These roundtables – titled Towards COP27: Regional Forums on Climate Initiatives to Finance Climate Action and the SDGs – take place across Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and are hosted by the incoming Egyptian COP27 Presidency, the UN Regional Commissions and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions.
Developing countries entered the Covid-19 crisis with significantly bigger debt vulnerabilities than at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, leaving them with constrained fiscal space in which to build resilience to climate impacts and respond to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, developed countries and private sector investors have yet to deliver the US$100 billion per year of climate finance promised by 2020. The Africa Group of negotiators has called for US$1.3 trillion per year to be made available from 2025.
The regional forums will convene countries looking to raise capital for critical climate projects and initiatives, along with significant financial institutions such as regional development banks and members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. They will look at how best to de-risk investments in developing countries and help countries present their investment-ready projects.
The schedule of forums is:
Addis Ababa, Egypt: 2-4 August
Bangkok, Thailand: 25 August
Santiago, Chile: 1-2 September
Beirut, Lebanon: 15 September
Geneva, Switzerland: 20 September
Building for Resilience
City life around the world is being pushed to the brink by extreme, unbearable temperatures and the havoc they wreak.
In the past month alone, Shanghai issued its highest alert for extreme heat for the third time this summer, requiring construction and other outdoor work to be reduced or paused. London saw the highest number of fires since World War II, and flights at Luton Airport halted due to a melted runway, as the capital breached a record 40 degrees Celsius. Tehran experienced power outages due to a heatwave, compounded by a severe drought that pushed up power prices.
If this continues, major urban hubs will become unlivable in the coming decades, even as their populations multiply. Cities in developing and emerging economies are most at risk. We can avoid the worst impacts, by designing future built environments to be more resilient to climate change impacts and fit for a zero-emissions economy by 2050.
The buildings and construction sector is responsible for nearly 40% of energy- and process-related carbon emissions. That footprint is set to grow, with two-thirds of people expected to live in cities by 2060. In Africa, the floor area is expected to more than double by 2050. But only half of the urban fabric needed to accommodate this influx has so far been built. So the decisions businesses, investors, cities, regions and national governments take today will determine how liveable and resilient the built environment becomes.
To reach net zero by 2050, all new buildings need to operate with net-zero emissions, whilst reducing the buildings’ embodied emissions, by 2030, according to the Race to Zero’s Breakthroughs report. Given the lag time of around five years between design and completion of a large building, change must start now.
This makes sound business sense. The shift to green buildings in emerging markets alone offers a US$24.7 trillion investment opportunity, and can spur sustainable development, according to the International Finance Corporation. Green buildings also offer sales premiums of up to one-third higher than traditional buildings, and sell faster. Their lower water and power consumption reduces operational costs by as much as 37%. And their construction can create millions of skilled jobs, and lead to improved health, equity and resilience.
It will also save lives. Some 1 billion live in informal settlements in homes that are vulnerable to climate change, many with an iron roof that leaks when it rains and in a heatwave can feel like it’s cooking you. Yet little attention is given to this challenge of improving existing homes and building new ones in informal settlements. Roof Over Our Head, a new initiative led by Slum Dwellers International, is working to meet this challenge by bringing communities, cities, architects, industry and financiers together.
Built Environment Action
The shift towards greener, more resilient urban hubs picked up ahead of COP26 – but it needs to accelerate.
The High-Level Champions worked with a coalition of business and government groups to establish 26 climate action initiatives announced for the sector at COP26. Among those, 44 developers, designers and asset managers representing US$85 billion in annual turnover signed the World Green Building Council’s commitment to reduce energy consumption, eliminate emissions from energy and refrigerants, and reduce embodied carbon from new developments and renovations by 2030 and ensure that all buildings reach net zero operational carbon by 2050.
More businesses have signed up to the commitment since COP26, including Africa Logistics Properties which acquires, develops and manages warehouses in East Africa; Deutsche Bank, which has over 6000 buildings in its portfolio; and Schneider Electric, according to a recent status report by the World Green Building Council.
Governments are acting too. Austria has brought forward a sales ban on new gas boilers by two years to 2023, following similar moves by the Netherlands and Germany. Colombia has launched a national roadmap for zero-carbon buildings by 2050, and 33 US states and local governments have launched a coalition dedicated to creating cleaner, healthier and more affordable buildings.
Recognizing that much of the growth will be in Africa, the World Green Building Council’s Africa Regional Network is developing a manifesto for sustainable cities and built environments on the continent, which will be released in the lead up to COP27. It makes recommendations across five areas: energy, water, materials, finance and infrastructure. The draft manifesto is now open for public consultation, with written comments due by 18 August through this form. This will be followed by regional roundtables ahead of COP27.
Latin America & the Caribbean Climate Week
July’s Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week in Santo Domingo brought together over 1,700 participants from governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society, with events ranging from climate finance to the building of resilience to climate change impacts.
The Champions hosted two Marrakech Partnership deep-dive workshops. The Implementation Lab, which looked at how infrastructure plans and financial flows can benefit strengthening coastal resilience while accelerating emission reductions in the region. The Regionalization Workshop saw Mahmoud Mohieldin, the COP27 High-Level Champion, and Raquel Moses, Global Ambassador for the Race to Zero and Race to Resilience, share the five-year plan for enhancing the Marrakech Partnership’s ambition.
The Champions also convened a session on collaborative solutions for non-State action after impacts, highlighting the role of businesses in increasing resilience and shifting the focus from philanthropy to investment, as well as an open dialogue on the urgency of accelerating financial flows for mitigation and adaptation in the region and showing the immediate implementation of NDCs. The Champions also opened an event on the Global Stocktake, which underlined the importance of inclusiveness, regional balance and forward-looking opportunities.
Mahmoud Mohieldin took part in the Climate Week’s opening and received the week’s outcomes from Dominican Republic Acting Environment Minister Milagros De Camps at the end, committing to take the region’s perspectives forward.
Latin America and the Caribbean have already been hit by impacts such as drought, glacier melt, extreme rainfall and deforestation, according to a World Meteorological Organization report released during the week.
You can watch all the week’s events here.
This article was authored by Nigel Topping and was first published here.