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02-09-2015 COP20 in the Media

Four Governments Present Climate Plans in Bonn


Source: UNFCCC

At the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn (31 August to 4 September), four countries presented their national climate action plans. Each of the four plans shown in Bonn was quite different, reflecting varying national circumstances.

Parties to the UNFCCC are this year submitting plans known as “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDCs) ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. Contributions received by October will be included in a synthesis report by UNFCCC secretariat on their aggregate effect, to be published on 1 November.

Here is a short overview of the four different action plans presented in Bonn this week:

Democratic Republic of the Congo – Focus on Fighting Deforestation

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) presented its INDC, which is a reduction in greenhouse gases of 17 per cent below business as usual by 2030. Some 70 per cent of the country’s population lives below the poverty line. Because of this, its INDC is “firmly rooted in the context of sustainable development and poverty reduction,” said DCR representative Tosi Mpanu Mpanu.

Ninety per cent of DRC’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the agriculture and the forestry sectors. The main source of emissions is slash-and-burn agriculture. The government is working to persuade the population to use more climate-friendly agricultural techniques and is fighting illegal logging.

Whils afforestation is central to the country’s INDC, DRC “could be a renewable energy power house”, said Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, given its huge potential for hydro-electric energy, and even help decarbonize the grids of neighboring countries such as South Africa.

However, at the moment only 5 per cent of DRC’s population has access to electricity, and most people rely on firewood for cooking. As part of its detailed INDC, the DRC is seeking support for more efficient cookstoves, and support for a raft of measure to reduce emissions from the land-use sector, along with support for a raft measures to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Sources of DRC’s emissions

Sources of DRC’s emissions

Marshall Islands - A Renewable Energy Leader

The Marshall Islands intends to reduce its GHG emissions by as much as 45 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030.

In its presentation, the small island developing state said it had learnt from the oil shock of 2008, during which the Marshall Islands was forced to declare an economic emergency since about 90 percent of its energy needs were covered by imported petroleum products.

The fuel price shock was a major incentive for the low-lying island country to reduce its reliance on diesel and other fossil fuels, and expand renewable energy.

As the country’s representative Lowell Alik said, “Our INDC is the next step down the road of weaning ourselves off fossil fuels.”

Since 2009, the Marshall Islands has been implementing policies to increase energy efficiency, improve its national grid and expand renewable forms of energy.

Almost all of the islands’ lighting runs on solar power, and further planned measures include small-scale wind-power, expanding coconut oil production for use in electricity and transport fuel and introducing electric vehicles and boats.

The INDC of the Marshall Islands also contains extensive information about disaster risk reduction.

Mr. Alik warned that while the Marshall Islands “had the potential to overperform” in terms of emissions reductions, its plan could be disrupted by the impacts of climate change.

Marshall Islands emissions trajectory

Marshall Islands emissions trajectory

New Zealand – Focus on Reducing Emissions in the Agriculture Sector

In Bonn, New Zealand’s Climate Change Ambassador Jo Tyndall said her country was committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

To do that, the country would have to primarily make changes to its agriculture sector, which accounts for 48 per cent of the country’s emissions, and make use of opportunities in land-use and forestry.

Some 80 per cent of the country’s electricity comes from renewable sources, and New Zealand intends to increase that target to 90 per cent.

To achieve its overall emissions reduction target, New Zealand will seek use of international carbon markets, “to allow us to expand our ambition beyond what we could do without markets,” said Jo Tyndall.

New Zealand has a national emissions trading system (ETS) covering all sectors, agriculture partially. The country is to begin a review of its ETS later this year.

Domestic reductions would account for a growing share of reductions over time, achieved, for example, through research to reduce methane emissions from livestock production and incentives to promote improved land management, said Ambassador Tyndall.

 Sources of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions - slide shown by Ambassador Jo Tyndall

Sources of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions - slide shown by Ambassador Jo Tyndall

Australia – Pursuing a Policy of “Direct Action”

Australia has put forward a target to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

This is an “ambitious target,” especially given the country’s “comparably higher” abatement costs, said Peter Woolcott, Australia’s Climate Change Ambassador.

Among the characteristics that set Australia apart from other developed countries is its level of reliance on fossil fuel to generate electricity.

The country burns coal, gas and oil to generate 87 per cent of its electricity, compared to about 60 per cent in the other developed countries. Australia aims to increase its electricity generation from renewables almost four-fold, to 23 per cent, by 2020.

Australia is pursuing a policy of “direct action,” supporting businesses to reduce emissions with contributions from an Emissions Reduction Fund. However, the country has “left markets on the table as an option,” mostly at the urging of Australian businesses, as a kind of “insurance” measure, said Ambassador Woolcott.

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