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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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Climate Finance: Climate Actions at Center of Development and Recovery

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) called access to climate finance a key priority for Asia and the Pacific as governments design and implement a green and resilient recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Speaking at the United Kingdom Climate and Development Ministerial—one of the premier events leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in November—ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said expanding access to finance is critical if developing economies in Asia and the Pacific are to meet their Paris Agreement goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.

“We can no longer take a business-as-usual approach to climate change. We need to put ambitious climate actions at the center of development,” Mr. Asakawa said. “ADB is committed to supporting its developing member countries through finance, knowledge, and collaboration with other development partners, as they scale up climate actions and push for an ambitious outcome at COP 26 and beyond.”

ADB is using a three-pronged strategy to expand access to finance for its developing members as they step up their response to the impacts of climate change.

First, ADB has an ambitious corporate target to ensure 75% of the total number of its committed operations support climate change mitigation and adaptation by the end of the decade, with climate finance from ADB’s own resources to reach $80 billion cumulatively between 2019 and 2030. ADB has also adopted explicit climate targets under its Asian Development Fund (ADF), which provides grant financing to its poorest members. ADF 13, which covers the period of 2021–2024, will support climate mitigation and adaption in 35% of its operations by volume and 65% of its total number of projects by 2024.

Second, ADB is enhancing support for adaptation and resilience that goes beyond climate proofing physical infrastructure to promote strong integration of ecological, social, institutional, and financial aspects of resilience into ADB’s investments.

Third, ADB is increasing its focus on supporting the poorest and most vulnerable communities in its developing member countries by working with the United Kingdom, the Nordic Development Fund, and the Green Climate Fund on a community resilience program to scale up the quantity and quality of climate adaptation finance in support of local climate adaptation actions.

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Improving Transport Connectivity in Central Asia Requires a Coherent Approach

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The combination of infrastructure and logistics improvements, reduction in border delays and tariffs, and harmonized standards across countries could have a significant positive impact on Central Asian economies, said experts during an online regional briefing “Connectivity in Central Asia: Challenges and Opportunities” hosted by the World Bank.

Studies show that improved transport corridors generate economic development around them. Better road accessibility also allows more people to have access to jobs, education, healthcare, and opportunities, leading to poverty reduction.

“Connectivity is a complex issue and has wide-ranging impacts, affecting businesses, consumers, trade, logistics, economic growth and a country’s overall development,” said Jean-François Marteau, World Bank Country Manager for Kazakhstan. “In Kazakhstan, our analysis shows a clear link between investments in infrastructure and the level of the gross regional product of the oblasts.”

Countries in Central Asia are some of the least connected economies in the world, with the region’s connectivity indicator averaging below 60 percent in terms of the ratio of access to the global GDP – the lowest on the spectrum. The cost to import and export from or to Central Asia remains high, undermining the competitiveness of Central Asian products abroad and resulting in expensive imported goods. For example, the cost of shipping a container from any of the Central Asian countries to Shanghai is five times more expensive than from Poland or Turkey.

“Countries in Central Asia are yet to realize the enormous potential of internal and external trade, and the key here is improving transport connectivity in a holistic way,” said Antonio Nunez, Program Leader for Infrastructure at the World Bank Central Asia. “We see significant returns on investments when they are combined with other improvements in reducing delays and trade tariffs. These measures together could boost the regional GDP by about 15 percent.”

Connectivity within countries in Central Asia is also limited with most areas in the countries suffering from insufficient infrastructure and expensive services, limiting access to services, activities, and jobs, and hindering the tourism potential.

In the past two decades, Central Asian countries invested heavily in improving infrastructure; however, the region still lags behind middle-income countries in terms of both investing and maintaining the infrastructure. Central Asia ranks low on key trade indicators, such as the number of days to clear imports and exports and the Logistics Performance Index.

Despite some recent progress, the latter has either remained at the same level or declined compared with 2010 for all Central Asian countries. According to CAREC data, investing in corridors has paid off in saved travel time due to higher speeds. However, these time savings are often lost at the borders due to inefficient procedures and capacity constraints.

Key challenges in improving connectivity in Central Asia include tackling the low productivity of the state-owned enterprises that dominate the transport sectors in the region, harmonizing the different standards, improving infrastructure quality at local, national, and regional levels, as well as improving governance and efficiency.

“Over the years, the region has launched or become part of numerous connectivity initiatives that vary across types of infrastructure and geographical scope. What is needed now is for the countries to prioritize the connectivity initiatives that work best for their economies,” said Lilia Burunciuc, World Bank Regional Director for Central Asia. “We at the World Bank will continue supporting Central Asia in understanding and improving connectivity through our advice as well as investments, which in the last 10 years have reached over $5 billion in this sector.”

Speakers underlined the importance of greener, more sustainable and smarter transport solutions that are integrated with urban planning to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality management systems and reduce air pollution. Globally, transport accounts for a quarter of energy-related GHG emissions. In the Central Asian capitals and larger cities, transport generates particulate emissions that exceed the WHO maximum levels, leading to various diseases and premature deaths.

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Political and Security Uncertainty Slow Down Afghanistan’s Economic Recovery

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 Afghanistan faces a sluggish economic recovery from COVID-19 amid continued political uncertainties and possible decline in international aid, says the World Bank in its latest country update. 

Released today, Setting Course to Recovery shows that robust agricultural growth has partially buoyed Afghanistan’s economy, which shrunk by around two percent in 2020—a smaller contraction than previous estimates. However, lockdowns, weak investment, and trade disruptions have hit hard services and industries, increasing hardship and unemployment in cities.

Growth is expected to reach one percent in 2021 and top around three percent in 2022 as the COVID-19 crisis fades. Per capita incomes are unlikely to recover to pre-COVID levels until 2025 due to fast population growth.

“The current political and security uncertainties have created serious hurdles to Afghanistan’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. A slower pace of recovery means higher unemployment, lower government revenues, and – ultimately – more difficult living conditions for Afghans,” said Henry Kerali, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan.

A full recovery will be challenging as many firms have closed and jobs were lost. Private sector confidence has weakened amid difficult security conditions, uncertainty about the outcome of the ongoing peace talks, the possible withdrawal of international troops, and potential sharp declines in future international aid support. Droughts are expected in 2021 and will likely reduce agricultural activity, further weakening growth prospects.

The report emphasizes that a strong and sustainable partnership between the Afghan government and its international partners is key to driving recovery and restoring private sector confidence. In that effort, the government needs to accelerate reforms to improve governance, fight corruption, mobilize revenue, and boost business. Simultaneously, donors can support private sector confidence through clearer multi-year aid commitments and by defining measurable priority reforms that condition continued grant support. 

The Afghanistan Development Update is a companion piece to the South Asia Economic Focus, a twice-a-year World Bank report that examines economic developments and prospects in the South Asia region and analyzes policy challenges faced by countries. The Spring 2021 edition titled “South Asia Vaccinates,” launched on March 31, 2021, shows that economic activity in South Asia is bouncing back, but growth is uneven, recovery remains fragile, and the economic outlook is precarious. The report also focuses on the different dimensions of vaccine deployment and provides a cost-benefit analysis of vaccination in the region.

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