Climate Change Signals from Durban | World Bank Institute (WBI)

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January 26, 2012—In a webinar, Neeraj Prasad, World Bank Institute (WBI) practice manager for Climate Change engaged with about 100 climate change practitioners, students, and representatives of non-governmental organizations to discuss the outcomes of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (CoP17) in Durban. We have captured some of the key questions that were discussed.



What were the main outcomes from Durban?

There is a new agreement for a legal instrument which will require all countries to reduce their carbon emissions to accepted levels by 2020, with action to be negotiated by 2015, under the Durban Program for Enhanced Action. More importantly, it allows for moving forward with a set of agreements to help prevent the effects of climate change that include carbon markets, a new adaptation fund, the Green Climate Fund, agriculture, and the emerging concept of NAMAs.

Why are carbon markets important for climate change?

Carbon markets make solving the problem cheaper. They also transfer money and technology to developing countries. The problem is that we still don’t know if industrialized countries are interested in buying. So we have to presume that carbon markets will make a come-back in due course.

In the meantime countries around the globe are introducing their own market-based instruments, which could form the basis for a networked global system. Here at WBI we are focused on building capacity for future instruments. Twenty-five countries are now part of the World Bank’s Partnership for Market Readiness, an $80 million program with the purpose of building capacity and sharing experiences.

Durban also provided an excellent forum for countries such as China, India, Brazil, South Africa, the EU and Australia to explain what they’re learning as they introduce market-based approaches and to get others to join.

What will happen to the carbon markets?

A new commitment period (beginning January 1, 2013 until at least the end of 2017), under the Kyoto Protocol for the European Union (EU) and eleven other countries will at least revive carbon markets, especially under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). It is important that we still have this regulatory structure. But demand needs to be defined. In the first commitment period that ends this year 38 countries agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 targets – something on similar lines needs to emerge.

What is the new Adaptation Framework?

The Adaptation Framework will become operational in 2012, providing guidance and advice on national adaptation plans. These plans will allow developing countries to assess and reduce their vulnerability to climate change. The most vulnerable are to receive better protection against loss and damage caused by extreme weather events related to climate change. 

What is the Green Climate Fund?

The Green Climate Fund is a new funding mechanism for climate action. Now it will be important to develop effective operational modalities of the Fund.  It is proposed that the World Bank be the trustee, at least for the first three years. The interim secretariat will be managed by UNFCCC and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Bonn, Germany. The secretariat will be independent, and several countries will be bidding to host this in the coming months.

Realistically, the Green Climate Fund won’t be able to disburse money for large projects for the next 4-5 years. So, for us a key issue is how to manage the time until this new fund becomes operational. Important programs will need concessional finance in between. In that respect, instruments such as the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) have a large role to play in bridging this gap.

How important is agriculture for climate change?

While agriculture is most vulnerable to climate change, it is also a major cause directly accounting for about 14 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers are among the most affected by climate change, but can also play a crucial part in addressing it. Carbon, which is harmful to us in the upper atmosphere, is highly beneficial when embedded in soil or vegetation, helping to provide higher and more resilient yields. African agriculture in particular could benefit greatly from climate-smart agriculture – that raises yields and enhances food security, increases crop resilience to climate variations, and sequesters carbon in the soil.

What are NAMAs and how can they support climate change action?

NAMA stands for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action. These are policies and actions that developing countries undertake voluntarily to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They can differ from country to country. NAMAs could also develop to leverage financial assistance from developed countries to reduce emissions. In Durban, there was consensus that NAMAs are important climate instruments. Developing countries were strongly encouraged to develop NAMAs and low emissions development strategies An emerging idea is that countries lodge their NAMAs in a registry, from where bilateral donors could seek matches with their funding plans. The really important part about NAMAs for now is, that it helps countries to learn from each other about what works and what doesn’t.

What is the Climate Change Knowledge Portal?

As part of the World Bank’s Open Data Initiative, we launched a new Climate Change Knowledge Portal in Durban. It’s a powerhouse of data and includes visualization tools depicting temperature and rainfall scenarios to the year 2100. It links users to more than 250 climate indicators, and risk profiles for 31 countries where climate open data websites may launch in the next year. The World Bank Institute will be working intensively with our client countries and partners to use this portal, including its projection capacity to help design programs for climate resilient and low carbon policies.

Watch the recorded webinar.

Learn about climate change through e-learning courses offered by the e-Institute.


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