a fundamental support to addressing poverty as according to the FAO, “investment in agriculture is more effective in reducing poverty, particularly amongst the poorest people, than investment in non-agricultural sectors”.
Building resilience with risk insurance
In addition, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ghana is increasingly working with stakeholders in the insurance and risk finance sector for innovative, affordable and efficient agricultural risk insurance. For instance, extra income earned by farmers from the sale of ITMOs can be channeled into insurance to protect farmers against reduced/loss of yield due to climate change such as floods, drought, pest and disease outbreaks. Such insurance investments de-risk agricultural investments and build farmer resilience.
Embarking on sensitization and awareness raising to build understanding and trust of the role that insurance plays in strengthening resilience is a critical first step. UNDP therefore leverages on its convening power to build meaningful and effective partnerships with government, finance/insurance agencies, private sector, and other NGOs that work with farmers to accelerate impact.
Collectively, we can mitigate GHG emissions, and address climate change impacts by increasing carbon finance and risk insurance to support efforts towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While meeting the IPCC targets through focused mitigation actions including the use of ITMOs, it is critical that such carbon finance programmes adopt a portfolio approach that supports adaptation and resilience as primary objectives. We must work together to intentionally chart the pathway for climate resilient development and sustainable future.
By Saeed Abdul-Razak (PhD), Programme Analyst – Climate Action, Environment and Climate Cluster, UNDP Ghana
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