‘Climate policy and financial institutions’

Abstract: This article examines how financial institutions, such as pension funds and insurance companies, have interpreted and used UN-issued climate change management policies. A critical discourse approach is used to analyse material issued by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the World Bank Group and some business and investment consultancies, with interview data supplementing the document analysis. It is argued that although policymakers and business consultants have been eager to appropriate the discourses of financial services, they have not produced guidance on how the outputs of climate science might best be used to allocate managed capital. In terms of outcomes, financial services remain on the periphery of policy implementation, attention has been deflected from the emitters of greenhouse gases, and policy objectives have been frustrated. By unspoken fiat, the market is here the new truth that cannot be contradicted.

Full Citation: Grubb, M. (2011). Climate policy and financial institutions. Climate Policy, 11 (6): 1367-1385 (Available with subscription from: http://earthscan.publisher.ingentaconnect.com/content/earthscan/cpol/2011/00000011/00000006/art00008). 

‘The Complex Web of Climate Finance Decisions in Durban’

by Liane Schalatek, Associate Director of the Heinrich Boell Foundation North America. 

Ever since developed countries in Copenhagen at COP 15 pledged significant short- and long-term financial support to help developing countries achieve their climate action goals, the discourse about climate finance – on how to fulfill the pledges from what sources, on which institutional channels to use or create, on how to balance and rationalize the global climate finance architecture and on whether and how to align the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of climate finance with that of emissions reductions – has been a dominant driver of the multilateral climate negotiation process. COP 17 in Durban starting this Monday will be no different. By some counts no fewer than seven or eight distinct decisions relating to climate finance are on the Durban schedule, all of them interwoven and interlinked in a complex web of conditionalities, reciprocities and political gamesmanship with the larger Durban negotiation package. The most prominent one, , the pivot in the view of many insiders, will be the confirmation of the design for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the approval of a transitional process as well as initial funding for its set-up by the parties. Without the GCF and its secured financial sustainability, there will be no Durban package.

While the Durban decision on the GCF undoubtedly holds the key to unlocking a number of other important negotiation issues, it is by no means the only relevant climate finance one. Four bodies under the climate framework convention will be dealing with financing topics in Durban; these are the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI), the Ad-hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action (AWG-LCA), the Conference of Parties (COP), and the Kyoto Protocol meeting of parties (CMP). All these bodies will meet in parallel. Some finance issues are more routine than rallying cry. Yet, others go to the heart of Article 4.3 of the UNFCCC, which defines the financial responsibility of Annex II countries. Solving these climate finance issues will be crucial for any real progress in Durban, although the prospects are not very promising.

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‘No Romance: Mobilizing Climate Finance for Africa’

Climate finance has recently become a subject of profound interest to the global debates on climate change. At this year’s 17th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP) in Durban, climate finance is expected to feature prominently. This being the “African COP”, we hope that the African perspective on climate finance will receive the attention it deserves.

While Africa has contributed the least to historic greenhouse gas emissions globally, it stands to be the hardest hit by the effects of climate change.

Climate change will affect many parts of the continent causing drastic reduction in agricultural productivity while exposing its people to water stress, droughts, floods and localised outbreaks of vector-borne diseases. Addressing climate change is therefore an urgent issue and Africa will require substantial financial resources in order to adapt to the unavoidable consequences of climate change.

However, the current models of financing do not match Africa’s climate change priorities. With approximately 80 percent of all climate finance directed to mitigation, adaptation, which is a priority for Africa, remains grossly underfunded.

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‘Kyoto extension a ‘tall order’, says UN’s Figueres’

Engineering News, 27 November 2011 

Establishing a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol is a “tall order” for governments, and is the most difficult issue at the seventeenth Conference of the Parties, or COP 17, meeting, which gets under way in Durban this week, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres said on Sunday.

She said that there would be a serious effort in Durban to move towards a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol legally binds signatory developed countries to emission reduction targets. The first commitment period started in 2008 and terminates at the end of 2012.

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New Report – ‘Green Jobs: An Estimate of the Direct Employment Potential of a Greening South African Economy’

The greening of the South African economy has the potential to create more than 460 000 new direct jobs by 2025, according to the Green Jobs report released earlier today by the IDC, DBSA and TIPS.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, emphasised the green economy’s importance as a lever to grow local industrial capacity and create sustainable jobs. The greening of an economy can present substantial opportunities for the creation of sustainable employment through the introduction of new activities in the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. “The experience of several advanced and emerging countries that have been adopting green initiatives point toward an extraordinary opportunity for South Africa as it pursues a job-rich new growth path.”

“As a considerable emitter of greenhouse gases, South Africa faces the challenge of transitioning to a less carbon-intensive growth trajectory without delay. In short, our challenge is to use less carbons and more people in our economic growth. This is what we mean by a new growth path,” remarked Patel.

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‘Upscaling renewables beyond IRP allocations will drive green jobs – report’

Engineering News, 25 November 2011 

A new ‘Green Jobs’ report estimates that some 130 023 direct jobs could be created by South Africa’s renewable energy sector by 2025, but only if the renewables allocation outlined in the current Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010-2030 is materially expanded.

The IRP for electricity, which was released earlier this year, envisages that independent power producers (IPPs) and State utility Eskom will build a combined renewables base of 17 800 MW by 2030, or about 42% of the new generation capacity to be added by that date.

But a new report, produced jointly by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), argues that the potential for concentrated solar power (CSP) is larger than that envisaged in the current version of the IRP, as is the case for a number of other technologies not currently covered by the generation plan.


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‘Addressing Grand Challenges for Global Sustainability: Monitoring, Forecasting, and Governance of Urban Systems’

This sixth issue of UGEC Viewpoints highlights how the dimension of urbanization and global change fits into the envisaged objectives and scientific agenda of the new ICSU-supported Earth System Sustainability Initiative (ESSI). The five Grand Challenges posed by ESSI (forecasting, observing, confining, responding, and innovating) are areas to which UGEC project researchers and practitioners are increasingly turning their attention and this current issue showcases several examples. In particular, we include articles that are representative of the work occurring within the UGEC network, address three of the five major challenges posed by the ESSI, and apply them to urban systems.

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‘As the COP 17 clock counts down, few signs of global consensus emerge’

Engineering News, 18 November 2011 

Some scientists are warning that development progress in the world’s poorest countries could be halted or even reversed by midcentury unless bold steps are taken to slow climate change, prevent further environmental damage, and reduce deep inequalities within and among nations.

In fact, this view is outlined in some detail in the United Nations Development Programme’s ‘2011 Human Development Report’, which was launched in the lead-up to South Africa hosting the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) seventeenth Conference of the Parties (COP 17), in Durban.

It states that, by 2050, the average human development index could be between 12% and 15% lower than the current baseline in sub-Saharan Africa than would be the case if efforts were made to deal with global warming’s impact on food production and if inroads could be made to reduce pollution.

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‘Waste management strategy to create new jobs’

Engineering News, 14 November 2011 

South Africa’s National Waste Management Strategy (NWMS), which Cabinet last week approved for implementation, would generate and sustain jobs, as well as formalise existing jobs in the waste economy, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa said on Monday.

The NWMS aims to create 69 000 new jobs in the waste sector and have 2 600 additional small and medium-sized enterprises and cooperatives participating in waste service delivery and recycling by 2015.

The NWMS is structured against a framework of eight goals with set targets for 2016.

The eight goals included promoting waste minimisation, reuse, recycling and recovery of waste; ensuring effective and efficient delivery of waste service and growing the contribution of the waste sector to the green economy.

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New Release – ‘World Energy Outlook 2011′

The 2011 edition of the World Energy Outlook was released on 9 November and brings together the latest data, policy developments, and the experience of another year to provide robust analysis and insight into global energy markets, today and for the next 25 years. This edition of the IEA’s flagship WEO publication gives the latest energy demand and supply projections for different future scenarios, broken down by country, fuel and sector.

It also gives special focus to such topical energy sector issues as Russia’s energy prospects and their implications for global markets; the role of coal in driving economic growth in an emissions-constrained world; how high-carbon infrastructure “lock-in” is making the 2°C climate change goal more challenging and expensive to meet; the scale of fossil fuel subsidies and support for renewable energy and their impact on energy, economic and environmental trends; or the scale and type of investment needed to provide modern energy to the billions of the world’s poor that do not have it.

WEO-2011 further analyses some of the most pressing issues faced by the energy world this year by looking at the implications of a possible delay in oil and gas sector investment in the Middle East and North Africa and also by presenting a “Low Nuclear Case” to investigate what a rapid slowdown in the use of nuclear power would mean for the global energy landscape. 

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