Outlook for the Paris Agreement

As Founder of the Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah International Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development, it is an honor for me and a thing of great joy to see the creation and inauguration of the Al-Attiyah Elders Forum by the Foundation. It is very befitting to the caliber and achievements of the members of the Elders Forum, to mark the inauguration with this

special publication on “Energy Outlook 2020”. This allows some words of wisdom, vision and insights from these eminent personalities with many years of experience and service in the energy sector, to be captured for posterity.

We do not need to look too far into the future, to realize that responding to climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the global energy industry. Hence, I have chosen, as a lead article for this special publication, to share some insights on the Paris Agreement. When 196 countries that are Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention

Agreement in December 2015, it represented a major breakthrough. After more than 20 years of

negotiations, the world agreed on a blueprint on how to keep global climate change well below 2 degrees Celsius. The agreement is seen by many as the last hope for humanity to preserve the foundations for a healthy planet. Now that the focus is shifting from negotiating an agreement to implementing action on the ground, it is important to reflect how the energy industry can contribute to the global effort to combat climate change. Under the Paris Agreement, each country has to set forth a climate action plan (a Nationally Determined Contribution – NDC), which describes the targets of the country, and the means for reaching the target. These NDCs have become front and center of attention for companies and organizations who want to understand what role they can play, and how they will be impacted by the new climate policies. In short article, I will use what I refer to as the four “Ps” to briefly describe the scenario that creates an opportunity for the energy sector to contribute to a bullish outlook for the Paris Agreement.

The Process

Paris was the most successful climate change conference ever, but it was a culmination of a very long evolutionary process of painstaking bilateral and multilateral diplomacy and negotiations at national, regional and international levels.

The painstaking journey from Durban to Paris passed through Doha at COP18, which I was privileged to serve as the President. The process allowed for the involvement of all governments

and all sectors of the economy and civil society. It enabled the concerns and interests of all countries to be adequately considered.

The Purpose

The Paris Agreement succinctly captures the ultimate objective of the Convention by emphasizing the need to address the urgent threat of climate change through commitment to aggregate emission pathways that are consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

There is recognition that the required response needs to be effective, progressive and based on the best available scientific knowledge. The purpose is underpinned by a recognition in the Paris Agreement that climate change actions, responses and impacts have an intrinsic relationship with equitable access to sustainable development and eradication of poverty.

The Principle

The interpretation of the UNFCCC core principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances’ has always been a heavily contested issue between developed and developing countries, throughout the many years of climate change negotiations. The breakthrough reached in Durban on this core principle, allowed countries to focus more on inclusivity, collaboration and cooperation, during the critical stages of the Paris process. This ensured a consensus on the five foundational contours of the Paris Agreement – national climate actions, a comprehensive framework, long-term goals, periodic stock takes, and financial resources.

The Participation

The Paris Agreement recognizes the need for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and participation of all sectors of society, including the different tiers of government. The Agreement is indeed a game changing outcome, as it represents a paradigm shift from the Kyoto Protocol era, where big industry – particularly energy – was largely seen as the culprit, to a new era where the sector could now become part of the solution.

The Paris Agreement signals that real transformation of the energy sector is the will and undertaking of all world governments. In a recent report produced for the German government as President of the G20, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) indicates that investment in renewable power and energy efficiency could add about 0.8% to global GDP by 2050, boosting the world economy by $19 trillion. Nobody understands what it would take to transform the energy sector more than the players within it. The prognosis of the Paris Agreement becoming an effective global tool for addressing the climate challenge is very high and I am delighted that the energy industry is stepping up to be counted among the leading actors. The Al-Attiyah International Foundation is ready to be a committed partner on this important mission.

By H.E. Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Chairman, Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah International Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development

Source: The Gulf Intelligence 

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