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Global warming and Warsaw consensus

27 November 2013 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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UNFCC –COP 19   from 11 -22 in Warsaw Poland is attended by representatives of nearly 200 governments and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon addressed the plenary sessions   on 19 November 2013  with a statement that “People around the world are feeling the wrath of a warming planet and the environment ministers had a steep climb ahead to agree to cut rising greenhouse gas emissions  that scientists say fuel more extreme weather”. It was also stressed that the 200 governments of the UNFCC to seriously attempt to reach a deal in 2015 to fight global warming.

It is also learnt that the Warsaw talks are bogged down to lay the foundations for a new global accord to be agreed in 2015 and enter into force in 2020 and  only ad hoc commitments are made by governments rather than agreeing on a firm and effective treaty.

Many developed nations   have given priority to kick start sluggish economic growth than fixing global warming, despite increased scientific evidence that human emissions cause more heat waves, droughts, floods and rising sea levels and an example is the recent Typhoon Haiyan that killed more than 3900 people in the Philippines.

Developing nations led by China and India insist that the rich nations must continue to curb emissions while they focus on eradicating  poverty.

It is also noted that many major nations have set tougher national goals for cutting greenhouse gases in Warsaw. However Japan disappointed many by stating that it was scaling down goals for 2020after abandoning its nuclear plants after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

A report by 49 experts of 10 nations  to the conference  said that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels will rise to a record 36 billion tonnes (1 tonne = 1.102 metric tons ) a year.

It was proposed that a Green   Climate Fund (GCF) be set up under the Standing Committee of Finance in harmony with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) under its 2020 Strategy. The GEF administers four trust funds (a) GEF Trust Fund which has so far received a total of US $ 15, 225 billion during five replenishments from 1991 (b) Least Developed Countries Trust Fund (c) special Climate Change trust Fund and (d) the Nagoya Protocol Implementation Trust Fund.

The GEF serves as a financial mechanism for UNFCC as well as Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) and UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

The proposed GCF will have the following priorities and will be managed by a Board of Directors

1. Balance the allocation of resources between adaptation and mitigation activities under the GCF and ensure an appropriate allocation of resources for other activities.
2. In allocating resources for adaptation , the GCF will take into account the urgent and immediate needs of developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change , including  Least developed countries (LDCs)small  island developing States and African States,  with  minimum contributions  from those countries  as appropriate and keeping a geographical balance.

3. The GCF will support developing countries in pursuing project based and programme approaches in accordance with their climate change strategies and plans, such as low emission strategies appropriate national mitigation actions, adaptation  programmes  of action , adaptation plan and other related activities.

4 GCF shall ensure adequate resources for capacity building and technology development and transfer.

It is presumed that the GEF will be the major funding source for the proposed GCF with more donors agreeing to contribute for this new initiative.





Business and industry NGOs (BINGO DAY)
The Executive  Secretary o f UNFCC  Cristiana  Figueres  in a statement  to BINGO DAY  stressed that businesses face new risks  from climate change and have new opportunities in addressing such change and  the current efforts are  woefully inadequate to rise to new realities it was stressed that the main task ahead is to re design the economies guided by high resilience ,low carbon and high growth.

“Business must invest in resilience as a strategy that hedges against future cost and ensures long- term continuation of operations. This includes investment in resilient infrastructure, in resilient operations and in resilient supply chains, It was also stated that if resilience manages climate risk then low carbon captures to rewards of climate opportunities and the demand for low carbon goods and services is increasing  Further low carbon transport is increasingly viable.





World Coal Summit
The Executive Secretary UNFCC also advocated radical and far reaching changes in favor of clean energy at the Coal Summit in Warsaw. She stated “the coal industry must and radically transform and diversify to avoid the worst impacts of climate change”

The Coal Summit  organized by Poland and the world Coal Association  was held  side line to UNFCC COP19 and  the secretary general of UNFCC urged the coal industry to honestly assess the financial risks  of business as usual , to anticipate increasing regulation , growing finance restrictions and diminishing public acceptance and to embark on new technology to reduce emissions immediately across the entire chain of coal output from mining , transport  processing and burning specially for generation of electricity.





Conclusions
The UNFCC COP 19 has stressed the need for combating emission of Greenhouse gases if we are to avoid   natural disasters such as  flooding , Typhoons, sea level rise , seasonal droughts etc and Sri Lanka should take immediate action to carefully study the new imitative the GCF and identify priority areas for formulation of project proposals. It must be stressed that emissions from vehicles, factories and other business establishments should be closely monitored and legislation brought mitigate such emissions.

The recent move by the BOI to invest in coal mining companies and ensure a long-term supply of coal will negate UNFCC objectives.

Sri Lanka is dependent on  coal-fired power plants which are not geared to arrest carbon emissions .The GOSL as a long-term policy embark on upgrading the  Narachcholi  and the proposed Sampur plant  should be upgraded to  Super Critical Plants (if not already upgraded as at 2010) Commercial Integrated Gasification  Combined Cycle  (IGCC)  with  Carbon Capture and Storage  (CCS)through 2015 to 2020.Further the GOSL should aim at constructing Retrofit Pulverized Coal Plants with CCS by 2035.

However it must be stressed that GOSL should have a forward looking energy policy by focusing on renewable energy such as hydro, wind, solar as well as wave energy. The production of ethanol from plants is feasible but again will lead to erosion of soil etc and will not be cost effective. Atomic energy will be the final solution to the ever increasing demand for power specially electricity in Sri Lanka.

(The author is a retired United Nations ESCAP Officer and can be reached at fasttrack@eol.lk )
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