Twenty-five climate actions


M Ziauddin

Pakistan is perhaps, one of world’s most threatened countries by the climate change phenomenon because of being a severe victim of unabated global warming. Indeed, the world is warming more quickly than anyone expected. Many scientists project the planet will be at least 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer by around 2050, or even earlier, relative to pre-industrial levels. Such a prospect is not tenable for our well-being or our prosperity. Nor is it inevitable. We know what is causing climate change and we have the tools we need to make deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. We can and must act now. Nearly three quarters of CO2 emissions are said to come from human activities and have recently begun rising again. Other greenhouse gases, like methane and nitrous oxide, are also on the rise. Human activity, the main cause of climate change is also the source of the solution.
According to OECD, climate will improve our well-being in many other ways too, from cleaner air and healthier diets to less time spent in traffic jams. Clean transport and green spaces will free up our congested cities, teleworking will make commuting a choice rather than a chore, and new opportunities, jobs and businesses will be created. “The climate change threat poses a challenge for us all, which makes international co-operation so essential. Governments, businesses and citizens can work together to cut greenhouse gas emissions at the source, while enabling everyone, including the poorest and most vulnerable among us, to benefit at the same time.  “We know that agriculture, buildings, electricity, industry, and transport are the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions.   
“By focusing our efforts on these 5 sectors, we can address emissions at the source, disentangle our world from fossil fuels, and make the transition to clean energy as affordable, fair and smooth as possible. “The world continues to rely heavily on fossil fuels for 80% of their energy needs. This needs to change. “To be consistent with the Paris Agreement, we have estimated that global investments in clean energy infrastructure need to reach some USD 6.9 trillion annually. That is only 10% more than in a business-as-usual case dominated by carbon-intensive fuels such as coal and oil. Moreover, this increase would likely be offset by fuel savings, which would amount to USD 1.7 trillion by 2030. 
“It is therefore feasible for every country to invest less in fossil fuels and more in clean energy alternatives. “Moreover, public and private investments must be channelled to favour low-emissions production, climate-resilient technologies and sustainable infrastructure. “We have the knowledge and the tools to make it happen. “We already have many of the solutions we need to start decarbonising our economies today. “These range from regulation, energy-related taxes, carbon pricing and government incentives for green technology, to public and private investment in low-carbon resilient infrastructure, corporate responsibility and individual lifestyle choices.”
According to OECD’s Whatisnew Newsletter dated December 13, 2019 (Better policies for better lives—25 actions to deliver on climate commitments) by focusing on 5 sectors, we can tackle up to 90% of emissions
“By addressing the 5 key emitting sectors using 5 concrete policy levers, we list 25 policy actions that can spur strong climate action coherently and fairly, and get us all on track by 2025. “We can act on some challenges today, for example, by ending inefficient fossil fuel subsidies and putting a price on carbon, including for international flights and shipping. Others require innovation in technology, to better manage overall energy systems, for instance. Many will contain trade-offs for policymakers to consider, but all have solutions.” The OECD has compiled the following 25 climate actions that can get the world on track for 2025. These actions focus on the 5 highest-emitting economic sectors and are organised according to 5 policy levers: invest, regulate, tax and subsidise, lead by example, and inform and educate.
“They are a starting point. Together, we need to transform our economies at an unprecedented scale. We have the knowledge and the tools to make it happen. We have the financial resources. It’s time to deliver on climate commitments. “Improving productivity can help reduce emissions by allowing agriculture to produce similar or higher amounts of food with fewer inputs. These productivity improvements will be sustainable if they are backed by regulations and efforts to prevent forest clearing. Boosting productivity requires both adopting existing technologies and techniques more widely, and encouraging innovation. “One example is precision agriculture, where digital technologies such as global positioning systems and sensors are helping lower the amount of fertilisers contributing to emissions. For cattle, a leading source of agricultural emissions, improving feed quality and better matching it to the nutritional needs of cattle can help reduce emissions related to milk and meat production. Other innovations in breeding and animal health can also help cut emissions from cattle, while no-till farming can help reduce emissions from crop production.
“More government effort is needed to improve agricultural innovation, both nationally and internationally, and to invest in research and development (R&D). Governments should improve public agricultural R&D funding, create the conditions to attract private investment and facilitate public-private partnerships, with the involvement of farmers and other stakeholders. They should also foster international R&D co-operation.”
1. Improve productivity sustainably through innovation, to lower emissions and feed a growing population
2. Reform price-distorting regulations that increase agricultural emissions
3. Use taxes and support payments to reduce emissions and manage impacts on farmers and consumers
4. Include agriculture in national climate mitigation strategies
5. Inform consumers and producers about food choices and how to reduce food waste
6. Ensure public procurement is climate-friendly and invest in sustainable buildings
7. Put in place stringent climate-friendly building codes and standards
8. Use tax and financial incentives to renovate existing buildings
9. Mainstream sustainable building within urban and rural planning
10. Educate planners and contractors on how to construct and maintain green buildings
11. Drive investments in green energy development, deployment and infrastructure
12. Phase out coal and tap the potential of new sources of energy generation
13. Price carbon and address barriers holding up the transition to sustainable energy
14. Channel public money into green electricity, leveraging the weight of sub-national governments
15. Empower investors and consumers with information on sustainable electricity
16. Scale up research and development to create new low-carbon industrial processes
17. Regulate energy efficiency in plants to lower emissions
18. Price carbon while maintaining competitiveness to lower emissions and spur innovation
19. Lead the way for other economic sectors in shifting from linear to circular resource efficiency
20. Educate for energy and resource efficient sustainable industrial practices
21. Scale up research, production and use of zero-emission fuels
22. Create conditions that increase accessibility and maximise use of transport capacity
23. Set prices to encourage sustainable passenger mobility and freight transport
24. Make low-carbon transport the default for public sector decision making. 25. Share knowledge about tested measures that reduce transport emissions.
— The writer is veteran journalist and a former editor based in Islamabad.