Event Recap: ‘What It Will Take to Deliver on the Paris Climate Accord’

Event Recap: ‘What It Will Take to Deliver on the Paris Climate Accord’

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On June 7th, The Brookings Institution held an event titled, ‘What It Will Take to Deliver on the Paris Climate Accord’. It was moderated by Amar Bhattacharya, senior fellow at the Global Economy and Development Program, and paneled by Lord Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute and Dean of the India Observatory at the London School of Economics; Sri Mulyani Indrawati, managing director and chief operating officer of the World Bank; and Robert Orr, Dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy, and special advisor to the U.N. secretary-general on climate change.

In his introduction, Vice President and Director of Brooking’s Global Economy and Development Program, Kemal Derviş, focused on the difficulties of financing the changes needed to fulfill the Accord, stating ‘those who need it most don’t have it’. He spoke about how on a global level there is not enough long-term investment in climate change-resilient infrastructure and expressed the need to address carbon pricing, sentiments that were echoed by all of the panelists.

Moderator Bhattacharya focused on how the Accord was a breakthrough because it changed the dialogue from an ‘us and them’ conversation to a ‘we’ conversation. According to Bhattacharya, this is a positive sign of a more inclusive decision-making process. He said that Accord signers’ commitments to climate extended further than before, but stressed the need to take action on forestry and adaptation strategies.

Lord Stern opened by stating that the Accord and sustainable development goals (SDGs) have set a new global agenda for addressing climate change, and demonstrated two important developments. First, the international community has begun to understand the true scope of the risks that climate change poses. Second, the international community sees what it can achieve and that it can build understanding for governance. Stern concentrated on how growing urbanization necessitates a sense of urgency in innovating sustainable infrastructure and ‘rekindling growth’ in finance. He stressed that multi-lateral development banks must play a greater role in supporting developing countries to implement sustainable infrastructure, and that the cost of capital must be lowered to make it feasible.

Stern noted that implementation and governance analysis is most effective at the city level because it allows similar cities to learn from one another to implement the most effective Accord-fulfilling strategies. Lastly, he emphasized the need to include finance ministers in the decision-making process to convince them that there are beneficial short and long-term solutions to climate change.

Robert Orr began by reaffirming Stern’s opinion that the Accord indicates recognition of risks and increasing impacts, and that the agreement affords the opportunity to create a multi-stakeholder model of global public goods. He then focused on what he viewed as the three elements necessary to achieve the goals outlined by the Accord: First, speed and the urgent need for implementation. Second, scale as a means of bringing more solutions to more people and third, strategic coherence across sectors.

Orr highlighted the influence of NGOs and academics had on the Accord, and described the ability of different constituencies to work together as ‘powerful but fragile.’ He also emphasized the importance of representation of the Global South in all levels of governance, and concluded by stating the need to transition to new economy requirements, consider carbon-pricing, decrease subsidies, and re-allocate the funds to put towards more sustainable use.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati opened by speaking about the role of the World Bank Climate Change Action Plan (WBCCAP) in ensuring Accord implementation and explained that the WBCCAP aims to advise developing countries on institutional financial policies and financing possibilities to comply with the Accord. In order to implement these policies, countries need to develop strategies to design cities, ensure food security, use land and water sustainably and create and deliver renewable energy. To tailor implementation strategies and create the most sustainable programs possible, the World Bank identifies emissions to determine what is affecting the country now and what will affect the country in the future. Indrawati noted that issues with domestic institutions, political economy, governance and law enforcement could inhibit proper implementation, and stated that a ‘safety net’ should be established to ensure that governments do not fall back on their old methods. Like Orr, Indrawati emphasized the need to focus on and include the Global South in developing viable action plans.