Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Fiji to participate in the India-Pacific Sustainable Development
Conference, held in its capital, Suva. The conference, which saw the participation of leaders from India, Fiji and all the other South Pacific Island Nations, also gave an opportunity to interact and discuss issues around climate change
Fiji, in many ways, is a frontline state when it comes to climate change
mitigation. As a small island nation in the South Pacific, it is vulnerable to the some of the most apparent consequences of climate change.
Rising sea levels, and unpredictable, often extremely violent climatic vagaries in the form of cyclones threaten to disrupt the economic and social fabric of the country. And as a developing nation, Fiji also has to deal with the challenges of economic development, and the need to provide its citizens with ever increasing standards of living in a sustainable way.
On the face of it, Fiji’s INDCs
(Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) towards the Paris agreement
are ambitious. Its endeavor is to reduce CO2 emissions in energy sector by about 30 percent from Business As Usual by 2030, with 2013 as reference year. There is sector specific focus electricity generation through renewable energy to reduce emissions by 20 percent. Further, 10 percent emissions reduction is envisaged through economy
wide improvements in energy efficiency. Being a vulnerable island nation, these are ambitious targets.
However, ambition is nothing without implementation and the fundamental challenge that still remains is that many developing countries, including Fiji, may lack the appropriate institutional frameworks to support implementation along with the lack of technical knowhow and access to finance, ie inadequate local capacities. Due to this many of the NDCs are not seen as robust.
have now become NDCs, the implementation phase will be useful in setting a benchmark for national development indicators, as well as demonstrating the feasibility and achievability of the contributions submitted. Combined with regular reviews and the ‘ratcheting up’ of ambition, this practical experience of implementation will support progress towards a low-carbon pathway.
One of the major challenges facing nations, especially those in the developing world, is that knowledge about how to lower the costs and increase the economic benefits of low-carbon growth is relatively new and unevenly shared across the world.
There are a few broad trends common to practically all NDCs:
A massive expansion in renewable electrical energy, especially in developing countries
There are very limited measures to decarbonise energy supply beyond the power sector
A big chunk of the total emission reduction depends on international financial support and technology transfer to developing countries
Therefore, countries have two main options for reducing their energy emissions:
One is to decarbonise their energy supply by increasing the share of (near-) zero-carbon sources - more renewables, nuclear etc
The other option is to reduce energy demand by improving energy productivity - introducing new production processes, technologies, and behaviors that use energy more efficiently
Both options will involve significant changes in a country’s power, building, transport, industry, and agriculture sectors. Putting these deceptively simple solutions into practice requires big decisions in every area of human activity, from the international and national policies shaping incentives for public and private investment to the social and individual behaviors shaping patterns of demand.
It is, thus, the need of the hour to support developing countries to find practical solutions to their NDC
implementation challenges which will require technical expertise, practical application, understanding of the wider development challenges and donors and understanding of business, investors, marketing and finance.
This, inter alia, can be provided through:
Strategic policy and implementation advice - support to government on how to implement policy measures - could be as basic as developing the regulation and tendering strategies
Customised local capacity building - strengthening local analytical and operational expertise within individual and institutions
Providing access to knowledge and experience through a global repository existing policies and programs, and lesson from these experiences relevant to the country context;
Support to help countries access climate or other international finance; and
Most importantly - South-South cooperation: Since challenges and opportunities facing developing countries are different in many ways from developed countries. I believe that solutions have to be properly rooted in each country/state’s context. While North-South links remain important for technology cooperation and finance, there is a need for a strong South-South link for policy design and implementation support.
The road to NDC implementation, thus, is not without its challenges. However, it is an opportunity to governments, think-tanks, industry and academia to work together to create robust and effective solutions that can be scaled-up domestically and replicated globally.
Karan Mangotra is a fellow at TERI