President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, in his state-of-the-nation address earlier this year, as a priority, underlined the importance of increasing requirements for energy efficiency and energy saving by enterprises, as well as the environmental friendliness and efficiency of the energy producers themselves. The implementation of this objective requires the enhancement of environmental and energy programmes at the national and regional levels and strengthening international cooperation in these areas. A dynamic acceleration to this process was the successful holding of the EXPO 2017 and Kazakhstan’s participation in the Paris Climate Agreement.
As is known, the 23rd UNFCCC Conference on global climate change (COP-23) was held in Bonn on Nov. 6-17, 2017, where all countries agreed that climate change is a real challenge for the world economy. Numerous activities of COP-23 were discussed, including low-carbon initiatives and successes at the level of sub-national actors: states, provinces, cities, companies and associations. Successes of low-carbon development and examples of solving climate problems were demonstrated.
For other Kyoto mechanisms that exist up to 2020 – Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI), – they are yet to be recommended for use, but with a number of features in the new context of the Paris Agreement. Now, emission-buying countries (mainly developed countries) must adopt nationally defined goals, and their projects will be considered primarily as a tool for promoting business and technology and not as an instrument for acquiring emission reduction units.
Future implementation mechanisms can encompass a wider range of activities that contribute to reducing emissions and sustainable development in general. Accounting for activities can be, in particular, financial resources transferred for action in another country.
It should be noted that the costs of reducing of greenhouse gas emissions for different countries and sectors of the economy will be different. Those countries where economic growth is traditionally provided by the development (expansion) of industries with high specific emissions, more significant structural and technological changes will be required, and hence more time for transition to a low-carbon development model.
World experience demonstrates that the transition to low-carbon development at the first stage will require significant financial costs. In terms of value, measures on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions include: the costs of developing and implementing high-performance, climate-friendly technologies that reduce emissions, and consumers’costs of switching from goods and services whose production and/or consumption involve significant greenhouse gas emissions, to low-emission products and services. Together, these costs and expenses are estimated to average 1 percent of global GDP and, in the worst case scenario, 3.5 percent of global GDP. It should be noted that under certain scenarios, measures on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale may not lead to a decrease, but, on the contrary, to additional GDP growth. Costs can be further reduced by increasing energy efficiency, demand management as well as through the use of energy-saving technology in the production of energy, heat and in the transport sector.
For the most developed and richest countries the agreement will optimise their financial and technological role in the global effort. As for the less developed countries, but with a large carbon potential, such as China, Brazil, Turkey, the financial component of agreement is secondary for them, since international assistance is relatively small or approximately equal to their help to weaker states. The economy of these countries depends significantly on the global trend on development of low-carbon, and, to a large extent, they shape it by themselves, especially China.
For Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA), then for the Trans-Caucasian countries, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, the agreement should be a powerful factor of international support; and for Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, it should help their integration into the global investment process and encourage a deep modernisation of economy structure.
International experts have identified at least three trends within the framework of the Paris Agreement, which now underpin and strengthen its implementation.
Firstly, planning the development of economy and energy taking into account possible changes in the 2020-2040. In many cases, it leads to delays in the approval of international and national projects while maintaining the current situation would have been profitable.
Second, introduction of carbon price (fees for greenhouse gas emissions in a particular stimulating form), carried out or expected in the future, which shifts the competitiveness of various projects and trade flows. This is clearly demonstrated by the results of bilateral meetings of major issuers (China, the U.S., the EU and India).
Third, a global trend towards choosing low-carbon solutions, if they are not more expensive than traditional solutions, when the planning horizon is set for 20-30 years. This is clearly confirmed by signing partnership deals and the choice of investment options in virtually all countries of the world and in state and private companies in all sectors of economy.
In general, COP-23 has achieved the understanding of the leading role of global low-carbon development trends and its impact on the economy. The outcome document, the Fijian moment for implementation (Fiji was chair of COP-23), reflects the need to accelerate work on the set of rules of the Paris Agreement and its adoption at the COP-24, the organisation of special session of the subsidiary bodies in the second half of the 2018, Dialogue-2018 on consideration of the actions and goals of countries in the field of greenhouse gas emissions and the summing at COP-24 of the intermediate results of activities of countries until 2020. As a result of COP-23, the 20th partnership initiatives were presented, including cities, infrastructure, transport, waste, education, risks assessment, financial support and tools.
The famous environment partnership initiative presented by Kazakhstan on the global level is the Green Bridge Partnership Programme (GBPP) proposed by President Nazarbayev at the 66th Session of the UN General Assembly in 2011. This initiative was entered to the final declaration of the UN Summit in 2012. The GBPP was also supported at the sub-regional conferences by ESCAP, UNECE, ISESCO and was supported by more than 120 states of Europe, Asia and the Pacific. The reason for this interest in the GBPP is its potential to support the transition to a green economy and sustainable development, including the following.
The international status establishes a more reliable political and legal framework for long-term green investments and additional guarantees for investors in conditions of political instability in countries with economies in transition. Agreements on projects that have been granted a status of the GBPP – between countries and investors – must be long-term, and international agreements must not depend on changes of governments, decision-makers or withdrawals from international agreements (similar to agreements of UN, EU, WB, etc.).
It establishes a broader regional and inter-sectoral basis for mutually beneficial cooperation (water-energy-food-climate). Within the GBPP, there are mutually beneficial regional agreements between countries on interregional green business and trade with maximum productivity of water, energy, land or in sharing ecosystem services among Eurasian countries, for example, within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
It allows to create more trustful business environment, to involve additional parties for mutually beneficial solutions of problems, i.e. go out in search of solutions beyond the limited formats of regional agreements (IFAS, ICWC, etc.).
It creates a more professional basis for analytical work and searching for best solutions through participation of authoritative and internationally recognised experts of the GBPP, working groups, including elimination of cases of lobbying for “dirty” technologies, equipment or environmentally unfriendly programmes and laws.
It provides a special status of international expertise of projects and technologies that have a status of the GBPP – international, professional and neutral. This expertise will substantially complement the capacity of local, national and regional organisations in the interests of saving budgetary and other resources as well as to prevent mistakes in implementing green reforms, procurement, etc.
Presently, the GBPP Charter has been signed by 16 countries and 16 NGOs from Kazakhstan, Russia, Finland, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, Austria, Turkey, Estonia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
The GBPP and Paris Climate Agreement have a common goal – the need to find joint solutions to the problems of the transition to low-carbon development and adaptation to climate change. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollution is one of the main areas of the GBPP at the global level.
In this regard, Kazakhstan could re-start activity in GBPP promotion in terms of the Paris Climate Agreement implementation and to suggest to UNFCCC to register this global Partnership. This step will allow Kazakhstan to strengthen cooperation with global financial institutions and to join Dialogue-2018 in terms of COP-24.
The author is a member of the Green Council under President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Director of the Green Academy Scientific-Education Centre.