The first-ever United Nations Global Sustainable Transport Conference concluded today in the Turkmen capital, with more than 50 countries endorsing the ‘Ashgabat Statement on Commitments and Policy Recommendations,’ with a view to supporting cleaner, greener transportation – from local transit systems to worldwide multimodal networks.
“The Conference has reinforced the importance of sustainable transport and has shown it is a shared global task,” said Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, at the closing ceremony.
“Sustainable transport solutions are key to leaving no one behind, securing prosperity, enabling access to services and protecting the environment,” concluded Mr. Wu, noting that “without sustainable transport, there will be no lasting progress on climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
Noting the many encouraging success stories delegates had shared at the two-day conference, Mr. Wu said more needed to be done, including mobilizing trillions of dollars in investments and implementing legal, regulatory and governance frameworks. He also underlined the need to continue and strengthen capacity-building to developing countries.
“We have identified areas for regional and international cooperation and shared far-reaching policy recommendations,” he said. “We have, collectively and individually, identified concrete actions to move the world towards the new and essential paradigm of sustainable transport. Looking ahead, we must use our shared understanding to advance sustainable transport for all, by delivering on our commitments, forging new alliances and transforming our policies.”
He added that policy decisions needed to meet the needs of all in a low-carbon manner, requiring integrating transport modes and tapping into technological opportunities to bring the fundamental, transformative changes.
Stakeholders endorse ‘Ashgabat Statement’
Concluding the two-day conference with the so-called ‘Ashgabat Statement,’ participants stressed the need to promote the integration of science, technology and innovation into sustainable transport systems by tapping into technological opportunities in the decades to come, in order to bring about fundamental, transformative changes to transport systems.
This, they said, can be achieved through the use of energy-efficient technology, as well as information and communications technology, as they called for strengthening capacity-building support to developing countries.
They also welcomed stakeholders who had developed and launched sustainable transport initiatives, and called on all stakeholders to continue to seek collaborative partnerships for new, innovative, sustainable transport paradigms.
Also during the closing ceremony, Igor Runov, UN Under-Secretary-General and Head of the International Road Transport Union, presented the summary of the Transport Business Forum, which had been held earlier in the day.
Three other events held today focused on transport safety, the needs of countries in special situations – mostly least developed countries – and avenues for financing sustainable transport.
“Sustainable transport is a challenge for all countries, but countries in special situations, including least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states, face particular obstacles,” said Gyan Chandra Acharya, UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative dealing with the needs of those countries (UN-OHRLLS), in his opening remarks to an event focused on sustainable transport and transit solutions in countries in special situations.
Developing countries face challenges in financing sustainable transport systems
Among the challenges highlighted by the panelists, and which, they acknowledged, must be addressed in order to achieve sustainable development in these countries, include high transport cost, restricted access to the sea, limited air service for passengers and cargo, and difficulties securing investments and partnerships.
“There are, altogether, about 1.1 billion people in these countries, so when we look at the global programmes, global solutions, as well as global development frameworks, we have to look at those countries if we want to leave no one behind, and make it inclusive of all,” noted Mr. Acharya, referring to the rallying call of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Conference, which opened yesterday, brought together key stakeholders from Governments, the UN system and other international organizations, the private sector, and civil society to engage in a dialogue that emphasizes the integrated and cross-cutting nature of sustainable transport and its multiple roles in supporting the achievement of the SDGs. All modes of transport – road, rail, aviation, ferry and maritime – were addressed.
Renewable energy investment in 2018 hit USD 288.9 billion
Global investment in renewable energy hit USD 288.9 billion in 2018, with the amount spent on new capacity far exceeding the financial backing for new fossil fuel power, according to new figures published today.
These numbers, produced by BloombergNEF (BNEF), are being published today as part of REN21’s Renewables 2019 Global Status Report.
The numbers show that while investment was 11 per cent down over the previous year, 2018 was the ninth successive year in which it exceeded USD 200 billion and the fifth successive year above USD 250 billion. The figure does not include hydropower above 50MW, which saw an additional USD 16 billion invested – also down on 2017, when USD 40 billion was invested.
The dip in investment in 2018 can be partly attributed to falling technology costs in solar photovoltaics, which meant that the required capacity could be secured at a lower cost, and a slowdown in solar power deployment in China.
However, globally, solar was still the largest focus of investment, with USD 139.7 billion in 2018, down 22 per cent. Wind power investment increased two per cent in 2018, to USD 134.1 billion. The other sectors lagged far behind, although investment in biomass and waste-to-energy increased 54 per cent, to USD 8.7 billion.
The figures compare the amount invested in new renewable power capacity, which was USD 272.3 billion globally in 2018 (excluding large hydro), with that in new coal- and gas-fired generating capacity, which was USD 95 billion.
China leads, Europe and developing countries rally
A geographical breakdown of the USD 288.9 billion figure for total renewable energy investment in 2018 shows that China led investment worldwide for the seventh successive year, at USD 91.2 billion. However, this was down 37 per cent from 2017’s record number, due to a number of factors including a mid-year change in the government’s feed-in tariff policy, which hit investment in solar power.
China also accounted for 32 per cent of the global total investment, followed by Europe at 21 per cent, the United States at 17 per cent, and Asia-Oceania (excluding China and India) at 15 per cent. Smaller shares were seen in India at 5 per cent, the Middle East and Africa at 5 per cent, the Americas (excluding Brazil and the United States) at 3 per cent and Brazil at 1 per cent.
If China is excluded, renewable energy investment in the developing world actually increased 6 per cent to USD 61.6 billion, a record high.
“When overall investment falls, it is easy to think we are moving backwards, but that is not the case,” Angus McCrone, Chief Editor at BloombergNEF, commented: “Renewable energy is getting less expensive and we are seeing a broadening of investment activity in wind and solar to more countries in Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Africa.”
Investment in Europe jumped 39 per cent to USD 61.2 billion, the highest level in two years, driven largely by large on- and off-shore wind investments.
In the United States, investment edged up 1 per cent to USD 48.5 billion, the highest level since 2011, also driven by an increase in wind power financing.
Investment in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding China and India) increased 6 per cent to USD 44.2 billion, the highest level in three years, while the Middle East and Africa saw investment leap 57 per cent to a record USD 15.4 billion. However, in the Americas (excluding Brazil and the United States), investment declined 23 per cent (excluding large hydropower) to USD 9.8 billion.
“It is reassuring to see investment growing in the US,” said Prof. Dr. Nils Stieglitz, President of Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, involved in the report, “Ironically, this renewables investment growth may in part be driven by projects rushing to qualify for the current tax-support scheme, which is due to expire in only a few years as chances for extension are currently quite low.”
A wealth of more detailed information on global investment in the financing of renewables in 2018 will be shared in the Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment report, to be released in September ahead of the Global Climate Action summit of the UN Secretary-General. That report has been published every year since 2007. this year’s edition is co-funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. It will feature a look back on a decade of renewable energy investment.
EU responses to climate change
Fighting climate change is a priority for the Parliament. Below you will find details of the solutions the EU and the Parliament are working on.
Limiting global warming: a matter of 2°C increase
Average global temperatures have risen significantly since the industrial revolution and the last decade (2008–2017) was the warmest decade on record. Of the 17 warmest years, 16 have occurred since 2000.
Data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service shows that 2018 was also one of the three warmest years on record for Europe. The majority of evidence indicates that this is due to the rise of greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity.
The average global temperature is today 0.85°C higher than at the end of the 19th century. Scientists consider an increase of 2°C compared to pre-industrialised levels as a threshold with dangerous and catastrophic consequences for climate and the environment.
This is why the international community agrees that global warming needs to stay well below a 2°C increase.
Why is an EU response important?
According to the European Environment Agency, the EU is the world’s third biggest greenhouse gases emitter after China and the US. The energy sector was responsible for 78% of EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2015. Common mitigation efforts are key as climate change affects all EU countries, even if not in the same way.
The Mediterranean region can
expect more heat extremes and less rain, while countries in the continental
region face higher risk of river floods
and forest fires.
EU efforts are paying off. In 2008, the EU set the target to cut emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels by 2020. It is well on track to reach this goal: in 2015 the level of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU represented a decrease of 22% compared with 1990 levels.
The EU and international climate policy
The EU is a key player in UN
climate negotiations. In 2015,
it ratified the Paris Agreement, the first universal agreement to combat
climate change. Its goal is to mitigate climate change by maintaining the
increase in global temperature at 1.5°C compared to pre-industrialised times.
Under the Paris Agreement, the EU committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. It has put several measures in place to reach this target.
Cutting greenhouse gas
The EU has put in place different types of mechanisms depending on the sector.
To cut emissions from power
stations and industry, the EU has put into place the first major carbon
market. With the Emissions Trading System (ETS), companies have to buy
permits to emit CO2, so the less they pollute, the less they pay. This system
covers 45% of total EU greenhouse gas emissions.
For other sectors such as construction or agriculture, reductions will be achieved through agreed national emissions targets, which are calculated, based on countries’ gross domestic product per capita.
Regarding road transport, in
early 2019, the European Parliament backed legislations to reduce CO2 emissions
by 37.5% for new cars, 31% for vans and 30% for new trucks by 2030
The EU also wants to use the CO2 absorption power of forests to fight climate change. In 2017 MEPs voted in favour of a regulation to prevent emissions resulting from deforestation and change of land use.
Addressing the energy challenge
The EU also fights climate
change with a new clean energy policy adopted by the Parliament in 2018. The
focus is on increasing the share of renewable energy consumed to 32% by 2030
and creating the possibility for people to produce their own green energy.
In addition the EU wants to improve energy efficiency 32.5% by 2030 and adopted legislation on buildings and household appliances.
EU funding for climate
Climate mitigation and adaptation goals are integrated into the EU’s main spending programmes. The EU agreed to make at least 20% of EU expenditure climate-related in 2014-2020, including the €3.4 billion LIFE environment and action programme.
Clean Energy at Forefront of Fight Against Climate Change in Asia and Pacific
The advancement of affordable and reliable clean energy is not only at the forefront of Asia and the Pacific’s development progress, it is also at the heart of the region’s development of resilient infrastructure and fight against climate change, participants at the Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) 2019 heard today.
Co-hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United States Agency for International Development, and the Korea Energy Agency, with the support of the International Energy Agency as the Knowledge Partner, ACEF 2019 is being held from 18–21 June under the theme “Partnering for Impact.” In line with this theme, the event is highlighting the need to focus on collaborative partnerships, ideas, and efforts that have market potential, with the goal of delivering tangible clean energy impact across the Asia and Pacific region.
Some 1,300 people will attend the event, including many from the private sector involved in clean energy development, as well as academicians, officials from governments, and representatives from nongovernment organizations and multilateral development banks. ACEF began in 2006 as an annual event to provide a platform for discussion and collaboration in promoting clean energy in Asia and the Pacific.
ADB President Mr. Takehiko Nakao participated in the opening panel discussion featuring Co-founder and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute Mr. Amory Lovins and Global Strategic Development Advisor and Member of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment Ms. Fiza Farhan.
“A sustainable and secure energy supply remains essential as more than 350 million people still lack access to electricity in our developing member countries (DMCs). It is also a key part of the fight against climate change,” said Mr. Nakao. “People around the world are demanding affordable energy, clean air, and a more responsible approach to the environment. ACEF is a leading event in Asia and the Pacific that enables our DMCs and other participants to share their experiences and innovative ways to meet these critical demands.”
Through Strategy 2030, ADB has committed at least 75% of its operations to support climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts by 2030. Climate finance from ADB’s own resources will reach $80 billion for the period 2019–2030. Based on historical trends, ADB’s lending, equity, grants, and programs in support of renewable and energy efficiency could contribute significantly to this target.
ADB has also affirmed its commitment to advanced technologies in sustainable energy by launching its first innovation technology challenge, which will invite technology providers to submit proposals for grants from the High-Level Technology Fund which is supported by the Government of Japan to address energy related development challenges. This new modality aims to build partnerships with technology providers and accelerate innovative technology development and deployment in DMCs.
ACEF 2019 features five thematic tracks based on key elements of Strategy 2030: energy and livable cities; energy and water sustainability; energy and rural poverty alleviation; energy and innovative finance; and clean energy technologies. There will be 21 workshops focusing on a range of topics, including radical energy efficiency, hydro mini-grids, electric vehicles, the empowerment of women in the energy sector, renewable energy systems, the future of cooling, and the food–energy–water nexus.
ACEF 2019 will be limiting its carbon footprint by purchasing carbon credits to offset the travel related emissions of all participants. The event will also be paperless, with all program materials to be made exclusively available on ACEF’s website and mobile app.
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