According to UNDP, climate action entails “stepped-up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-induced impacts.”
Climate action, represented by SDG 13, poses as the single biggest threat to the economies, livelihoods, and environment of the Asia-Pacific. Climate change has and will continue to have increasingly significant socioeconomic impacts in the region, threatening food security, energy, infrastructure, and health—including from vector borne diseases—among other areas.
As such, climate action MUST be accelerated. In order to accomplish this, the capacity of policymakers to develop coherent policies for accelerated climate action and for aligning climate change policies with the means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs through green growth must be improved. To do this, member States in the Asia-Pacific and other stakeholders also require capacity development to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development, including gender perspectives, into policies, strategies and frameworks at the national level.
In addition, technical assistance, strengthened regional cooperation and localizing of global development agendas (with a focus on Least Developed Countries [LDCs] and Landlocked Developing Countries [LLDCs]), policy dialogue, peer-learning, stakeholder engagement (including Youth and vulnerable groups), and enhanced access to regularly updated knowledge products and tools are necessary for accelerating climate action.
However, formulating and implementing these action plans will require significant amounts of financial resources. For a separate thematic area on Climate Financing, see here.
At the regional level, ESCAP is, together with UNFCC, a leading entity in the effort to accelerate climate action. ESCAP hosts the Asia-Pacific Climate Week (APCW), held to voice regional recommendations and support preparations for the Climate Action Summit which aims to raise ambitions and accelerate action to implement the Paris Agreement.
Climate action is particularly important in the context of the Asia-Pacific. The Asia-Pacific region is at the forefront of the impacts of climate change, yet it is uniquely positioned in global efforts to manage climate change. Higher temperatures, sea level rise, and extreme weather events linked to climate change are having a major impact on the region, harming its economies, natural and physical assets, and compounding developmental challenges, including poverty, food and energy security, and health. Without climate-oriented development, climate change could force more than 100 million people from the region into extreme poverty by 2030, wiping out the gains in poverty reduction achieved over the last decades.
The economic costs associated with disasters across the region are also increasing. Already, damage to property, crops and livestock from disasters increased from US$52 billion annually to over US$523 billion between 1970 and 2015. Globally, over 60 per cent of climate-related disasters occur in East, North-East, and South-East Asia.
At the same time, the region accounts for 53 per cent of global emissions and the high-growth path which many of the region’s economies are on means that this contribution will grow without fundamental policy interventions. Greenhouse gas emissions in the region originate mostly from the combustion of oil, gas, and coal as well as from deforestation, land use change, construction, rapid industrialization, and agriculture.
These trends highlight the urgent need to transition towards low carbon, green growth development to slow climate change down, as well as the need to strengthen resilience to climate change. Key sectors for reducing emissions and for decisive climate action include energy production and use, waste management, low carbon transport, and restoration of natural carbon sinks.
Member States in the Asia-Pacific region can play a key role in the implementation of the Paris Agreement and accelerated implementation of their National Determined Contributions (NDCs) in these key sectors. The NDCs, which describe national pledges/commitments to certain types of actions to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate change impacts, are the most important instrument for countries to achieve internationally agreed climate targets under the Paris Agreement.
However, at the aggregate level, the emission reductions the NDCs entail are not enough to keep the world on track to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Even if the NDCs were fully implemented, the world would still be on the path to warming between 3.5 to 4°C. Given the narrow window of opportunity available to prevent runaway climate change, 2019 and 2020 will be critical years in securing enhanced ambition needed to put the world firmly on the track for achieving the 1.5°C objectives the international community has collectively agreed to.
Nevertheless, many countries are willing to undertake reviews of their NDCs and take specific steps to operationalize them by identifying “low hanging fruits” in terms of concrete implementation measures that will transform the commitment to practical action. However, easy access to tools and methodologies and a lack of capacity to analyze sectoral reviews, scenarios and trend analysis for countries to be able to develop practical, integrated, and coherent implementation mechanisms and even more ambitious targets is a challenge. In addition, to support implementation of those targets there is a need to align, renew, and modify national financing frameworks to meet the implementation requirements of their climate targets accordingly. For a separate thematic area on Climate Financing, see here.
As the United Nations’ regional hub promoting cooperation among countries to achieve inclusive and sustainable development, ESCAP is a key player for accelerating climate action. ESCAP outlines regional aspirations for tackling climate change through cooperation and policy dialogues in its landmark Regional Roadmap for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific. Furthermore, the ESCAP resolution on climate change response in the Asia-Pacific for the 72nd Commission Session (E/ESCAP/RES/72/8) requests the ESCAP Executive Secretary to encourage and collaborate with relevant United Nations bodies and specialized agencies, regional and subregional organizations, and non-governmental organizations to promote capacity-building of member States.
Asia-Pacific Climate Week 2019
Regional Climate Weeks inspire individuals and organizations to become part of the momentum created by the global climate agreement in Paris. It is a unique collaborative platform where both government and non-Party stakeholders gather to address relevant climate issues under one umbrella with the common goal of addressing climate change.
The Weeks comprise a series of events that provide space for a grassroots exchange of knowledge and best practices across the region on: Nationally Determined Contribution implementation, UN Sustainable Development Goals, and Global Climate Action.
Every year the Regional Climate Weeks are held in the following regions: Africa, Latin-America and Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific.
The Asia-Pacific Climate Week (APCW) 2019 took place from 2 to 6 September, in the United Nations Conference Centre, Bangkok, Thailand. It was organized in support of preparations for the UN Secretary General’s (SG’s) Climate Summit and to voice recommendations and support actions from the region. Similarly, APCW contributes towards building momentum for the COP 25 to be held in Madrid, Spain in December 2019 by ensuring that climate action remains central to the UN Climate Change process.
In line with the SG’s identified priorities, APCW focused on the following action portfolios: Finance, Nature-Based Solutions, and Energy and Industry Transition. Theses portfolios will ensure that transformative actions are as impactful as possible in order to bridge the gap between unsatisfactory climate action ambitions and necessary climate action targets.
APCW 2019 wrapped up on Friday, with participants agreeing on a set of key takeaways on what steps urgently need to be taken for the region to be able to profit from the advantages of the transition to low carbon and resilience and the worst impacts of climate change.
A key takeaway was that Asia-Pacific Region can lead the global transformation in line with a 1.5 Celsius, climate resilient world. Holding the global average temperature rise is the central goal of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
Participants at the gathering agreed that the transformation to low carbon and resilience in Asia can be driven not only by governments, but by dynamic subnational regions and cities, an innovative private sector, political leadership and finance.
Asia Pacific Climate Week Key Messages for the UN Climate Action Summit
Youth Voices for Climate Action
For any questions regarding the YV4CA campaign, including how you or your organization can become involved, fill out the contact form here.
See the dedicated YV4CA web page here for more!