National Finance Helps Asia-Pacific Lead the Way on Climate Change

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A vital round of United Nations climate change negotiations will get underway in Lima, Peru, from Dec. 1-12. This will mark a significant milestone for the crucial Paris Summit on climate change that is a year away.

The summit will determine if a new global deal on climate is possible. As government negotiators return to the annual climate negotiations, they take with them exciting new developments in climate finance and planning from Asia and the Pacific.

At the climate talks in Lima, climate finance will again be at the forefront of negotiations and key in reaching a new global climate agreement. At the Secretary General’s Climate Change Summit in September, a total of $2.3 billion was pledged towards the Green Climate Fund, with contributions of $1 billion each from Germany and France. Earlier this month, US President Barack Obama announced a further contribution of up to $ 3 billion for the fund. All of this culminated in the pledging of $9.3 billion at the Green Climate Fund’s pledging session in Berlin last week.

This is also good news for the Asia Pacific region. So far, countries in the region have received a quarter of all global public climate finance. India and China are the largest recipients. Nineteen dedicated climate funds and initiatives have approved more than $ 2 billion for projects in the region, since 2003. With many countries in Asia Pacific at the frontline of climate change, bolstering resilience of low lying deltas and small islands, and reducing emissions from fast industrializing nations is a good investment.

While this international financing is crucial, for it to have a sustained impact and leverage the investments needed it is also important that planning and budgeting systems are revisited through a climate lens. With the support of the United Nations through the Poverty and Environment Initiative (PEI), countries are better placed to do this and better positioned to track their climate investments.

With the support of the PEI, Bangladesh has calculated that it spends a billion dollars each year on climate change. Three quarters of this is domestic revenue.

The government of Nepal has also been tallying its climate-related costs, which have reached 6 percent of total government expenditure and 2 percent of gross domestic product. This has led to the adoption of a climate budget code that helps track and hopefully increases funding to climate change actions. It has also led to greater transparency and wider distribution of the country’s climate investments. Nepal’s Federal Affairs Ministry is channeling funds to local authorities to aid poor women and men on the front lines of climate change.

Indonesia has developed a budget tagging and scoring system to identify allocations and expenditures on climate mitigation, and to assess the effectiveness of every dollar invested to achieve emission reduction targets. This is a vital tool as the country looks to meet its target of 26 percent to 41 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

New opportunities for finance brought by the Green Climate Fund, the new Asia Infrastructure Bank and the Brics Bank should ensure continued and increasing investment in the region’s new climate economies. Private sector investments are also set to increase rapidly. At the Secretary General’s Climate Change Summit held earlier this year, a new finance coalition of governments, business, financial institutions and development banks pledged to mobilize $200 billion for low-carbon, climate-resilient development in developing countries. Given the current trend, a large part of this will be destined for Asia and the Pacific.

Countries in Asia Pacific are better placed and more ready to receive, absorb, track and ultimately benefit from climate financing, regardless of its source. This is a critical step in their journey towards green economies that deliver immediate benefits in reducing emissions and improving public health, energy efficiency and food security.

Nicholas Rosellini is UNDP’s deputy regional director for Asia and the Pacific, and director of the Bangkok Regional Hub.

Kaveh Zahedi is UNEP’s regional director and representative for Asia and the Pacific.

SOURCE: The Jakarta Globe, November 28th 2014: