'Momentum for Change' at UN Durban Meet

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UNFCCC LogoBy Jerome Mwanda 
IDN-InDepth NewsReport

NAIROBI (IDN) - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and South African President Jacob Zuma will launch a new initiative entitled 'Momentum for Change' at the global climate change conference in Durban on December 6, 2011.

The initiative, designed to demonstrate how the public and private sectors are already working together to fight climate change, will be inaugurated during the 17th conference of parties (COP17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – and the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP7) – which kicked off in Durban on November 28.

Projects that will be showcased under the Initiative include the retrieval of valuable drinking water from mining activities, the distribution of clean cook stoves in African countries, providing farmers in the Horn of Africa with micro-insurance against crop failure resulting from droughts and floods, and the use of solar "bottle lights" to bring light into homes in the Philippines.

These "Lighthouse Projects" are considered as beacons of opportunity, pointing the direction towards fulfilling the objectives of the Convention. The first stage of the Initiative is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Key criteria for the selection of the projects should:

-- Address climate change mitigation or adaptation, and benefit the urban poor in developing countries (particularly within Africa, Asia and Latin America).

-- Be the result of collaboration between a public entity (national, sub-national or local government) and a private entity (private company, NGO, or civil society organization).

-- Have the potential to be both replicable and scalable.

-- Be already implemented or under implementation, with concrete results achieved at the time of submission.

-- Generate impacts that are measurable, whether through emission reductions, improved living standards and resilience to climate change, or some other recognizable metric.

-- Not be registered or intended to be registered as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) or Joint Implementation (JI) project.

Kyoto Protocol Mechanisms Opening of COP17 and CMP7

CDM allows a country with an emission-reduction or emission-limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to implement an emission-reduction project in developing countries. Such projects can earn saleable certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting Kyoto targets.

The mechanism is seen by many as a trailblazer. It is the first global, environmental investment and credit scheme of its kind, providing a standardized emissions offset instrument, CERs.

A CDM project activity might involve, for example, a rural electrification project using solar panels or the installation of more energy-efficient boilers.

The mechanism stimulates sustainable development and emission reductions, while giving industrialized countries some flexibility in how they meet their emission reduction or limitation targets.

The JI allows a country with an emission reduction or limitation commitment under the Kyoto Protocol to earn emission reduction units (ERUs) from an emission-reduction or emission removal project in another Annex B Party, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting its Kyoto target.

Joint implementation offers Parties a flexible and cost-efficient means of fulfilling a part of their Kyoto commitments, while the host Party benefits from foreign investment and technology transfer.

Action on Climate Change

Explaining the significance of the 'Momentum for Change' initiative, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said: "People in developing countries are more willing to take action on climate change when they are at the same time able to reduce poverty. It is therefore essential that awareness is created about these beacons of opportunity, which shed a light on what people are doing on the ground at national, regional and local level to creatively and effectively respond to the challenge."

"Given that many people and organizations are already doing fantastic work, I believe that governments can take heart and be more ambitious in their national and international climate policies when they see to what extent curbing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing poverty can be two sides of the same coin," Figueres said.

"It is essential that progress is made both on climate finance and curbing emissions in Durban. And governments need to get a better sense of what is possible, given the right type of support," she added.

Similar showcase events are to be held at UN climate change conferences over the next three years. Virtual products, such as online videos, are to be used alongside physical events in order to ensure the widest possible dissemination and engagement with stakeholders, UNFCCC secretariat said.

The UNFCCC secretariat is seeking to build momentum for the evolving climate regime by enhancing the visibility of successful adaptation or mitigation projects on the ground that measurably improve the quality of life of the people they benefit, and which have a potential to be replicable and taken to scale.

The set of criteria for inclusion in the initiative will be further developed after Durban, and used by an independent panel which will select projects for 2012 and beyond, UNFCCC secretariat said.


The Initiative will work closely with partners who are spearheading mitigation and adaptation efforts on the ground. Partners, chosen for their suitability, will include United Nations (UNEP, UN Habitat, UNDP, among others), relevant organizations active at national, sub-national or regional level, as well as private sector companies such as those participating in the Caring for Climate programme of the UN Global Compact and constituencies through which private sector companies are represented.

Projects showcased in Durban

The selected projects to be presented in Durban include projects both on adaptation and mitigation to climate change mostly in Africa, but also in other developing countries. These include:

-- Adaptation and Mitigation. Reforestation of a landfill site in Durban, which is building on the efforts to offset the 2010 World Cup. This project is also designed to engage the local community by training ‘Tree-preneurs’ to manage the reforestation and creating jobs.

-- Adaptation and Mitigation. Planting trees in Uganda, through partnerships between regional governments, for improvements in coffee farming practices and raising awareness among the communities in the participating regions.

-- Adaptation. Water reclamation from mining activities in South Africa, which has already supplied 22 billion litres of drinking water to a community where water availability is already becoming increasingly unreliable.

-- Adaptation. Water harvesting for schools in the Seychelles, allowing savings in water costs, reinvesting into the school budget, raising awareness and running engagement programmes. The success of this initiative is being scaled up to the National Government policy level.

-- Adaptation. Micro-insurance for farmers in the Horn of Africa, providing them with the security of a pay-out in the case of extreme weather events that prevents them from harvesting a self-sustaining crop.

-- Mitigation. Distribution of clean cookstoves in Africa, changing the lives of thousands, with the goal of millions, of women and families by improving air quality, reducing the need to deforest and search for firewood whilst also significantly mitigating household carbon emissions.

-- Mitigation. Use of solar bottle lights in galvanized iron houses in the Philippines. Plastic bottles are re-used to serve as 'lightbulbs', bringing light into homes that would otherwise be in darkness. The programme will have reached 200,000 beneficiaries this year.

-- Mitigation. Scaling up solar power in India, through the implementation of a National Solar Mission that seeks to promote investments in solar energy, with an initial wave of projects totalling 5-10MW. This first phase has laid the groundwork for larger projects and will help develop financial instruments to enable further investments.

-- Mitigation. Improving public transportation services in Curitiba, Brazil, with intelligent transport solutions. Through electronic monitoring, routes, time spent at stops, speed, distance traveled, and times for arrival and departure, the public transport fleet is more efficiently deployed. These improvements result in greater customer satisfaction, improved security and safety and reduced fuel used.

-- Mitigation. Using solar LED street lighting to provide a high quality, sustainable lighting solution for people in remote areas of Guiyang, China. Solar energy is stored in batteries as electrical energy, providing street lighting to areas which do not have access to the conventional electricity grid. [IDN-InDepthNews – November 28, 2011]

Image: Opening of COP17 and CMP7 | Credit: UNFCC

2011 IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters

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