Five actions to ensure the Paris climate agreement is a success


By Nick Moss

After a long drawn out process, spanning years and several continents, a global climate deal was finally agreed in Paris earlier this month. The debate about the merits of the deal will no doubt rage on, but most will agree that the agreement contains the ambition to move the world towards a low carbon future, which will benefit everyone.

However, realising this ambition so that it will have real impact on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable to climate change, is a huge challenge. I believe there are five important things for development partners to focus on in supporting developing countries between now and 2020, when the agreement comes into force.

1. Develop investment strategies for the INDCs

One of the successes of the climate deal has been the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), each of which publicly outlines what post-2020 climate actions countries intend to take. A total of 187 countries submitted INDCs, many with quantified emissions targets and broad adaptation goals, representing more than 98% of total global carbon emissions.

Turning the INDCs into investable actions will be critical to realising the emissions reduction potential in each. An important first step will be converting the INDCs into implementable policies and priority projects, with investment strategies setting out financing, capacity building, and technology development needs. This will ensure development partners can identify where they need to provide technical assistance, and help to mobilise public and private finance.

2. Assist countries to improve access to climate finance

The Paris agreement aims to mobilise at least $100 bn per year from public and private sources by 2020. However, the requirements of climate funds, like the Green Climate Fund, are often different to traditional aid; financial and delivery institutions struggle to get accreditation, so accessing these funds can often be more difficult for developing countries.

A lack of access to funds will hinder implementation of INDCs. More should be done to support the accreditation of financial institutions and delivery partners. Donors should also look to other instruments to disburse finance such as funds and technical assistance facilities and more novel approaches. For example, mechanisms which blend different types of finance, such as loans and grants, to channel funds to projects.

3. Work with businesses to scale up climate smart products and services

Businesses can provide innovation, financing, infrastructure, and a consumer base to support the scale up of climate smart products and services, such as renewable technology. But achieving this in some developing country contexts is much more difficult. Markets can be underdeveloped, businesses often lack the expertise, and supporting services as simple as ICT are weak or non-existent.

While some initiatives to incubate climate smart businesses exist, more must be done to target country specific constraints faced by business. Development partners and governments can support this in a number of ways, for example, conducting market research, developing relevant business support services and assisting with the development of appropriate policies and regulations that facilitate innovation.

4. Build new partnerships to stimulate innovation and ensure delivery

Regional and subnational institutions, including local/municipal governments have shown great ambition in supporting mitigation efforts, many forming coalitions or partnerships with non-state actors to push forward emission reduction commitments. These new partnerships bring together stakeholders with different expertise, experiences and resources, who can identify novel solutions.

With the availability of new and additional finance from various sources, including public and private sources, it will be important to continue to engage a variety of new stakeholders to develop solutions. These platforms for collaboration are essential. Development partners should do more to facilitate partnerships that provide adequate financial resources and technical support.

5. Improve coordination of investments and technical assistance

‘Donor coordination’ is a commonly used term, but is still poorly applied in practice. Now, it is especially critical with potentially large amounts of new finance available over the next five years. With donors all clamouring to invest in mitigation and adaptation activities post-COP, serious consideration needs to be given to what to invest in, how and when.

Without well-structured coordination there is a risk that certain investments could lead to distortions in the markets for other low carbon interventions. Development partners need to create forums in which to plan investments and coordinate technical assistance, while national governments need support in directing donor funds and programmes to ensure ongoing national development strategies are aligned with the INDCs.

The Paris Agreement presents a huge opportunity to support developing countries to move towards low carbon, climate resilient growth. However the deal’s ambition of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below two degrees” will not be realised without the concerted efforts of development partners, governments and non-state actors. The hard work starts now.