Turkish environment minister touts ‘Climate Resilient Cities’

Turkish environment minister touts ‘Climate Resilient Cities’

Turkish environment minister touts ‘Climate Resilient Cities’ at G20 meeting 

Murat Kurum says integrated plus harmonious policies, strategies needed during environment ministers session

Turkey’s environment and urbanization minister praised “Climate Resilient Cities” on Friday during an address to a high-level G20 meeting.

Speaking at the Cities and Climate Action session, Murat Kurum defined climate resilient cities as those that use natural resources effectively, ensure the balance between production and consumption and develop and implement participatory policies.

Kurum was in Naples, Italy to attend a meeting of environment and energy ministers from the Group of 20.

He said for these kinds of cities, integrated plus harmonious policies and strategies are needed.

Emphasizing that in addition to increasing the resilience of cities, durable infrastructure applications are one of the important issues for adaptation to climate change at the local level, Kurum said it is extremely important to accelerate durable infrastructure investments and to use resources efficiently.

Noting that the transformation of cities should be placed at the top of priorities to be successful in combating climate change, Kurum said: “As Turkey, we know that determination in this matter is important to be successful. We are taking steps to ensure the highest level of cooperation on a national and local scale.”

Turkey is expanding its smart city and zero waste practices with regional and local action plans that were started in the Black Sea region, said Kurum.

“As the Ministry, we have accelerated our efforts to reduce energy consumption in our buildings,” he added.

“We carry out all our construction activities with this sensitivity, in our 2.5 million houses we have built so far and 300,000 urban transformation houses that are currently underway,” he said.

Kurum added that Turkey chooses natural materials, install solar energy systems and implement systems that produce their own electricity in all of its urban transformation projects, social housing and public buildings.

Published on Yani Safak News

Carbon emissions to reach record levels in 2023

Carbon emissions to reach record levels in 2023


Carbon emissions to reach record levels in 2023 as stimulus spending fails to match net-zero ambition says IEA executive director Fatih Birol. Would the man nevertheless be heard at the oncoming COP 26 of Glasgow?

The picture above is for illustration and is of the Middle East in 24.

Carbon emissions to reach record levels in 2023 as stimulus spending fails to match net-zero ambition

By: Terence Creamer, CREAMER MEDIA EDITOR

Carbon emissions to reach record levels in 2023
Fatih Birol

The financial resources allocated by governments globally to clean-energy measures in response to the Covid-19 crisis currently represent only 2% of the $16-trillion in total fiscal support set aside for economic stimulus, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) new Sustainable Recovery Tracker shows.

The $380-billion announced to support clean-energy actions as of the end of the second quarter of 2021 is set to be supplemented by an additional $350-billion a year between 2021 and 2023.

The IEA warns that such spending will fall well short of what is required to meet global climate goals and is expected to result in a surge in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The IEA calculates these allocations to represent only 35% of what is required to meet the Sustainable Recovery Plan outlined in its recent special report, titled ‘Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector’.

The economic recovery measures announced to date would also result in CO2 emissions climbing to record levels in 2023 and continuing to rise thereafter.

While the CO2 trajectory is 800-million tonnes lower in 2023 than it would have been without any sustainable recovery efforts, it is still 3 500-million tonnes above the pathway set out in the Net Zero by 2050 report, which recommended $1-trillion of spending globally on clean-energy measures in recovery plans.

“Since the Covid-19 crisis erupted, many governments may have talked about the importance of building back better for a cleaner future, but many of them are yet to put their money where their mouth is,” IEA executive director Fatih Birol said in a statement.

“Not only is clean energy investment still far from what’s needed to put the world on a path to reaching net-zero emissions by mid-century, it’s not even enough to prevent global emissions from surging to a new record,” he warned.

The IEA found that governments have mobilised $16-trillion in fiscal support throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, most of it focused on emergency financial relief for households and firms.

Based on an analysis of over 800 policy measures across more than 50 countries, the tracker shows that government spending for energy-related sustainable recovery measures has been channelled mostly through programmes that already exist, such as energy efficiency grants, public procurement, utility plans and support for electric transport options.

In addition, most of this spending is in G20 economies, with recovery measures announced to date in advanced economies expected to meet 60% of the investment needs set out for these economies in the Sustainable Recovery Plan.

In emerging and developing economies this share falls to 20%, where many countries have focussed their more limited fiscal leeway primarily on emergency health and economic measures.

The tracker shows that, while advanced economies have earmarked about $76-billion a year in government spending from 2021 to 2023 for clean energy, emerging and developing economy governments have earmarked only $8-billion yearly over the same period.

A report published in March by the Global Recovery Observatory, an initiative of Oxford University’s Economic Recovery Project and the United Nations Environment Programme, also concluded that recovery spending was falling short of nations’ commitments to a sustainable recovery.

The analysis concluded that only 18% of recovery spending announced to the end of February could be considered ‘green’ and that this spending was mostly accounted for by a small group of high-income countries.

It also concluded that global green spending, to date, had been incommensurate with the scale of the ongoing environmental crises of climate change, nature loss and pollution. 

Can net-zero carbon emission targets be met

Can net-zero carbon emission targets be met

Can net-zero carbon emission targets be met without crashing the economy? wondered Cornelia Meyer in her article.

Can net-zero carbon emission targets be met

July 09, 2021

  • The campaign for net-zero emissions by 2050 is gaining momentum ahead of COP26 in November
  • Divestment of assets may burnish image of oil companies, but will not lead to desired decarbonization

BERN, Switzerland: Global warming was on the international agenda long before the UN Framework Conference on Climate Change produced the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, widely seen as a landmark for the environmental movement. But it was the Paris Agreement, signed by 196 parties at COP21 in December 2015, that promised to be the game-changer.

The agreement stipulated that any rise in temperatures by the end of the century must be limited to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. Scientists believe that in order to achieve this the world must reach net-zero emissions by 2050, which necessitates a 45-percent carbon-emissions reduction between 2010 and 2030.

According to the World Resources Institute, 59 countries, which between them are responsible for 54 percent of global emissions, have committed to binding net-zero targets. The UAE is reportedly considering its own net-zero goal by 2050, which would make it the first OPEC state to do so.

Can net-zero carbon emission targets be met

China, the world’s biggest CO2 emitter, has pushed back its net-zero deadline to 2060, as has its neighbor Kazakhstan. Russia and India, together responsible for 11.5 percent of global CO2 emissions, have yet to make any commitment.

There is, nevertheless, considerable momentum ahead of the COP26 summit in Glasgow this November. The majority of the countries that so far have committed to net-zero targets did so in 2020. The US followed suit in 2021.

Countries and multilateral entities such as the EU have the legislative power to drive change. But if net-zero targets are to be met, civil society plays a significant role.

Greta Thunberg is a case in point. The Swedish activist’s school strikes galvanized young people around the world and influenced the political agenda of many countries. So much so that parties have had to sign up to the green agenda in order to garner votes.

However, it is undeniable that the required changes will permeate every aspect of our lives. Action is needed to eliminate coal-fired power stations; install more renewable energy sources; retrofit buildings; decarbonize cement, plastics, aviation and shipping; expand public transport networks; and shift road traffic to electric vehicles. The list goes on.

Can net-zero carbon emission targets be met
A firefighter battles the flame in a forest on the slopes of the Troodos mountain chain, as a giant fire rages on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, during the night of July 3, 2021. (AFP/Fil

All of the above will require huge investment. Indeed, the US intends to plough a good proportion of its post-pandemic infrastructure spending into green finance.

In the GCC, Saudi Arabia is leading the way with the Saudi and Middle East Green initiatives, which aim to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent with the help of clean hydrocarbon technologies and by planting 50 billion trees, including 10 billion in the Kingdom.

These steps were recently acknowledged by John Kerry, the US climate envoy, who had high praise for Riyadh’s plan to invest $5 billion in the world’s largest green hydrogen plant in NEOM — the smart city under construction on the Red Sea coast.

The EU’s Green Deal will similarly be financed by €600 billion from its Next Generation pandemic-recovery plan and the European Commission’s seven-year budget. The plan is aggressive in setting out how to decarbonize the economy. Given its environmental dimension, the Green Deal’s carbon border adjustment mechanism has the potential to revolutionize tariffs worldwide.

The price of carbon may also rise by 50 percent to €85 per ton by 2030. This is a step in the right direction, but carbon pricing will only be truly effective if it is applied globally. In which case it can become a mechanism for directing actions and allocating investments.

This is the story for rich nations with the funds and technology needed to implement rapid change. But what about the developing world, which faces significant climate threats but has limited means to adapt?

The Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Green Initiative obliged wealthy nations to fund climate-adaptation costs in developing countries. The Paris Agreements’ Green Climate Fund, in particular, was groundbreaking in this respect.

However, Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, has had to call on rich nations to meet their $100 billion-a-year pledge to fund mitigation and adaptation measures in developing nations. According to The New York Times, only a third of this sum has actually been met.

FASTFACT

* Net-zero will be achieved when all global greenhouse gases released by humans are counterbalanced by their removal from the atmosphere.

Then there are the private sources of funding behind net-zero initiatives, which are particularly important because finance is a cornerstone of the Paris Agreement, binding as it does global providers of capital into the agenda.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles — the non-financial factors that investors look at when identifying risk and growth opportunities — constitute the fastest-growing asset class in the world. Deloitte expects some 50 percent, or $34.5 trillion, of all professionally managed money in the US will flow into ESG-compatible investments by 2025.

On July 7, Aviva Investors and Fidelity International, alongside another 113 investors overseeing assets worth $4.2 trillion, urged 63 of the world’s global banks to up their game on climate change, including the publication of short-term climate targets compliant with the International Energy Agency (IEA)’s net-zero scenario before annual shareholder meetings.

While this is an encouraging sign, there remain several questions about standards and so-called greenwashing. So far there are no universally agreed ESG standards, although several institutions, including the World Economic Forum (WEF), are working to create their own benchmarks.

Can net-zero carbon emission targets be met
School students hold up placards at a School Strike 4 Climate rally during a mass school strike for climate action in Melbourne on May 21, 2021. (AFP/File Photo)

The drive towards ESG investments channels funds towards green companies and has diminished the investor base for oil, gas and coal.

Most big companies have subscribed to net-zero 2050 targets and many European oil majors have defined themselves for some time now as ‘energy firms’ rather than oil giants, with aggressive plans to shift their activities toward renewables.

While these developments will lead to higher greener-energy production, they can also be misleading. Oil majors increasingly divest assets, which other entities, particularly in the private equity space or national oil companies, snap up on the cheap.

Shuffling the deckchairs might help improve the image of publicly listed oil companies, but it will not necessarily move more carbon out of the system.

The purists, meanwhile, want to defund hydrocarbons altogether. In May, the IEA issued a report, titled “Net Zero by 2050,” which recommended no new investments in upstream oil and gas assets after 2021.

Can net-zero carbon emission targets be met
An employee connects a Volkswagen (VW) ID.3 electric car to a loading station of German carmaker Volkswagen, at the ‘Glassy Manufactory’ (Glaeserne Manufaktur) production site in Dresden. (AFP/File Photo)

It says clean-energy investment needs to triple to $4 trillion by 2030. Although well-intentioned, the proposal is much more feasible for developed countries, which can afford measures like the electrification of road traffic. But in developing countries, where almost 800 million people have no access to electricity, gas is still needed as an affordable transition fuel.

The IEA report also said the new green economy could create 30 million jobs. It was unrealistic, however, when it calculated job losses of 5 million. In some of the world’s developing countries, many more than this number work in the coal sector alone.

Also, many Western governments underestimate the role that carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) will play in decarbonization of the economy. The concept of the circular carbon economy, which will reduce reuse, recycle and remove carbon, and which was endorsed by the G20, could be better appreciated by decision-makers.

Furthermore, nobody has yet compiled a full environmental and economic analysis of the life cycle of various sources of energy. A failure to understand their impact could lead to policy failures and the misallocation of funds.

In all of the above, clear and predictable regulatory frameworks are essential if initiatives are to win the backing of investors. In other words, expect the journey to net-zero to be bumpy, occasionally acrimonious, and not as straightforward as many would like.

————

* Cornelia Meyer is a Ph.D.-level economist with 30 years of experience in investment banking and industry. She is chairperson and CEO of business consultancy Meyer Resources. Twitter: @MeyerResources

‘Gardening’ in the Arabian Gulf

‘Gardening’ in the Arabian Gulf

Qatar University‘s initiative of ‘Gardening’ in the Arabian Gulf could be considered an unprecedented one. It is looking a long way forward. In effect, life in the Gulf revolved around living off the natural resources of the surrounding sea. Wild pearl diving was for centuries one of the few means of earning life. Pearl grounds originally stretched on the eastern side of the Arabian peninsula from Kuwait to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. The very recent advent of oil and gas has changed all that. For good? One cannot help but think that things might get back to the way they were. In the meantime, Gardening in the Arabian Gulf might be taken as a strategic step that ultimate goal. Here is the story as published by THE.

The picture above is for illustration and is of Doha News.

‘Gardening’ in the Arabian Gulf

Qatar is making ambitious plans to reintroduce corals and counteract marine pollution with a new artificial reef

For Qatar, like much of the planet, climate change is an ever-present concern. As demand for urban expansion increases, the country’s construction industry is booming – causing inevitable tension between Qatar’s economic and environmental agendas.

'Gardening' in the Arabian Gulf

One area that has suffered dramatically is the Arabian Gulf’s natural coral reef. Common estimates suggest that just 2 per cent of coral life here has survived since humans began their development of the region.

But a bold new plan led by experts at Qatar University hopes to change this trajectory: the Mushroom Forest Artificial Reef is the brainchild of Bruno Welter Giraldes, research assistant professor of marine biology at the university’s Environmental Science Centre.

According to Dr Giraldes, it is “the systemic pattern of urban development in coastal areas” that is to blame for the reef’s decline. Unlike many of the planet’s reefs – which are threatened by rising sea temperatures as well as other climatic changes – the Arabian Peninsula has one of the only types of coral reef ecosystems able to survive high temperatures. Because of this, experts believe that the loss of marine life here is a direct consequence of pollution, overfishing and, in particular, coastal sedimentation spurred on by construction work along the coast.

“There can be no doubt that it has killed a lot of the corals,” says Dr Giraldes. “It’s possible our generation will see the total extinction of one ecosystem – which is why we have to find an alternative.”

Originally from Brazil, Dr Giraldes came up with the idea of the mushroom reef after becoming fascinated with an unusual coral formation called “chapeirões”, which grows off the Brazilian coastline.

“It is the only species that grows vertically, creating something like a Greek column,” he explains. “When they get nearer the surface, they spread laterally, creating a mushroom effect.”

Observing how these vertical corals behaved in nature gave Dr Giraldes the idea that such a structure could be created artificially to boost marine life in endangered waters such as those of the Arabian Gulf. With help from the Qatar University Internal Funding Programme, he now leads a three-year project worth $300,000 (£260,000) to help achieve that aim.

“What we are doing is biomimicry – we are taking an idea of something that already exists in nature in the hope that we can reintroduce marine life naturally,” he explains. “If we can create artificial structures that naturally adapt to the marine environment, with a bit of help, we can ‘farm’ marine life indoors before introducing them to artificial reefs – I call it ‘gardening’”, he says.

This approach to growing corals indoors has been tested successfully in different universities worldwide, including the Australian Institute of Marine Science, which has the indoor tanks and facilities required for large-scale observation. The sedimentation experiment in the Coastal Engineering laboratory at the University of Queensland in Australia “worked beautifully”, says Dr Giraldes, thanks mainly to the mushroom-shaped design. “Imagine a lot of mushrooms together – they create one forest of mushrooms that can be deployed together, connected in the base. The water current moves horizontally, close to the bottom, isolating the coral habitat away from the sedimentation.”

While there are other artificial reef designs in the market, it is only his iconic vertical design that can withstand currents carrying sediment along the seabed, Dr Giraldes explains. “Most artificial reefs are fine when used close to natural coral reefs that already exist; but if you want to increase the habitat by starting from scratch in a soft, sandy bottom, this new artificial reef with a large base can ‘float’ above the sediment so that corals don’t sink or disappear, buried by sediment.”

To start such a project from so little is a huge challenge. Right now, there can be no guarantee that pollution won’t overcome the marine life eventually, should the current level of construction continue. But any attempt to reintroduce coral life is important, says Dr Giraldes, not only to protect the existing endangered reef but also for ecological balance and security.

“In Brazil, when we destroyed the forest, it increased dengue fever and other threats to humans,” he says. “In the case of the coral reef here, we’ve already caused an imbalance, where some animals are dying and others, which are harmful to humans, are increasing in numbers.” It is an acknowledged phenomenon, for example, that growing populations of jellyfish “stalk” the Arabian Peninsula and interfere with water desalination plants – a resource that humans depend on heavily in desert countries such as Qatar.

But reintroducing coral reefs is just one part of Dr Giraldes’ master plan. “What I am proposing is not just the reef but an entire change in approach to the social and economic system,” he explains.

To truly protect the natural environment going forward, his research takes into account the varying priorities for industry, as well as what he calls “nature users” of many kinds. “We have several social companies that use the marine environment for tourism; we have divers, recreational and commercial fishing and artisan users…all of them contribute towards a society that uses this environment. So if we satisfy the population with their ordinary needs – enjoying the sea, having fun, fishing, doing what they are used to doing – then it works for us as a scientific and environmentalist group, too.”

By offering these businesses an alternative to the existing, exhausted natural reef, the natural reef can be helped in its recovery. But more than this, Dr Giraldes wants to make the artificial reefs an investment opportunity for businesses, including the construction industries that contributed to the death of the coral reef in the first place.

“Industrial developers and academia fight each other – and environmentalists are losing the war,” he says. “That’s why I’m sowing a seed for this new form of construction – it’s a new field that the industry can make money in.”

One construction company is already working with Qatar University to build the base structures for the new reef using a special kind of concrete designed by the researchers. “This probiotic concrete assimilates faster,” Dr Giraldes says. “The bacterial microorganism can get really close to the natural rock, fast, which avoids barnacles and unwanted growth, for example”.

By the end of the current project, Dr Giraldes hopes to have successfully installed a living reef in the Gulf, but also have a patented product that can be sold to governments around the world.

“As a scientist and a stakeholder in the university, I am giving society an alternative to make this restoration a profitable action for all,” he says.

For more information, please visit www.qu.edu.qa

A Race to Protect the Environment or Control Natural Resources?

A Race to Protect the Environment or Control Natural Resources?

Najib Saab writes in ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English how in his opinion, climate change should be faced up, most appropriately in the MENA region. So is it A Race to Protect the Environment or Control Natural Resources?

For the last 100 years, the region that supplied the world with liquid and gaseous fossil fuels should take a stand that the energy transition to cleaner sources is underway and that fossil fuels would not have acceptability forever. And that the already ongoing shift towards the clean energy ecosystem the world over will only increase to the point where there will not be a need for any action towards lessening any global warming anymore.

The picture above is for illustration and is of The Century Foundation.

A Race to Protect the Environment or Control Natural Resources?

20 June, 2021

When US climate envoy John Kerry called to transform the science of climate change into policies and laws, he only got it half right, because setting public policies is not a simple matter. It rather is a complex issue that requires compromises to balance economic, social and environmental aspects. Even when scientific facts indicate the need to immediately stop carbon emissions in order to confront the impacts of climate change, fast full implementation may not be feasible. Any abrupt change is likely to affect the economy and disrupt human life, instigating poverty, hunger and death no less than the dangers of climate change itself. What is required is to provide appropriate conditions and find viable alternatives. Those do exist in most cases, but achieving them requires serious political will and adequate funding.

The major interrelationship between environmental and climate decisions on one hand, and social and economic conditions on the other, was evident in recent days, both at the Group of Seven (G7) summit and the Swiss popular referendum. While the seven world leaders, hosted by Britain, tried to bridge a fine line between climate commitments and the economy, Swiss voters rejected a government proposal for a radical cut in carbon emissions, arguing that it will affect the economy. The complications from the coronavirus pandemic were the main factor in both cases.

Fifty-one percent of Swiss voters rejected a government proposal to introduce an additional tax on fuel and airline tickets, in order to reduce consumption and enhance efficiency, to achieve the goal of reducing carbon emissions in half by 2030, compared to 1990. While the proposal was supported by 49 percent, it was rejected by a small margin by a group that feared its effects on the economy, especially during the coronavirus recovery period.

It is noteworthy that Swiss voters also rejected, by a large majority, in another referendum, a government proposal to ban the use of synthetic pesticides, and to limit aid and support to farmers who stop using chemicals. The farmers believed that these measures would compromise their competitiveness and eventually lead to bankruptcy, in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence that some pesticides and fertilizers pollute the water and harm plant, animal and human life. Now, the Swiss government has no choice but to come up with alternative solutions that preserve the environment, and protect the economy and the people at the same time.

In conjunction with the announcement of the results of the Swiss referendum, the G7 final statement included an item on environment and climate, under which the leaders committed themselves to launching a green revolution that creates jobs, halving carbon emissions by 2030 and reaching zero before 2050, as well as conserving and protecting at least 30 percent of land and oceans by 2030. The summit also renewed the commitment to keep the increase in the average global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is the most ambitious target set by the Paris Climate Summit. The G7 also pledged to stop all coal-fired power plants in their countries, unless they relied on techniques to safely capture carbon, rather than release it into the atmosphere. It also promised, in return, to help developing countries get rid of polluting coal plants and adopt other clean technologies for energy production, in parallel with stopping all funding for new polluting plants. But effects of this measure will be limited, as long as China continues to build hundreds of coal plants in developing countries, requiring intense international cooperation to reach common grounds.

However, all these pledges fell short of what environmental activists and many experts and the scientific community expected, especially in the field of finance. While the leaders renewed their pledge to contribute annually until 2025 to a $100 million climate fund, from the public and private sectors, to help poor countries reduce carbon emissions, they did not address the gap in these commitments, since the announcement was made back in 2009. But the United States, Germany and Britain have tried to make up for this collective failure, by promising hundreds of millions of bilateral aid to support the communities most affected by climate change. On another hand, Lord Nicholas Stern, a British economist who is a world authority on the implications of climate change, called for a doubling of government support to fund climate action in developing countries. He also emphasized the economic feasibility of investing a large part of the thousands of billions of dollars earmarked for economic recovery from the pandemic, in projects that promote the transition to a green economy.

Economic revival was the main item in the G7 summit, albeit under environmental and social headlines. As a collective challenge to China’s Silk Road projects, the summit established a Global Infrastructure Fund, to support the transportation network in poor countries and help their transition to green growth, mainly comprising renewable energy and clean technology.

Can the Western-Chinese rivalry be utilized as a race in the interest of the environment, climate and sustainable development, or would it lead to a new cold war, of sorts, to control natural resources? Should this happen, the first victims will be poor people, which both blocks claim to serve.

A Race to Protect the Environment or Control Natural Resources?
Najib Saab
Najib Saab is Secretary General of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development- AFED and Editor-in-Chief of Environment & Development magazine
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