Global Trends of Low-Carbon Development

Kazakhstan signed the Paris Agreement on climate change Aug. 2 in New York. This document confirms the consistency and commitment of the country to comply with international commitments on climate change. The Astana Times discussed modern trends in global low-carbon development, as well as the prospects for achieving Kazakhstan’s national commitments, with a member of the Council on transition to green economy, director of the Green Academy Scientific Research and Education Centre and Doctor of Economics Professor Bakhyt Yessekina.

Конференция 2016-302

Bakhyt Yessekina

 Global trends

On Sept. 21, 2016, a special meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on the ratification of the Paris Agreement will be held in New York, which will be comprised of countries that already have ratified it (today they number 20), as well as those that plan the ratification of this international document. According to the chairman of the Paris conference, French Minister of Environment, Energy and Marine Resources Ségolène Royal, in order to demonstrate to the world the importance of climate change, “our moral obligation is to ensure early ratification of the agreement… by 55 countries, responsible for 55 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.”

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), even the annual postponement of the active actions to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for stabilisation of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere will inevitably lead to the increase of the global economy costs for its achievement by $1 trillion and to the shrinking of the global GDP by 1.9 percent by 2030. Intergovernmental Commission of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC) experts expect that the damage to the world economy from climate change will be about $1.5 trillion. In order to reduce the cost, countries have to reduce carbon combustion by about 4 percent annually until 2050.

Breakthrough Institute experts have analysed the energy data of 26 developed countries from 1971-2006 and revealed that the rate of decarbonisation de facto amounts to about 1.3 percent. The countries that have achieved real progress towards decarbonisation of the economy are Sweden (3.6 percent), Ireland (3.2 percent), the United Kingdom and France (2.8 percent).

In 2015, the world’s leading countries announced their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) commitments to reduce emissions and the measures for their achievement. For example, the United States government adopted a Clean Power Plan, according to which the GHG emissions from the energy sector have to be reduced by 17 percent compared to 2005 levels. Further, in the case of the adoption of legislation on climate and energy, it is expected to decrease the level of emissions by 30 percent and 42 percent by 2025 and 2030, respectively, while the ultimate goal is 83 percent by 2050. This is a fairly strict regulation for the US energy sector.

The European Union (EU) anticipates reducing GHG emissions by 20 percent compared to 1990 levels. In the case of adoption of the comparable obligations by other developed countries and an adequate contribution of developing countries, the EU is ready to increase the liabilities (i.e. to reduce emissions) by 30 percentby 2030. Japan plans to reduce emissions by 25 percent compared to 1990 levels if implementation of the Paris Agreement will involve all major emitters of country emissions. China has committed to reducing the carbon intensity of GDP by 40-45 percent compared to 2005 levels and to increase the share of carbon-free fuels in primary energy consumption by approximately 15 percent.

Within the framework of the Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project of the Institute of Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI, France), the group of independent experts has developed the low-carbon development strategies for 15 major carbon-producing countries such as Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and the US.

The projected trajectories of decarbonisation of the largest world economies show that current ongoing CO2 emission growth will continue until 2030. The final trend of reduction of the use of carbon-energy sources is expected after 2030, during the period of the implementation of decarbonisation policies. Studies reveal that decarbonisation will require only 0.06 percent of global GDP each year until the end of the century. In case of delay, investment losses are expected to be in the amount of $1 trillion until 2020 and $4.30 trillion after 2030.

In general, country strategies involve regulation and comprehensive measures of “purification” of the national economy from carbon by sharp emissions reduction, introduction of the carbon market, innovative green technologies, etc. to maintain the level of global warming within 2°C.


Prospects for achieving Kazakhstan’s national commitments

International obligations of Kazakhstan in the field of climate change are regulated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol and Paris agreements, according to which Kazakhstan has to reduce GHG emissions in the amount of 15 percent and 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2030. As Climate Action Tracker has estimated, the declared liabilities of Kazakhstan can be attributed to moderate. This group includes the obligation of countries such as Brazil, China, the EU, India, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Switzerland and the US.

Currently, after the signing of the Paris Agreement Kazakhstan plans its ratification, which will be followed by researching ways for execution of national obligations and overcoming potential risks, which in turn will require the adoption of drastic measures to modernise all sectors of the national economy.

The discussion of these measures and mechanisms for implementation were discussed during the fourth meeting of the Council on the transition to green economy under the President of Kazakhstan, which was held in early July in Astana with participation of members from the government, scientists, businesses, international organisations and NGOs.

The participants of the meeting consider that fulfilment of the stated commitments to reduce the GHG emissions requires the development of a coherent strategy on transition to low-carbon development, which is comprised of comprehensive energy efficiency measures for all sectors of the economy, the development of renewable energy sources and improvement of the national emissions trading scheme (ETS).

Studies conducted by the Green Academy indicate that the most effective technological solutions that ensure both economic growth and emissions reduction include the transition to low-carbon or carbon-free fuels, decarbonisation of electricity generation, electrification of the economy and individual industries (transport, construction), improving efficiency of energy production and consumption, the use of carbon capture and storage technologies and the use of biofuels and other renewable energy sources. A special role is given to the task of preserving and increasing the CO2 absorption capacity in forestry and land use.

One of the crucial decisions in promotion of low-carbon technologies will be the establishment of the International Green Technologies Centre on the basis of EXPO 2017 under the UN umbrella, which should become an international hub for the transfer of new technologies, knowledge and know-how in the field of climate technologies.

To sum up, it should be noted that the accession of Kazakhstan to the global climate agreement should be seen as an opportunity to modernise and diversify not only the energy industry, but also the entire economy of the country in order to enter the club of the globally competitive countries and to ensure the sustainability and improvement of the quality of life of present and future generations.

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