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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 13th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Mr. Robert Orr is Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning with the Executive Office of the Secretary General.

Mr. Orr pointed out that the September 23 date was carved out by moving back by one day the UN General Assembly which makes for great timing because on the day of September 22 there are two additional High Level meetings at the UN – so it is convenient for having the largest number of Heads of State present.

The three hours briefing to the Missions to the UN was held Monday February 10, 2014 10:00 -13:00 by Mr. Orr flanked by principals from UNISDR (International Strategy for Disaster Reduction), UN Habitat, UNEP, UNDP, and the World Bank.

ISDR was created in December 1999 as part of the UN Secretariat with the purpose of ensuring the implementation of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. We assume that finding ways to avoid the effects of Climate Change because of Global Warming ought to be one of their main concerns. Among the topics they seem to focus on at this time are: Climate Resilient Cities (partnering with Habitat); Worldwide Initiative for Safe Schools and Health Facilities; and Innovations in Finance for Resilience – “Public and Private Finance Sector Tools and Instruments that Promote Resilience to Disasters.” Their office in New York will collect ideas about innovations in the Financial System, in Accounting, in microfinancing – here specially in helping governments work with their farmers with an eye on food and hunger. They want to have partnerships already in preparatory meetings.
Their point man is Mr. Glenn Dolcemascolo and he can be reached at  UN.org

I start my reporting with ISDR first, not because they were the first to speak – no they were not – but because I felt that they showed best the intent of the September Summit. They were all business – making it clear that to attack the subject of “risk” this is a private business issue and will have to be tackled with partnerships. They work with Insurance companies, investment funds and the UN affiliated global compact.

Mr. Orr kept stressing that the Summit will be a solutions-focused Summit. It will not have a negotiated outcome but it will be an enabling tool on the UNFCCC negotiating process.

Amazingly – he expects to fit into this single day four different components:

(1) A Plenary where Heads of State can put forward bold programs they intend for their States or for groups of States.  As there are 193 Heads of State and not much time available – it seems the organizers hope for Groups of State Spokesmen and only short announcements from those that have action examples to report on.

(2) Action Platforms for government, finance, business, and civil society announcements. It seems he hopes to have here technical people announcing “concrete” multi-lateral initiatives.

(3) Thematic Sessions to enable the sharing of innovative practice and policy on CLIMATE.

(4) An Outreach and Engagement Platform for “Communications and Networking” – this in order to reach “Beyond the UN walls.”

The Summit will pay attention to geography and will provide balance between mitigation and adaptation drawn from the “potential announcements available.”

The criteria for inclusion are:

(i) contributes to new, substantive, scalable and/or replicable actions to reduce emissions or strengthen resiliency;

(ii) drives to a low-carbon economy, reduces economic risks, advances economic opportunities;

(iii) takes a multi-stakeholder approach, engages governments, finance, business, and civil society

(iv) builds on existing efforts, initiatives, programmes.

 

The participant for UNDP Development Policy, the first to speak after Mr. Orr,  spoke mainly on the Forest Fund and their attention is on Land Use and Forests. The target being changing effects of deforestation with the help of private forestry and enhanced pledges to avoid deforestation.  Their point man in the process towards the September Summit is our old friend Mr. Charles McNeill  UNDP.org

 

They were followed by UNEP’s New York Representative who started by saying that CH4 is 84 times more potent then CO2 – so their focus for September is on Methane and black carbon from gas operations and motor-vehicle tail-pipes. They have already three oil companies, and others  committed and he mentioned also the Royal Bank of Sweden. They stressed the importance of working with the Oil & Gas industry and kept mentioning that some of the companies start to cooperate. This was a very unusual UNEP. Nevertheless, they also spoke of Green Trade Global System to reduce trade of Black Carbon with industry targets.

Also – a second topic for UNEP is Energy Efficiency and the vision that it has a positive economic impact. With existing technologies – lighting, buildings, transportation, made more efficient, can save a lot of oil – and figures were mentioned. This was closer to the old UNEP. The point person for September at UNEP is Ms. Merlyn Van Voore Merlyn,VanVoore@UNEP.org

 

Now spoke UNISDR – then followed by UN HABITAT.       Yamina Djacta, Deputy Director General and Officer in Charge of the HABITAT New York Office, started by mentioning Mayor Bloomberg’s visit recently, on behalf of the UN, at the meeting of local governments that was held in Johannesburg and said that the centrality of business is being recognized now in cities. Local authorities in cities can contribute to National targets she said – and also to save resources. Cities plan to decrease emissions and we will see Climate Action commitments prepared for September. Habitat is calling for low carbon targets reporting by local/subnational authorities. This in itself is quite revolutionary at the UN.

Also, with ISDR, Habitat works on 500 Climate Resilient Species to help build resilient cities she said.
The point person for UN HABITAT for September isMr. Robert Kehew  unhabitat.org

Next, and last was the World Bank. The spokesperson was Jane Olga Ebinger, an Energy Specialist – Health, Safety and Environment – and now manager for the Climate Policy and Finance Team of the Bank. She was the only one that is not a New York City resident and in effect also not a direct UN person. This was made clear several times.

The Bank’s interest is in “Public-Private partnerships and innovative market mechanisms to unlock climate finance.” The bank will try to focus the minds of finance ministers and of private financial institutions – via the economic “drivers” for climate finance.

She wants to build country coalitions to make climate smart economic and business decisions – To help evaluate climate favorable stock, she said. Potential partners are the insurance companies and financial investors. Her horizon includes Incentives for Green Investments, Efficiency, Environmental Stability – Sustainability. She talks of Green Funds and of having met recently at Davos with peers at the World Economic Forum to get low Carbon Funds on country level. The Bank initiated at Davos conversations with a number of governments.
The point person for the World Bank is: Mr. Patrick Verkooijen  pverkooijen at worldbank.org

Mr. Orr added here an additional announcement – this that in addition to the route to the September 23, 2014 meeting we heard up to now, that the UN Secretary-General has accepted the offer from the U.A.E. to have an Abu-Dhabi May 4-5, 2014 meeting as well – the ABU DHABI ASCENT – a high-level meeting to generate momentum for the 23 September Climate Summit being convened by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The two-day meeting will bring together ministers, as well as leaders from business, finance and civil society, to develop proposals for action and determine how their countries, businesses and organizations can increase their participation in initiatives that broaden and deepen partnerships, in order to deliver concrete action at the September Summit.  

We looked this up in “Green Prophet” and found – “Albeit one of the world’s largest oil producers, which also had the highest environmental footprint per capita for three years in a row, the Emirate continues to assert itself as a leading voice for dramatic environmental change.” – See more at: www.greenprophet.com/2014/02/oil-…

Yes, we know that the UN event is being planned with conventional energy industry at heart – but these added news, which we had in effect already February 5th, quite bother us. We know that without getting on board the oil producers there will be no UN agreement on substance – but placing the design of energy policy in the hands of oil producers doe not promise meaningful achievements on decarbonizing energy. So, let us make it clear – the September event is good public relations that will at best achieve a strengthening of the Natural gas market – in the sense that we will convince that it makes sense to oil producers to monetize their gas rather then flaring it or venting it to the atmosphere. We doubt that this will excite the environmentalists among us – who though glad with a reduction of the release of cH4, still want to see a decrease in CO2.

The UN has already witnessed the placement of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi and it held  this year  – the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, 19-22 January 2014,   and the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) hosted by MASDAR, that was described as the largest gathering on sustainability in the Middle East, and a significant platform for international dialogue and cooperation  – January 18-25, 2014 – but we never could warm up to these events as more then the study of potential investments for the oil money – we just cannot dance around this in a Halleluiah dance.

The policy reason for IRENA’s involvement is given in the provided material as: “RENEWABLE READINESS ASSESSMENT NETWORK: Assessment of country renewable energy potential and securing deployment.”
The point person for the UNSG effort at IRENA is Ms. Elisabeth Press   irena.org

 

1. A Commission on Economic Action;

2. The benefit of Climate Change Action on specific areas like health;
3. Science via the IPCCC new report to come out before the meeting in september;
4.Innovation announcements;
5. Sustainable Life Cycles and Livelihoods;
6. he invited the audience to come up with other subjects like devising Low Carbon Growth working with the Global Compact – that is the UN home for corporations large and small – he said.
HIS BOTTOM LINE FOR THE SEPTEMBER 23rd MEETING WAS: “We Can Offer the Platform But It Will Depend On Your Leaders To Provide The Substance.”

He Concluded with: THERE IS AMPLE TIME TO PREPARE and provided the site:

 

AFTER THE ORIGINAL PRESENTATIONS – THE REAL FUN STARTED AT THIS FEBRUARY 10 MEETING:

The first question came from Ambassador Peter Thompson of Fiji, former head of G77  and China, spokesman for the SIDS, Landlocked and Developing Countries with Lowest income, and for 2014 he was elected President of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Office of Project Services (UNOPS). He was the architect of the name-change effective 2011 of the UN’s Group of Asian States to the new name of the Asia-Pacific Group.

Ambassador Thompson remarked  skeptically about 193 Heads of Government and 3-7 minutes each – and the integration of the Oil & Gas Industry for a “Meaningful Commitment.” Then he said – This is a Meaningful Opportunity and we do not want to Second Guess.

He obviously targeted the Abu Dhabi Ascent and wanted to know how we lift the ambitions. Then he pointed out that the US President in the State of the Union said this January that “The Future of Our Grandchildren is at Stake!”

Others wanted to know how the private sector can be engaged in $the 100 Billion Fund that is suposed to kick in soon in order to help the Developing countries starting 2015.

Ambassador Patriota of Brazil continued pointing out the difference in responsibility between countries and issues of Transfer of Technology – the scope of economic drivers and the responsibility for pollution. In short – THERE ARE QUESTIONS OF DRIVERS, he said.

Further – we should avoid reopening issues that were already tackled in other places – like land use and deforestation questions – these will not let us move forward. He sees the basis in the list of the Annex 2 for the responsibility of nations as the starting point.

His conclusion was that the negotiated decisions should be rather under the UNFCCC and not a UNSG one day backed Summit.

The Ambassador from the Solomon Islands, Mr. Colin Beck, reminded us that the ocean acidification and the sea-level rise are here – it will be helpful if we talk on these issues. We would like to know these for Political involvement – he pointed out.

The answers started to point further that if the September event is intended just as a UN gloss-over it will fail.

Mr. Orr said that the Thematic areas are important not those few minute short statements by the Heads of State – everybody can speak but we hope there will be those that will present a “big program” he said and also used the word preference. He also said “we would like to have rather “group Statements.” He also remarked that “we would like Oil & Gas companies not just for political but FINANCIAL topics – we are engaged with them. {is this in the sense that he expects the oil money to finance the industry’s demise ior only the development of a new gas market}. T

The speaker for UNEP answered Brazil: WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY TO REDUCE AT LEAST CH4 emissions – so this is an area we can relly on the science and existing technology – especially in the Oil and Gas industry – it helps to improve their image as well. The CH4 and the black carbon from tail-pipes. If we do this we start withserious improvements.

Mr. Orr added to the answer to Brazil that “all we do here is no substitute to UNFCCC – it is for them to cash in what we do here and do the text,” he said.

Also, when we talk of finance – many actors will be here and not in Lima or Paris. {that is to those places he expects again just environment ministers while the Finance and Economy Ministers show up in New York.}

Further, We want to unlock the private funding – there is plenty around that does not go where it is needed.

The Secretary-General talks of the Green Finance Fund – if we get at the Summit a start on this – the Capitalization of The Green Fund –  we could get positive financing agreements in Lima and Paris, he said.
The Pointman for The Green Climate Fund Secretariat is – Mr. Marcelo Jordan   gcfund.org


On Innovation he said that there will be WIPO interest in green technologies and he does not think we should open this discussion again. This is a topic for the UNFCCC. and the creation of a marketplace to accelerate green technology innovation and transfer has a pointman for September – MrJoe Bradley   Joe.Bradley at WIPO.int

 

The second round of questions/comments started with the Ambassador from Kiribati –  Ms. Makurita Baaro. She addressed the issue of resilience and pointed out that we speak about everything except what really counts – the people. Only ISDR had something on this about cities. For us – the Canaries in the Mine? The Ambassador was told her comment was right.

On Adaptation and Resilience Mr. Orr said we must have a “balanced view” for September and the specific areas must be brought up, He said that Land Use and Forests are helpful to the program – I take that the extreme cases today – should get preference.

The UN Representative for the European Commission reminded the meeting that President Baroso  is expected by the time of the meeting of the European Council on March 21st to have the eU proposals that wil be used also for the run-up to September and for the platforms intended for Lima and Paris.

Further comments dealt with Mitigation, Adaptation and Reductions of Risk and Loss and Damage provisions to be advanced at the September Summit – but Palau warned that there should be no duplication of UNFCCC.

There is blooming an issue of Stranded Assets – Various investments will be worth less if we do not do something to reduce risk. These are areas that cause him to hope that this will be a topic at the Global Compact lunch that will be populated with lots of business people – so here we have it – business is expected to save the planet for its own interest and this is fine with us.
Surinam spoke his hope that there will be a shorter list of speakers and most willing to listen. Groups will be speaking with the Summit being just an extra – some countries saying – “we can do this without committing ourselves.

Addressing the Abu-Dhabi Ascent – Surinam, a country that has still 90% of its trees standing, can commit to let the trees standing and “We need Partners” to develop such programs. If we can go there and propose this – the Summit might help.

Mr. Orr got the point that this also means funding travel gave a general anwer that these proposals will have to be fleshed out and that the Ascent is part of a two stage strategy – y in the following negotiations. That is exactly where Climate Finance and Forest Finance come in. The need to achieve this so we like to see this happen. We felt that finally we were hearing serious thoughts and money where it is now – in the hands of the oil people – might help improve the image of the oil industry and be the real reason why they want to be part of these Olympics.

Climate Finance and Sustainable Development Finance overlap. How do you work now so that they reinforce?

Pension Funds that do not invest in our topics but should – and will. Ms. Jane Ebinger said that this is the way the Bank works with the Asian Development Bank and the OECD – and gets to see joint benefits with flows to Climate change and other issues.

So, there is a method here at play – not a blind-leads-blind anymore – but money being led so that it saves money and makes more money – strange enough – but that is how the real world works – the SIDS and others among the poor nations do not have much of a chance unless there are suitors ready to find an interesting angle in them helping in image making.

One last comment – this one just from me. The highly touted UN SE4All (thin the e Sustainable Energy for All UN office headquartered at the UN in Vienna) was mentioned only in the two-sheet handout – but not mentioned once in the 3 hour long meeting. Seemingly business has not yet discovered how to make directly money out of them.

The Papers give for SE4All as challenge – Country Energy Action and Implementation  and as pointman we have Minoru Takada   un.org

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another UN reference for the 2014 Climate Summit:

About | Summits on Climate Change

United Nations website on climate change summits. UN icon in English by the Climate Change Support Team (CCST) working closely with the UN System.

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