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Climate-Action Partnership to Help Transform Heavy Industry and Transport

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The Mission Possible Partnership, a new coalition formed to accelerate the decarbonization of global industries representing 30% of global emissions, launched today at the Davos Agenda.

Run by the World Economic Forum, Energy Transitions Commission, Rocky Mountain Institute, the We Mean Business Coalition, the Mission Possible Partnership aims to accelerate several pathways for decarbonizing heavy industry and transport by unifying the critical actors needed to influence and enable industry transformation at speed and scale.

The Partnership builds on the success of the Mission Possible Platform, which launched at the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit in 2019, and has grown from 30 companies in 2019 to 400 – who all are committed to working on concrete actions towards net-zero. The International Energy Agency will be a strategic partner for the Partnership, central to engagement with governments and bringing to bear its expertise on modelling and technology roadmaps.

The Partnership will help more industries mobilize resources, align across a greater number of organizations, and accelerate the Race to Zero. This initiative will help carbon-intensive sectors reach their targets and bring in the systemic change needed to succeed by providing a clear path to net zero emissions.

“The number of country commitments to net-zero emissions targets by 2050 has grown during 2020 and is significant,” said Christoph Wolff, Head of Mobility, World Economic Forum. “Public private cooperation across the transport and heavy industry sectors is crucial for the next phrase of action. The launch of the Mission Possible Partnership at the Davos Agenda will accelerate these efforts in the run-up to COP26 in November.”

“As we move into the decade of delivery, we must not only grow the number of actors committed to a resilient, zero carbon future, we must foster the radical collaboration needed to drive transformational change in every sector of the economy,” said Nigel Topping, UK High-Level Champion, COP26. “To achieve these goals requires truly transformational change, and demands leadership and action from across each sector. We are thrilled to be working hand in hand with the Mission Possible Partnership to drive this work forward in seven of the heaviest emitting sectors of the economy.”

The Partnership is centred on the idea that, while the Paris Agreement lays the groundwork for global cooperation, its focus on national targets will not generate the plans and solutions necessary to achieve efficient and effective transition strategies for global industries on its own. The most important missing piece of the global climate action architecture is an effort by sectors, complementing country-centric strategies with action from global industries to unlock technology and energy transformation. This is particularly important for heavy emitting industries.

The Mission Possible Partnership will be the delivery mechanism for Race to Zero Breakthroughs in hard-to-abate sectors. These are specific near-term tipping points for each sector of the global economy in the race to net zero emissions, being launched by COP26 President Alok Sharma and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry as part of the Davos Agenda.

In late 2021, the Partnership will aim to showcase net-zero agreement breakthroughs in shipping, aviation, and steel. Within three years, it plans to help companies complete climate action agreements in these sectors as well as trucking, chemicals, cement, and aluminium.

Together, these seven sectors comprise 30 percent of global emissions. Within five years, the Partnership aims for clear shifts in investment patterns across the seven sectors and will be pursuing net-zero climate action agreements in additional sectors, including potentially food and agriculture.

About the partnership

The Partnership is comprised of four core partners – World Economic Forum, the Energy Transitions Commission, Rocky Mountain Institute, the We Mean Business Coalition. The International Energy Agency will provide guidance and input on various aspects of the Partnership’s work, including engagement with governments and energy modelling. Initial funders include the Bezos Earth Fund and Breakthrough Energy.

The Partnership’s efforts will be strengthened by the expertise of its supporting partners, which rank among the world´s most influential organizations in industrial decarbonization, finance and policy development. These include the Center for Climate-Aligned Finance, Ceres, the Climate Champions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Global Maritime Forum, SYSTEMIQ, the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The seven platforms under formation include:

· Shipping – Getting to Zero Coalition – 157 companies to date are engaged to ensure the viability of zero-emission vessels along deep-sea trade routes by 2030 and build the infrastructure for scalable zero-carbon maritime energy. This coalition is spearheaded by the Global Maritime Forum in partnership with the World Economic Forum and the Friends of Ocean Action.

· Aviation – Clean Skies for Tomorrow – 80 companies are engaged in driving a transition to sustainable aviation fuels and industry decarbonization.

· Trucking – Road Freight Zero Coalition – 40 companies are engaged in defining pathways and solutions that accelerate the viability and deployment of zero emission fleets and infrastructure for heavy-duty trucking toward a 1.5° trajectory by 2030.

· Chemicals – Low-Carbon Emitting Technologies – 20 companies are engaged in accelerating the complex transition to low-carbon emitting technologies by addressing technology, regulatory, funding, and market challenges.

· Steel – Net-Zero Steel Initiative – 12 companies are engaged in shaping the policy, market and finance environment required to underpin the transition to net-zero steel.

· Aluminium – Aluminium for Climate – a regionally diverse group of 12 organizations, including some of the largest producers globally, are engaged on technology roadmaps and stimulating demand for low-carbon aluminium.

· Cement – Clean Cement Coalition – two major companies are engaged in developing clean cement standards, stimulating demand for cleaner products, and enlarging the circle of progressive companies committing to net-zero targets.

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Japan Launches Circular Economy Collaboration with WEF

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Achieving a circular economy will require transforming policy and business. It will also require a new approach to collaboration.

To that end, theMinistry of the Environment, Japan (MOEJ) and Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) announced the launch of the Partnership on Circular Economy at this week’s Japan Circular Economy Roundtable hosted by the World Economic Forum.

This new partnership will bring leaders in business and government together to accelerate the circular economy in Japan. In this public-private partnership, best practices in Japan will be aggregated and disseminated to broader stakeholders within the supply chain, including consumers domestically and internationally. The partnership is expected to evolve through collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s Circular Economy Initiative.

The partnership will prompt dialogue between the public and private sector to identify focus areas, barriers and next actions towards the circular transition. The Forum will help shape the strategy and approach going forward.

Japan’s transformation will set a key example for other business and policy leaders. The country is one of the largest generators of plastic packaging waste per capita around the globe, according to the U.N. Environment program.

The Japanese government’s newly announced partnership builds on other recent initiatives to address plastics waste, such as a plastic bags charge. This year, the government also released guidance for companies to help accelerate sustainable finance and a Roadmap for Bioplastics Introduction (to promote substitution of fossil-based plastics with sustainable materials), and has drafted a new bill aimed at advancing plastic resource circulation.

“Japan is now accelerating ‘Three Transitions’ towards: a decarbonized society, a circular economy, and a decentralized society to redesign the socioeconomic system,” said Shinjiro Koizumi, Minister of the Environment, Japan.

The Roundtable – presented in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Japan – was organized by the World Economic Forum’s Circular Economy Initiative. The event, held 2-3 March, featured two days of high-level discussions exploring trends, policies and leading practices to scale circular economy ambitions.

The Roundtable was kicked off by a public livestreamed session that included the following speakers: Shinjirō Koizumi, Minister of the Environment, Japan; Stientje van Veldhoven, Minister of Environment Netherlands; Børge Brende, President and CEO, World Economic Forum; Naoko Ishii, The University of Tokyo; Masayuki Waga, CEO Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation; Tsutomu Sugimori, Vice Chair Keidanren (Japan Business Federation).

Creating a circular economy for electronics was a key area of focus at the Roundtable. That sector kept economies running during the pandemic, but as World Economic Forum research has shown, it’s also the fastest-growing waste stream. Around 54 million metric tonnes of electric waste are generated globally, with countries such as Japan, the US and China among the top five contributors.

To create new ways to manage production and consumption, the event also showcased how countries in the ASEAN region and beyond are leveraging Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Forum initiative Scale360°, a scalable partnership model helping diverse collaborators drive circular innovation, was one of many solutions discussed.

Speakers also shared how new actions – aided by policy – were speeding the circular transition. “Government leaders are showing how new policies, collaborations and commitments can make a dramatic impact,” said Antonia Gawel, Head of Circular Economy & Innovation at the World Economic Forum. “Circularity is critical to achieving net-zero decarbonization and protecting the climate for future generations. Time is of the essence.”

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Lao PDR: New Project to Protect Landscapes and Enhance Livelihoods

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The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a US$57 million project to help Lao PDR promote sustainable forest management, improve protected area management, and enhance livelihoods opportunities in eight provinces across the country. Project funding comes from the World Bank’s International Development Association, with contributions from the Global Environment Facility and the Canada-World Bank Clean Energy and Forest Climate Facility.

The Lao Landscapes and Livelihoods Project will support economic recovery in light of the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by focusing on preservation of natural capital such as forests, biodiversity, water resources, soil, and land. The Project will help communities in over 600 villages and 25 forest areas to secure livelihoods and jobs from sustainably managed forests, including opportunities in timber and non-timber products, and nature-based tourism.  

“This project will be crucial to helping Lao PDR recover from the global coronavirus shock by protecting and enhancing its natural capital, and supporting the creation of green jobs in vulnerable communities,” said the World Bank Lao PDR Country Manager Nicola Pontara.

Despite enjoying sustained periods of high economic growth in the last three decades, Lao PDR has experienced a gradual deterioration of its natural capital, making vulnerable rural people more susceptible to floods and droughts while jeopardizing their access to food, fiber, fresh water and income.

The Government of Lao PDR will implement the project through the Department of Forestry at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. To create jobs and livelihoods and secure environmental benefits, the project will develop environmentally and socially sustainable partnerships among communities, government, nature-based-tourism companies, and forest plantations.

The Lao Landscapes and Livelihoods Project complements other partnerships between Laos and the World Bank on biodiversity protection, carbon emission reductions and nature-based tourism. It also supports the priorities of the government’s ninth National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2021-25 and the 2030 National Green Growth Strategy.

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Two-Thirds of Poorer Countries Are Cutting Education Budgets Due to COVID-19

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Children in Côte d'Ivoire wear face masks as they return to school after temporary closures due to COVID-19. © UNICEF/Frank Dejongh

Education budgets are not adjusting proportionately to the challenges brought about by COVID-19, especially in poorer countries.  Despite additional funding needs, two-thirds of low- and lower-middle-income countries have, in fact, cut their public education budgets since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the new joint World Bank – UNESCO Education Finance Watch (EFW)

In comparison, only one-third of upper-middle and high-income countries have reduced their budgets.  These budget cuts have been relatively small thus far, but there is a danger that future cuts will be larger, as the pandemic continues to take its economic toll, and fiscal positions worsen.  These differing trends imply a significant widening of the already large spending disparities seen between low- and high-income countries.

According to the new report, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2018-19, high-income countries were spending annually the equivalent of US$8,501 for every child or youth’s education compared to US$48 in low-income countries. COVID-19 is only widening this huge per-capita education spending gap between rich and poor countries.

EFW stresses that the education finance challenge is not only about mobilizing resources, but also about improving the effectiveness of funding. Unfortunately, recent increases in public education spending have been associated with relatively small improvements in education outcomes. Although access to education has improved, the learning poverty rate – the proportion of 10-year-olds unable to read a short, age-appropriate text – was 53 percent in low- and middle-income countries prior to COVID-19, compared to only 9 percent for high-income countries.  COVID-19 related school closures are likely to increase this 53 percent share to as much as 63 percent.

“This is a critical moment where countries need to recover the learning losses the pandemic is generating, invest in remedial education, and use this window of opportunity to build more effective, equitable, and resilient systems,” said Mamta Murthi, World Bank Vice President for Human Development.  “The learning poverty crisis that existed before COVID-19 is becoming even more severe, and we are also concerned about how unequal the impact is.  Countries and the international development community must invest more and invest better in education systems and strengthen the link between spending and learning and other human capital outcomes.”

EFW notes that global spending on education has increased over the last 10 years, but the signs are that the pandemic may interrupt this upward trend. Funding for education has grown most rapidly in low- and lower-middle-income countries, where the gaps between the funding needed to achieve the SDGs and current allocations are the widest. The deterioration in government finances over the medium-term suggests that without concerted efforts to prioritize education, the outlook for mobilizing the domestic resources required for education will worsen.

Aid for education has increased by 21 percent over the last 10 years. Disbursements had increased rapidly in the 2000s and fell between 2010 and 2014 in the aftermath of the great financial crisis. However, since 2014, aid to education has increased by 30 percent, reaching its highest recorded level of US$ 15.9 billion in 2019. However, fiscal constraints, other sectoral needs, and changes in student mobility patterns, suggest that external aid for education might fall at a time when it is needed most.    

“External financing is key to support the education opportunities of the world’s poorest,” said Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General at UNESCO. “Yet donor countries are likely – and some have already begun – to shift their budget away from aid to domestic priorities. Health and other emergencies are also competing for funds.  We foresee a challenging environment for countries reliant on education aid. UNESCO estimates that it may fall by US$ 2 billion from its peak in 2020 and not return to 2018 levels for another six years.” 

The EFW is a collaborative effort between the World Bank and the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report team.  It will be produced annually following the main release of spending data by UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics.  The EFW aims to draw together the best data available on all sources of education funding and monitor efforts to improve information on the levels and use of education funding.  However, good quality and timely information on government, household, and aid spending in education is not readily available in all countries.  This hinders planning and monitoring at a time when countries cannot afford any missteps.

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