Conference of Parties (COP21)-United Nations,Mongolia : Press Conference Statement by Ms. Beate Trankmann, UN Resident Coordinator

Dec 14, 2015

Photo: gogo.mn

Dear Guests and Friends from Media. Welcome to the UN House!

Today is an important day. Over the weekend, 195 nations reached a historic agreement in Paris to combat climate change and take action towards the sustainable future for our planet.

For the first time, all nations have pledged to curb emissions and take common climate action based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.

This agreement is also important as it follows on the heels of the approval of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by world leaders in New York in September to end poverty and protect the planet. The Accord reached in Paris is a recognition that Sustainable Development cannot be achieved without decisive action to adapt to and mitigate climate change. It directly supports Goal 13 of the SDGs on combating climate change and its impacts.

The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep global temperature rise during the 21st century at well below 2 °C and drive efforts to limit temperature increases even further to 1.5 °C. The agreement also aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.

The 5 key points in the agreement are:

1.     A transparent system that takes stock regularly at global and country level accounting for climate action. At the center of this system is the commitment of countries to submit their updated climate plans (INDCs) every five years – thereby steadily increasing the ambition in the long-term. The agreement also includes a compliance mechanism, overseen by a committee of experts that operates in a non-punitive way.

2.     Mitigation in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal. Countries will peak their emissions as soon as possible and reduce from thereon onwards.

3.     Adaptation to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change. The agreement underwrites adequate support to developing nations to do this through international cooperation.

4.     A mechanism to support countries recover from losses and damages of climate change and build resilience. The mechanism applies to both sudden onset disasters such as cyclones and slow onset processes such as steadily rising sea levels.

5.     Overall support to developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island states with finance and technology, for clean, low carbon development. This includes a roadmap on stepping up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020.

The agreement will be opened for one year for signature by state parties starting 22 April 2016 (on Mother Earth Day). It will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions have ratified it. It will replace the Kyoto Protocol in 2020.

Why was this agreement so important?

Climate change threatens to further increase the frequency and severity of natural disasters – which have cost the global economy $2 trillion over the last twenty years as well as thousands of lives in addition to forcing many people to migrate. A disproportionate burden is being carried by the poorest people, and by vulnerable countries which lack the means to adapt to what is happening. In Mongolia, the impacts are desertification, lower forest cover, higher likelihood of dzuds, fires, and floods as well as increased migration to Ulaanbaatar.

The planet has warmed by 0.8°C since industrialisation and 2015 is the hottest year on record. In the past 70 years, the mean temperature in Mongolia increased by 2.07°C. This is faster than global average and is already above the 2°C threshold. Mongolia is ranked 8th among over 100 countries in the Global Climate Risk Index of 2014. Due to their dependency on natural resources, the most vulnerable groups to climate change in Mongolia are nomadic herders and farmers.

So, what has to be done in Mongolia and in other countries?

Global warming and climate change are caused by human activity that releases high emissions of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere mainly through the use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) to meet energy needs. The continued destruction of our forests, steppes and natural environment further exacerbates the situation as it takes away natural sinks that can absorb the carbon and releases further CO2.

Therefore, simply put, to combat climate change we have to use less coal, oil and gas and stop destroying nature. How? By following development strategies that combine clean energy and lower energy consumption with forest and nature conservation. The choice is not between Green or Growth; we have to make growth environmentally and climate friendly. This also makes business sense as the costs of climate change damage in the long run are expected to exceed the investments needed into greener and cleaner forms of development.

The world has the technology, knowledge and innovation and even the capital to make this transformation. Green economy simulation models show higher long term economic growth prospects. Green sectors moreover present opportunities for job creation and new sources of trade and exports.

To make this shift, climate change needs to be integrated into national and local development plans and sector strategies. The integration of the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change targets into Mongolia’s new 2030 Long Term Sustainable Development Vision is an important step in this direction. Translating these goals into annual government plans and importantly budgets and resource allocations will be vital.  Growth strategies especially in the mining, energy and agricultural sectors will have to be calibrated in a way as to ensure that environmental and climate change objectives can be met.

The Paris agreement aims to reduce carbon emissions and this can only be achieved by reducing fossil fuel consumption. For Mongolia, with its coal dependency, this will require higher energy efficiency and moving away from coal to increase the share of renewable energies in the energy mix. The role of the private sector will be crucial and Mongolia will need to find ways of incentivizing investment into renewable energy sectors and clean production. How business does business will be critical in determining whether countries climate action plans succeed.

What is the role of the UN here in Mongolia?

With global experience of climate change work in more than 140 countries, the UN stands ready to work with Mongolia to advance development and climate objectives simultaneously. Protecting Mongolia’s poor and eradicating poverty will not be possible without addressing climate change. We are well placed to implement national climate action plans submitted by Mongolia and all other countries in Paris as part of the drive to achieve the SDGs. We look forward to working with all stakeholders incl. government, private sector, development partners, NGOs, and civil society to make this a reality. 

It is often said that we are the first generation that can eradicate poverty – we are also likely the last generation that can save the planet.

The agreement reached in Paris is the strongest expression of a common international resolve yet to keep the planet safe advance human development and build a more equitable and resilient world for all. So let’s get to work to implement this important agreement

Thank You! 

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