A new United Nations report has warned that international efforts to mitigate climate change are insufficient to meet the goal of keeping global warming to below 2degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Also, plans for a multi-billion dollar fund to help developing countries deal with climate change, has hit a big barrier, as countries could not agree on the design of the fund.
The report, released just a month before a major conference on the issue is held in Durban, South Africa, laid out a list of options to achieve the target.
These include more cuts in greenhouse gases from additional sectors, stronger accounting rules both within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and through other multilateral and domestic strategies, sharing mitigation efforts based on countries’ capacities or contributions to the problem, and legally binding commitments.
The report, ‘Building the Climate Change Regime: Survey and Analysis of Approaches’, was published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Resources Institute (WRI), a global environmental think tank with the support of the Irish Government.
It reviewed more than 130 proposals put forward by governments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and academics to design a climate regime capable of delivering adequate mitigation, according to a UN release.
At the upcoming climate meeting in Durban, countries have the opportunity to turn these ideas into action and start to bridge the ambition gap needed to truly have an impact.
It is the latest in a long series of UN warnings that world is falling behind in the battle against global warming. Just last month, at a Leaders’ Dialogue on Climate Change on the eve of the high-level session of the General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged governments to show greater commitment.
Scientists say that keeping to the 2-degrees Celsius limit over the course of the 21st century is crucial to avert widespread disasters, from the disappearances of low-lying island nations under rising seas and searing droughts, famines, extreme storms and flooding, to the extinction of species.
“The analysis provided in this new report offers many options that can happen either in the formal negotiations or as complementary measures elsewhere, options that can assist the more than 190 United Nations Member States move quickly to harvest the opportunities of a transition to a climate resilient, low-carbon, resource-efficient Green Economy,” UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said.
The report highlighted the need to mobilise a range of public and private sector groups at the international, national and sub-national levels, who
can contribute to climate governance, emission reductions and adaptation investment.
It stressed that the issue of legally binding commitments is central to debates ahead of Durban and noted that it is possible to build upon existing UNFCCC processes to strengthen the climate regime and raise the overall level of ambition to reach the target.
In a related development, the decision on the stalled climate change fund came on Tuesday at a meeting of an international committee tasked with designing the fund in time for governments to approve the design at next month’s UN climate change conference in Durban, South Africa.
Last year, negotiators from 194 nations agreed to create the ‘Green Climate Fund’ to channel up to US$100 billion a year by 2020 to developing countries, according to a release by the National Coordinator, Climate Change Network Nigeria (CCN Nigeria), Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Mr. Surveyor Efik.
The statement noted that developing countries had warned that control of the fund by the donor nations – and the burden of bureaucracy that entails - would limit their ability to make good use of it.
The Least Developed Countries -- 48 of the poorest nations in Africa and Asia that are particularly vulnerable to climate change – were represented on the committee by Bangladesh and Zambia, whose negotiators had, from the outset, called for a radically new approach.
They argued that national climate-change trust funds in developing nations should be able to access the Green Climate Fund directly, rather than going through a third party such as the World Bank – which entails long delays, excessive paperwork.
After six months of tense negotiations, the Least Developed Countries seemed to have succeeded in their demand for provisions for direct access to be included in the final text.
But in the committee’s final meeting on 18 October, the United States and Saudi Arabia withdrew their support for the overall design supported by all other countries because of concerns about other aspects of the text.
Trevor Manuel the former finance minister of South Africa, who co-chaired the meeting with Kjetil Lund of Norway, called the outcome "sub-optimal".
Germany also expressed frustration and disappointment, and said that the committee’s failure to agree a design “will likely result in not having the Green Climate Fund this year or the next”.
At the sixteenth Conference of Parties (COP16) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancun in December 2010 the developed countries agreed to set a new Green Climate Fund (GCF) to channel up to US$100 billion a year starting from 2020