During the launch event, Mr. Jamal Saghir World Bank Director, Energy, Transport and Water, presented the Report to H.E Majid Al Mansouri followed by panel of experts who discussed the key finding of the report.
Al Mansouri participated in the panel session, which was chaired by Al Saghir. Other panelists include HE Abdul Elah Al Khatib, the Jordanian Former Minster of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Asma El Kasmi, Director, Arab Water Academy, and Prof. David Grey, Senior Water Advisor, World Bank.
According to the Report, developing countries can shift to lower-carbon paths while promoting development and reducing poverty. However, this depends on financial and technical assistance from high-income countries. Report authors also added that high-income countries need to act quickly to reduce their carbon footprints and boost development of alternative energy sources to help tackle climate change.
The Report, released in advance of the December meetings on climate change in Copenhagen, calls for advanced countries, which produced most of the greenhouse gas emissions of the past, to act to shape our climate future.
It also emphasizes that if developed countries act now, a ‘climate-smart’ world is feasible, and the costs for getting there will be high but still manageable. The report recommends that a key way to do this is by increasing funding for mitigation in developing countries, where most future growth in emissions will occur.
“The countries of the world must act now, act together and act differently on climate change,” said Robert B. Zoellick, World Bank President.
“Developing countries are disproportionately affected by climate change – a crisis that is not of their making and for which they are the least prepared. For that reason, an equitable deal in Copenhagen is vitally important,”
“Countries need to act now because today’s decisions determine both the climate of tomorrow and the choices that shape the future. Countries need to act together because no one nation can take on the interconnected challenges posed by climate change, and global cooperation is needed to improve energy efficiencies and develop new technologies. Countries need to act differently, because we cannot plan for the future based on the climate of the past,” he added.
“Developing countries will bear most of the costs of the damage from climate change. Many people in developing countries live in physically exposed locations and economically precarious conditions, and their financial and institutional capacity to adapt is limited, says the report. Already, policymakers in some developing countries note that an increasing amount of their development budget is being diverted to cope with weather-related emergencies,” he added.
“At the same time, 1.6 billion people in the developing world lack access to electricity, the report notes. These developing countries—whose average per capita emissions are a fraction of those of high-income countries—need massive expansions in energy, transport, urban systems, and agricultural production. Increasing access to energy and other services using high-carbon technologies will produce more greenhouse gases, hence more climate change,” he added.
The Report reveals, however, that existing low-carbon technologies and best practices could reduce energy consumption significantly, saving money. For example, the Report notes that it is possible to cut energy consumption in industry and the power sector by 20–30%, helping reduce carbon footprints without sacrificing growth. In addition, many changes to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases also deliver significant benefits in environmental sustainability, public health, energy security, and financial savings.
Avoiding deforestation, for instance, preserves watersheds and protects biodiversity, while forests can effectively serve as a carbon sink.
According to the Report, solving the climate change problem requires a transformation of the world’s energy systems in the coming decades. Research and Development investments on the order of $100 – $700bn annually will be needed—a major increase from the modest $13bn a year of public funds and $40bn to $60bn a year of private funds currently invested.
The Report added that developing countries, particularly the poorest and most exposed, will need assistance in adapting to the changing climate. Climate finance must be greatly expanded, since current funding levels fall far short of foreseeable needs.
Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), managed by the World Bank and implemented jointly with regional developing banks, offer one opportunity for leveraging support from advanced countries, since these funds can buy-down the costs of low-carbon technologies in developing countries.
“Developing countries face 75-80% of the potential damage from climate change. They urgently need help to prepare for drought, floods, and rising sea levels.
They also need to intensify agricultural productivity, contain malnutrition and disease, and build climate-resilient infrastructure,” said Justin Lin, Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of Development Economics at the World Bank.
The report says that the current financial crisis cannot be an excuse to put climate on the back burner, the report warns. While financial crises may cause serious hardship and reduce growth over the short- to medium-term, they rarely last more than a few years. The threat of a warming climate is far more severe and long-lasting.
According to the Report, the Earth’s warming climate is making the challenge of development more complicated, even as one in four people still live on less than $1.25 a day, and over a billion people do not have sufficient food to meet their daily basic nutritional needs.
“Grappling with climate shocks that are already hampering development will not be easy. But promising new energy technologies can vastly reduce future greenhouse gas emissions and prevent catastrophic climate change. We also need to manage our farms, forests, and water resources to ensure a sustainable future,”
said Rosina Bierbaum, World Development Report Co-director and Dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.
“The good news is that a ‘climate-smart’ world is within reach if we work together now to overcome inertia, keep costs down, and modify our energy, food, and risk management systems to ensure a safer future for everybody,” said Marianne Fay, World Development Report Co-director and Chief Economist for Sustainable Development at the World Bank.
“There are real opportunities to shape our climate future for an inclusive and sustainable globalization, but we need a new momentum for concerted action on climate issues before it is too late,” said Robert B. Zoellick, World Bank President.
The World Bank Group’s Strategic Framework for Development and Climate Change emphasizes mitigation and adaptation initiatives in its lending, while recognizing that developing countries need to encourage economic growth and reduce poverty.
The number of World Bank-financed studies that help client countries plan and implement low-carbon growth strategies are also growing, and the Bank’s energy financing is increasingly turning towards renewable energies and energy efficiency. Over the past three years, approximately two-thirds of the Bank’s total energy financing was in the area of non-fossil fuels whereas around one-third was for fossil fuels, of which half was for natural gas.
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