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.
Bibhu Mishra of Humboldt University, Berlin elaborates on Transitioning towards sustainable economy: Role of financial institutions such as Central Banks and financial systems in The Times of India.
Transitioning towards sustainable economy: Role of Central Banks and financial systems
“For peace to reign on Earth, humans must evolve into new beings who have learned to see the whole first”, said Kant.
Climate change is real; it affects and will affect everyone. Mother Nature sends its signals regularly, and most recently through the flash floods in western Germany. These signals are an urgent reminder that we need to take action now. The action must be collective, significant, timely, and futuristic because, in the long term, the risks outweigh the costs.
The Paris climate accord is one such step in the right direction. A holistic and stakeholder-driven approach would be required to achieve the target of maintaining temperature rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius. One of the most significant stakeholders in such efforts is the global financial system. The financial system’s role is pivotal because they provide finance and steer economic growth. Their actions have a significant impact on ESG, i.e., Environment, Society, and Governance.
There is a tremendous surge in investments which keeps ESG at the core of investment decisions. According to Bloomberg, ‘ESG assets may hit $53 trillion by 2025, a third of global AUM’. Despite a phenomenal rise in ESG assets in the past decade, the financial system still faces challenges like ‘short-termism’ and ‘greenwashing.’
Therefore, the role of Central Banks is vital. They look at the financial system of a country as a whole. Former Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney coined the concept ‘Tragedy of the Horizon’ to explain this. He argued, “the catastrophic impacts of climate change will be felt beyond the traditional horizons of most banks, investors and financial policymakers, imposing costs on future generations that the current one has no direct incentives to fix.” It is a tricky paradox where the current system has little or no benefits but to save the planet in its current state or better for the coming generations.
Realizing the importance of its role, eight central banks and supervisors created (In December 2017) a ‘Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS).’The NGFS is aimed to make coordinated efforts to combat climate change. As of June 30, 2021, the NGFS has grown to a network of 95 members and 15 observers. The Network’s purpose, in their own words; “to help strengthen the global response required to meet the Paris agreement’s goals and enhance the role of the financial system to manage risks and mobilize capital for green and low-carbon investments in the broader context of environmentally sustainable development.”
The NGFS is a significant step towards bringing central banks of different countries together and ensuring that central banks take the leadership role in fighting against the climate crisis. In its first comprehensive report (Pub 2019), It came up with the following six suggestions and floated the idea of global collective leadership.
Integrating climate-related risks into financial stability monitoring and micro-supervision
Integrating sustainability factors into own-portfolio management
Bridging the data gaps
Building awareness and intellectual capacity and encouraging technical assistance and knowledge sharing
Achieving robust and internationally consistent climate and environment-related disclosure
Supporting the development of a taxonomy of economic activities
Additionally, the steps taken by the Central Banks of England (Bank of England) and France (Banque de France) are noteworthy and worth a mention.
Recently, the [Central] Bank of England launched a stress test for banks and insurers to understand the ability of the UK Financial system to cope with climate change. The test is aimed to examine the resilience of the UK’s 19 biggest banks and insurers. The stress test can also be looked at as an acknowledgement that Climate Change poses significant financial risks to the existing financial system. Therefore, early planning of a transition is necessary.
Moreover, ‘Banque de France,’ the central bank of France, took several initiatives to transition the financial industry into zero carbon. In June 2021, the French ACPR (Autorité de contrôle prudential et de résolution, English translation: French Prudential Supervision and Resolution Authority) published the first climate pilot exercise report an overall ‘moderate’ exposure to climate risks.
Let’s understand the risk through an example. Investing in fossil fuels may generate returns in the short term,’ but it will accelerate climate change and, hence, negatively impact the ESG. The negative impact on climate could cause erratic rains or severe drought, leading to an adverse effect on investments made in agriculture and allied sectors. One sector’s gain can be the loss of another sector, posing a significant risk before the overall financial system.
To ensure a smooth transition of the financial system towards sustainability and make it resilient from other systemic risks, early and coordinated action is needed. Central Banks and financial systems have a significant role to play in our journey towards sustainability.
Bibhu Mishra is a German Chancellor Fellow at Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and a researcher with Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin.
Emerging Economies Must Leapfrog to Renewables – and They Already Are per Roya Sabri in this TRIPLEPUNDIT’s article.
Emerging Economies Must Leapfrog to Renewables – and They Already Are
20 July 2021
Renewables like solar and wind are quickly becoming more affordable and accessible. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) reports that the cost of electricity coming from utility-scale solar power fell 82 percent between 2010 and 2019, and clean power technologies such as solar and wind are undercutting even the cheapest coal-fired power plants. Further, a 2020 analysis from BloombergNEF found that wind and solar have overtaken fossil fuels as the most cost-effective form of new sources of electricity in most of the world.
This trend has made “energy leapfrogging” – i.e., the ability to reap a nation’s power needs from renewables such as solar, wind and geothermal at a rapid pace, bypassing heavy investments in fossil fuels and the infrastructure needed for them – ever more possible in emerging markets.
Economies, including several examples in Africa and Latin America, have been transitioning straight from what for many of their communities had been traditional sources of energy like wood, charcoal, agricultural waste and animal dung; these countries are also able to shift rapidly toward renewables as they have not invested in massive infrastructure that supports a national power grid, as was the case with what more industrialized nations in Europe and North America had done during the 20th century.
The result is that more communities within these emerging markets are forgoing conventional energy sources like fossil fuels; the same goes for other forms of energy like nuclear, biofuels and even natural gas.
A recent report from the think tank Carbon Tracker and India’s Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) highlights progress emerging nations are making in embracing renewables. The report also comes with a warning: If more nations do not leapfrog to these cleaner sources of energy, a worldwide low-carbon economy will not occur.
As the demand for energy grows, leapfrogging to renewables becomes necessary
The International Energy Agency estimates a surge in power generation in emerging nations will boom over the next decade, accounting for the majority of electricity demand by 2030. Thus, a world aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has an incentive to ensure countries like India and China continue their developing infrastructure that is more conducive for renewables.
The authors of this Carbon Tracker and CEEW study find that emerging markets are already stepping away from fossil fuels. “Given the continued rapid growth rate of solar and wind, it is highly likely that emerging markets ex-China have already plateaued or reached peak demand for fossil fuels for electricity. China is likely to peak before 2025,” they write. China may still be a major coal consumer, but its solar sector is growing fast. Countries like Morocco, Nicaragua and Kenya have already made great leaps toward increased reliance on renewables.
Some nations are already leapfrogging to renewables
The Climate Reality Project details how Morocco, Nicaragua and Kenya have been able to turn their power generation sectors into ones that are more sustainable and resilient. Morocco, for one, has set a target of 42 percent renewable energy production by 2021 and 52 percent by 2030. It has stayed on track by building up its solar and wind power infrastructure. The North Africa country, in fact, now hosts one of the largest solar farms in the world.
After experiencing rolling blackouts due to energy insecurity a decade ago, Nicaragua is now on its way to sourcing 80 percent of its electricity from sources of renewables. By late 2020, Nicaragua’s burgeoning geothermal industry had brought the nation to 72 percent reliance on renewable energy sources.
Energy accessibility has been expanding in Kenya as decentralized solar has spread across the nation. The country is also making use of its geothermal power, which may reach 50 percent of its energy mix by 2040.
Clean energy can support a more resilient and healthy economy
These cases show that a dramatic shift to renewable energy can increase energy accessibility and stability. The economic case is significant. IRENA reported in 2016 that a doubling of renewables by 2030 could mean global GDP increases by over one percent, boosts social welfare investments by almost four percent and can add more than 24 million jobs.
While some nations have proved leapfrogging possible and beneficial, the authors of the Carbon Tracker and CEEW study note that there are serious barriers to building renewable energy reliance. Such hurdles include the intermittency of renewable sources, system costs, policies and deeply vested interests — but international actors can make a difference. The report recommends that international policymakers should focus their attention on countries currently dependent on fossil fuel imports that also have governments more amenable to policy solutions.
Finally, the authors contend that such nations are more receptive to a transition than countries that are more politically fragile. They are also in a stronger position than countries with economies largely driven by coal and gas exports. The result is that these countries that have found success with energy leapfrogging can become examples for their neighbors and help to bring more emerging nations closer toward a clean energy future.
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 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.
Working together is the only effective way of handling the crisis – and it is a crisis, if not an emergency as per Chris Doyle. In this article where he explains why the Middle East needs a region-wide plan to tackle climate change. In fact, it is high time for all in the MENA region to get together and try to build a future of a better and cleaner environment.
Middle East needs region-wide plan to tackle climate change
The picture above is for illustration and is of Routard.com
As western Canada and the northwestern US melt under a heat dome and as record temperatures are recorded in the Arctic, the climate change deniers should be in full retreat. The scientific evidence is overwhelming that man-made climate change is occurring and that the consequences are serious and global. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, the global average temperature has increased by more than 1 degree Celsius.
But what about the Middle East and North Africa region? It too has recorded record temperatures in recent years, rendering certain areas almost uninhabitable. This year, the mercury hit 49 C earlier than ever before. Iran and Iraq have suffered electricity blackouts in this summer heat. Climate change and environmental degradation bring with them huge challenges, from rising sea levels and the salinization of coastal areas to desertification, dust storms, and water and air pollution. The Arab world is home to a third of the world’s deserts and these areas are growing, with land degradation a serious threat to many countries that are reliant on agriculture.
Issues relating to the environment have featured in protest movements, notably in Iraq and Lebanon. The water in Basra is dangerously contaminated and toxic, so much so that 118,000 people suffered from poisoning in September 2018. Among the contaminants are depleted uranium munitions from earlier wars, as well as industrial and oil pollutants. And everyone remembers Lebanon’s great garbage crisis, which started in 2015, while even today waste is regularly burned in the open air, releasing yet more dangerous toxins. The Middle East remains the most water-stressed region in the world. Unsustainable groundwater extraction has led to massive stresses on water, even without climate change. Every single country in the region is experiencing a decline in groundwater reserves, not least Iraq, Kuwait, Syria and Lebanon. Turkey is enduring its worst drought in a decade. None of this is made any easier by huge increases in population, which is arguably a bigger factor in water stress than climate change.
Dams have ensured massive flow reduction in major rivers including the Nile, Tigris and Euphrates. This has altered the whole hydrological map of these great river basins. Both the Syrian regime and the Syrian Democratic Forces have blamed Turkey for a huge decline in the flow of the Euphrates, which has led to electricity cuts, an increase in the levels of salinity and pollutants, and a reduction in fish stocks.
Academics have debated the likelihood of water wars for years. The reality is that water stress and climate change have not yet caused conflicts, but they have exacerbated them. Many argue that a drought in Syria caused the uprising in 2011, but it was merely a catalyst. The overwhelming cause remains the actions of the Syrian regime, including its brutality and corruption.
But what will happen in the Nile Delta, which is home to two-thirds of Egypt’s population? The city of Alexandria is sinking and the Nile Delta is shrinking. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined that it was of the three areas on the planet most vulnerable to a rise in sea levels.
There are also smaller impacts that hit specific areas. In Lebanon, the western conifer seed bug, native to the US, has flourished due to climate change and has devastated the pine seed industry.
Renewables are vital. Solar energy offers major opportunities to a country like Jordan, which imports about 97 percent of its energy needs. The regret is that the Middle East, perhaps overconfident in its hydrocarbon wealth, did not invest in solar back in the 1990s, when it could have played a leading role in solar technology. The dividends would have been immense. That said, investment in renewables is progressing now. Many oil-producing states hope to use renewables to satisfy domestic power consumption, enabling them to export more oil and gas. According to one Finnish study, Saudi Arabia could transition to be powered only by renewables as early as 2040. Morocco, which imports 90 percent of its energy needs, has also invested in wind technology. By 2030, renewables should make up more than 30 percent of its power production. Energy storage will be a vital hurdle to clear.
As with most areas of the world, the accusation that state and regional authorities have been slow to act carries significant weight. Certain states have acted individually, but not as a collective. Just like when fighting the pandemic, this is the only effective way of handling the crisis — and it is a crisis, if not an emergency.
Working together is the only effective way of handling the crisis — and it is a crisis, if not an emergency.
Middle Eastern states need to work harder on investing in their own technologies. They need to cooperate to be effective, as climate change knows no borders. So far, despite expressed intentions, Middle Eastern states have acted on their own, not as part of a regional plan. They could start by improving scientific and technical cooperation, as well as information sharing. They could also adopt better water management systems and end wasteful approaches that effectively subsidize the cost of water. They could challenge the dangerous levels of overgrazing and deforestation that assist the process of desertification.
Planning for and mitigating climate change is also vital. What happens when conditions lead to large movements of people, away from coastal regions that are under threat, for example? Without any planning, this will lead to social disorder, chaos and bloodshed.
But Middle Eastern states should also expect, as with the pandemic, considerable assistance from the richer powers that, in this case, have done the most damage to the climate. Finance and technological expertise has to be shared. Let us hope that, at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November, a spirit of determined collective action can inspire a truly global response. The Middle East must not be left behind; in fact, it should be at the forefront of such actions.
Chris Doyle is director of the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding. Twitter: @Doylech
Originally posted on Gharamophone: In May 2020, I posted Sariza Cohen’s stunning recording of “أَشْكُوا الْغَـرَامَ”(Ashku al-gharam), released on Polydor in 1938. This is the other side of that record. It is no less remarkable. Here the pianist and vocalist from Oran performs a composition by Algerian Jewish impresario Edmond Nathan Yafil. The title of…
It’s a truism that Europe is unstable if its North African neighbours are unstable. That being so, it should be of some concern to EU leaders that, on the bloc’s south Mediterranean border, Tunisia’s 10-year-old democracy appears to be on life support.
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