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The 2015 CLIMATE CHALLENGE Orlando Mercado PhD


The 2015 Climate Challenge Orlando Mercado PhD

Currently Secretary General, Eastern Regional Organisation for Public Administration (EROPA) First Permanent Representative of the Philippines to ASEAN (2009-2010) By 2015, two goals are set to be achieved by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). One is the creation of a fully integrated regional common market. The other is for it and all parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to clinch a new climate deal. Although these tasks seem to be unrelated, they are inextricably linked. On one hand, the outcome of the UNFCCC negotiations will chart the destiny not only of Southeast Asia but also of the entire planet in this era of indubitable climate change. On the other hand, how ASEAN countries extract, utilise and trade their natural resources and power their industries for economic development will bear upon any UNFCCC effort to mitigate and cope with the impact of climate change. For example, the expected expansion of energy supply infrastructure in the context of economic integration would increase ASEAN’s share of global energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions. The latter is forecast to increase by 5% by 2030 up from 3.5% today. In terms of energy use, ASEAN’s final energy consumption will grow at an annual average rate of 4.4%, from 375 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) to 1,018 MTOE. (Institute of Energy Economics Japan)

Some climate finance was put on the table by a few European countries but no agreement to scale up or add new funding for vulnerable countries towards the previously agreed target of $100 billion

In Copenhagen, developed countries committed to mobilize USD 100 billion per year by 2020 to support climate action in developing countries. However, various estimates place the incremental financing needs for climate mitigation and action in developing countries at more than USD 100 from public finance alone.

Oxfam estimates that at least USD 150 billion per year is needed in public finance alone from 2013, rising to at least USD 200 billion per year by 2020. Of this amount, USD 100 should be allocated for adaptation and USD 100 for mitigation.

A new mechanism was created to compensate countries worst hit by climate change for loss and damage

In Qatar, countries agreed to implement a workprogram on loss and damage the opens the possibility of an international mechanism on the same.

Developing countries are calling for the creation of an international mechanism on loss and damage that will address issues and concerns such as reconstruction, rehabilitation and compensation for lossess and damages resulting from extreme and slow on set weather events.

Fig. 1

In the field of forestry, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reports a total of 43.6 million hectares deforested in the main forest countries of the region between 1995 and 2005, corresponding to a release of about 3.45 million tonnes of carbon.

It is imperative for Southeast Asian governments to increase their cooperation in the post-Doha climate negotiations leading to 2015. ASEAN must move towards helping its Members follow a low carbon development path while building a climate resilient regional community – commitments that they voluntarily assumed in the Bali Concorde of 2011.

Globally, without drastic reductions in CO2 emissions, the earth’s temperature could rise by as much as six degrees Celsius by the end of the century [UN IPCC] that could lead to a potentially irreversible catastrophic scenario.

Southeast Asia is already suffering from extreme weather events and other impacts of the climate crisis.

Despite this alarming future, the international climate change meeting last December, 2012, in Doha, Qatar, brought no new agreement to limit greenhouse gases; and no new funds to help poor countries adapt. However, there had been discussions on a number of issues that could matter to the 2015 deadline for a new climate deal. The key outcomes of the Doha climate change conference are discussed in table 1.

The Philippines, the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam and almost all regions of Cambodia, north and east Lao PDR, the metropolitan area of Bangkok, South and West Sumatra, West and East Java of Indonesia are considered hot spots to climate change impacts. Most endangered is Jakarta as this densely populated city lies at the intersection of all but one of five climate-related hazards—droughts, floods, landslides and sea level rise. [International Development Research Centre’s Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia]

Looking back, the annual negotiations by the parties to the UNFCCC have run on two tracks since 2007. One has been devoted for the Kyoto Protocol, which limits the emissions of the rich countries that have ratified it. The other deals with long-term mechanisms to combat climate change. The Durban platform has become the third track and after Doha, the forum to craft and deliver a new climate agreement covering all Parties of the UNFCCC by 2015.

Source: IDRC

Table 1 Key outcomes of the Doha climate change negotiations

DOHA Outcome

Kyoto Protocol extended to 8 years with emissions cut commitments of developed countries under KP aggregating to 18% below 1990 levels

Recommended by science, technical subsidiary body or previous COP decision Collective emissions cut by developed countries that range 25-40%

Fig. 2


Short even of the bottom of the range recommended by science.

In the last couple of decades, Southeast Asia has experienced delays in rainy season in some parts, and extended monsoon in others that disrupted the planting season and production in a region largely dependent on agriculture [documented observations by Dr. Tun Lwin, climate expert from Myanmar]. Such climate change impacts have proven severely threatening for the life and livelihood of most Southeast Asians who are considered poor and have very limited adaptive capacity. The region, however, has the potential to address these climate-related challenges.

It is endowed with vast carbon storing natural forests; abundant sources of renewable and low-carbon energy such as the wind, solar, tidal and hydro; and about 600 million people with different expressions of indigenous creativity and adaptive skills and wisdom. These vast natural and human resources must be sustainably and promptly tapped to save the climate.

Graph 2. Renewable energy potential in SEA1 TWh 450 Wind offshore


Wind onshore


Tidal & wave energy


Solar thermal electricity






Geothermal electricity


Renewable Municipal Waste


Solid Biomass


Biogas Philippines

Indonesia Malaysia

Thailand Singapore

The international climate change negotiations in the UNFCCC and the ASEAN economic community building are timely platforms and relevant avenues where ASEAN can translate its pronouncement on climate change into real, concrete commitments and action that have the power to impact positively on peoples and communities in the region.

Source: International Energy Agency (2010)


Recommendations • ASEAN leaders must ensure that its economic community building is low carbon and sustainable by considering on one hand policy support for renewable energy and on the other hand policy reform to desubsidize coal and oil. • ASEAN leaders must fast track initiatives to build climate resilience among Member States by encouraging its members to allocate sufficient budgetary resources to support appropriate and community driven climate adaptation initiatives. ASEAN must also work with community groups and civil society organizations in building and sharing knowledge and learning on best climate adaptation practices. • ASEAN leaders must undertake initiatives to adopt trans-boundary initiative aimed at addressing crossborder climate change issues. One of these could be the development of a tool for a trans-boundary environmental impact assessment system in the region. • In the UNFCCC, ASEAN countries must contribute their collective voice in pushing for a fair, ambitious, and legally binding global climate deal---and nothing less than this. In conclusion, in overcoming the 2015 climate challenge, we can find inspiration in the following words of international human rights icon and fellow Southeast Asian, Lady Aung San Suu Kyi. In calling for the appropriate energy policy for her country, she said: “We wish to create a political, social and economic environment that will bring ethical, new and innovative investments to our country. We would like to draw up our blue print for a new model of sustainable economy with a view to the future needs of our globe, social and environmental concerns, woven into food, water and energy needs. “[World Economic Forum, 2012] I wish for the same. The new model of sustainable economy under the regime of climate change must be lowcarbon and resilient. With the above recommendations, it can become a reality.

1 The total potential for renewable electricity in 2030 is about 1.8 times the total 2007 electricity consumption in the region. The additional realizable potential in the 6 countries mentioned could be as much as 12 times the current deployment of renewable electricity, especially for non-hydro power sources. Significant contributors would be solar PV, wind, geothermal and biomass. The realizable potential for renewables is also significantly larger than the penetration projected in the 450 scenario in the World Energy Outlook in 2009. This demonstrates that the main factor hindering the growth of renewables in the region is not resource availability but rather the competition from “less costly” technology options, the prices of which do not adequately account for the external costs of fossil fuels nor fully consider the inherent benefits of renewables. Another key point here is that the renewable energy technologies for electricity with the potential to make major contributions in the medium term up to 2030 are primarily those which have already reached, or are close to market competitiveness. Important socio-economic benefits of large-scale penetration of renewables include improvements in energy security and noteworthy reductions of air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions which would contribute to climate change mitigation.

Published by the ASEAN for a Fair, Ambitious and Binding global climate deal (AFAB) Partnership of Oxfam, Greenpeace & EROPA in Southeast Asia


AFAB 2015 Climate Challenge