It is obvious now that the world of climate change policies will not be the same as we knew it for the past 20 years. Durban’s COP 17 has ended the differentiation between developed (Annex 1) and developing countries (Non Annex 1) in terms of climate obligations. It is only a matter of time, and arm twisting in negotiations until developing countries (including Arab countries from Saudi Arabia to Mauritania) will have to develop sound climate policies.
While Arab countries have been hiding for ages under the slogan of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities” for shying away from any climate change obligations, they have to wake up to face a new world. A world that will contain the dirty word that no one wants to say or hear, the famous ‘M” word that stands for Mitigation.
The last two COPs under the UNFCCC have strengthened the need to develop what is so politically called ‘Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions” (NAMAs) which will have to include specific plans for mitigating Greenhouse Gas emissions from developing countries, subject to their own socio-economic conditions and the availability of funding and technology transfer from developed countries and the developing countries’ own resources.
Arab climate policy makers will have to enter a new territory where mitigation and not only adaptation must be mainstreamed in the national planning context and be officially communicated to UNFCC. This is NOT a disaster, nor an outcome of a global conspiracy from developed countries against our emerging economies. It is a step that has to be taken and we should better think of it very soon. This is how I think a national mitigation policy can be developed safely and without impacting Arab countries’ quest for development.
For any Arab country that is still pursuing socio-economic development and growth, any climate change mitigation plan should be opportunity-based and focus on low-cost mitigation option (low-hanging fruits). Such a plan should be able to support a transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy without jeopardizing development gains.
The major process for developing a realistic mitigation plan for an Arab country could include the following steps:
1- Continuous monitoring and analyses of political, policy, economic, social and technological trends in the major mitigation sectors (energy/transport, wastes, agriculture, industries, land use, etc…) to identify challenges and opportunities for GHG mitigation.
2- Analysis of the legal framework of the mitigation sectors and how appropriate it is for mitigation measures and recommending modifications.
3- Conducting the GHG emissions inventory that identifies major emission sectors and the contribution of each sector to the overall national GHG emissions and trends with the latest available figures.
4- Conducting a mitigation analysis by determining a baseline scenario and a mitigation scenario with all associated political, technological, economic and social factors integrated.
5- Development of the comprehensive mitigation plan focusing on opportunities (energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste-to-energy systems, green buildings, technology transfer, sustainable agriculture, etc…) and determining the reduction unit cost for each sector.
6- Identification of mitigation opportunities associated with the global Climate Change governance system that could enhance access to financial and technological resources to enhance mitigation. This will include a major focus on CDM and other UNFCCC-related instruments.
7- Publishing the suggested mitigation programme as a policy document that targets decision makers, investors, donors and the civil society. This policy document should identify and highlight available opportunities for mitigation and propose public support mechanisms in the form of economic incentives, subsidies, legislative reforms, institutional empowerment and technological support.
8- Establishing a national representative platform to discuss the mitigation programme and turning it into a detailed national plan.
9- Preparation of the national mitigation plan 2013-2020 with key performance indicators, logical framework analysis, financial allocations and targets, institutional responsibilities and monitoring & evaluation plan. The plan should be divided into short term and long term objectives as well as sub-national components (cities, governorates). The plan should also include detailed pilot projects and options for investing in research and development aspects for the emergence of local innovations for mitigation technologies.
10- Publishing and endorsing the national mitigation plan at the Cabinet level and providing it with the necessary political support.
11- Exploration of new and emerging opportunities for mitigation in the post-Kyoto global governance framework including REDD+.
12- Exploring the possibility of establishing a GHG database where GHG emissions are voluntarily reported and documented to identify trends, threats and opportunities for rapid mitigation action.
13- Processing the mitigation plan into education, learning and awareness products directed at the community to mobilize support and understanding.
14- Proposition of an independent monitoring and evaluation system for the mitigation plan. Both government and civil society will be empowered to report back on the progress of the plan using measurable and realistic indicators on annual basis and compiling results in official (governmental) and non-official monitoring reports that include lessons learned and opportunities for improvement.
I don’t think this is impossible to achieve, do you?