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Remarks by Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director at Opening of the 2nd Africa Carbon Forum

Nairobi, 3 March 2010—His Excellency Hon Mwai Kibaki, President of the Republic of Kenya

Hon. J. K. Kiptanui, Assistant Minister for environment, Kenya.

John Kilani, Director Sustainable Development Mechanisms programme, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Distinguished guests, delegates, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to the UN Office at Nairobi—the headquarters of UNEP and UN-Habitat.

Welcome to the place where the Nairobi Framework was forged in 2006.

Where a few years earlier Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General received the ratification papers of the Russian Federation.

These brought the Kyoto Protocol and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) into legal life.

We meet just over two months since the UN climate convention meeting in Copenhagen.

Some may have imagined that Copenhagen and its outcomes might have put a temporary brake on the urgency to combat climate change and accelerate a transition to a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy.

Certainly the ambition shown in December has so far failed to match the challenge and many remain concerned that the signals to the markets not least on a long term perspective for the price of carbon, remain too weak.

But the 1,000 or so delegates here for the 2nd Africa Carbon Forum underline that many are determined to forge forward.

Africa sees all too clearly the challenge of unchecked climate change.

But it is resolved too to maximize the opportunities, not least through the CDM and the catalyzing of clean and renewable energies alongside forestry projects.

Africa is not alone in this.

Last week in Bali, at UNEP's Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, the ministers responsible for the environment signalled their determination to make the UN climate convention meeting in Mexico later in the year a success.

UNEP in partnership with others is also gearing up and sharpening its activities in support of an accelerated and comprehensive response to climate change including the via the carbon markets.

In Copenhagen, we launched three flagships and advisory services.

  • Ecosystem Based Adaptation—this will offer member states services on how best to incorporate ecosystem adaptation into national climate, development and sectoral strategies.

  • REDD+- this will offer member states services on how to incorporate reduced emissions from deforestation and carbon capture and storage from other terrestrial ecosystems in national climate, development and sectoral strategies.

  • Clean Tech Readiness—building on an extensive body work on smart market mechanisms and other hurdles to barriers, UNEP will offer member states services on how best to incorporate renewable energies and energy efficient technologies in national climate, development and sectoral strategies.

This work dovetails with new initiatives being carried out in partnership with others including the UN Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO); UNDP and the World Bank.

  • Technology Needs Assessment—Over 30 countries to be supported in determining their specific low greenhouse gas technology needs: 15 countries are in the first phase, with others coming on board through 2010.

  • Green Economy Advisory Services—Over two dozen countries or relevant national institutions have requested or have signalled they would like assistance on how to tailor a low carbon, resource efficient Green Economy approach to national development strategies.

There will be a strong focus here in Africa—a Continent with an abundant and inordinate potential for clean energy and carbon markets.

A potential that is in many ways only just being realized for a variety of reasons not least because of the need for capacity building of relevant institutions including financial ones.

Not least because Africa, alongside other developing economy regions, has some special hurdles to leap from questions of the convertibility of currencies to the size and thus the attractiveness of projects available.

This reality is mirrored in an assessment, literally compiled in the last 24 hours, by UNEP's Risoe Centre on the number of CDM projects approved or in the pipeline.

  • These show that of the nearly 4,890 CDM projects registered or in the pipeline world-wide, only 122 are in Africa

  • However, the statistics also reveal that this is up from just 42 Africa-wide in 2007; 75 in 2008 and 116 in 2009.

The statistics also show a great deal of unevenness which in part reflects the size of some economies versus others but also underline special challenges and a great need to step up support in some nations.

  • South Africa for example has 32 CDM projects in various phases of submission and approval; followed by Kenya with 15; Egypt with 13 and Uganda with 12.

  • After that numbers tail off quite quickly to Morocco with nine; Nigeria with 8; the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania with five each and many other countries with just one or two.

  • Equatorial Guinea is among several countries that has zero CDM projects.

Financing through the CDM is part—perhaps 10 per cent or more- of the financial attractiveness of an investment.

But the regional development banks and private banks have a role not least in assessing and managing the risk and raising the funds needed to light a clean energy path on this Continent.

Thus I am delighted with the announcement yesterday by UNEP and its Risoe Centre, Standard Bank and the German Government on the establishment of the Africa Carbon Asset Development Facility to do just this.

National policies can also be a key driver.

Kenya's total shows a leap to 14 in 2009 from five the year before.

Could the establishment of a feed-in tariff have played a key role in the attractiveness of CDM projects including the 300 MW wind farm in Turkana region?

Your Excellency, distinguished guests,

other opportunities are emerging including the funding of forest conservation programmes funded under the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation initiative—a bright point in Copehagen.

But it does not end here.

UNEP, with funding from the Global Environment Facility, are working with farmers and landowners in China, Kenya, Nigeria and Niger on assessing carbon sequestration in vegetation and soils under various management regimes.

It may lead to carbon payments for those involved in sustainable agriculture.

At what of oceans?: UNEP's Blue Carbon report launched last year, estimated that over half the world's transport emissions may be being removed and buried by salt marshes; sea grasses and mangrove forests.

Last week in Bali, the Government of Indonesia and UNEP in collaboration FAO, UNESCO's International Oceanographic Commission and research centres launched a new science initiative to understand how these natural carbon capture and storage systems work.

Eventually the carbon markets may be rewarding countries with coasts and coastal communities for improved management of their seas and oceans.

The reality of Copenhagen was that the world could not in the end find its way to a legally binding new climate agreement.

And although numbers from both developed and developing countries have now been put on the table, the current pledges on emissions reductions fall short of the science.

The reality of this meeting here in Nairobi is not that this does not matter—but that we can get on with bringing clean and renewable energy to those without access while also combating poverty; pollution and climate change anyway.

That the absence of a legally binding new agreement is not an alibi for inaction, but that accelerating investment in low carbon energy sources makes sense on a multiple suite of fronts including in terms of overcoming poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

And given the right market incentives and creative market mechanisms we can, in partnership, make it happen—indeed it already is.

The question here is how to build upon what is already in place and how to ensure that the gains of the past six or so years are not only fostered but fast forwarded to not just a few but to all countries and communities on the Continent.

Thank you




Further Resources

Carbon Markets in Africa Moving Forward


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