With the COP24 kicking off in Katowice, Poland in a few days, we sat down with Armen Grigoryan, UNDP’s lead on climate, resilience and energy work in Eurasia to hear about the region’s progress in addressing climate change.
What is the current situation on climate change in the Eurasia region?
The latest IPCC report indicates that if we don’t take unprecedented climate action within next few years, the consequences of climate change for the entire world will be catastrophic. In our region the impact of climate change is evident. Over seven million people are directly impacted by change in climate. In the Western Balkans and South Caucasus, we have more floods and more droughts. The sea level rise of the Black Sea is obvious. Water is becoming scarcer in Central Asia, and we except to see an estimated 7% reduction in yield of major crops in the region by 2050. The cost of doing nothing is astronomical. Alone in our region the economic cost of changing climate is around 40 billion US dollars every year.
This year’s climate summit (COP24) is taking place in your region. What progress do you see in terms of turning the climate committments into concrete action?
Energy is considered one of the most important sectors and at the same time a development challenge in the region. The region’s high carbon footprint is due to the fact that some of the economies are coal-based, with strong fossil fuel subsidies and aging infrastructure. Other countries, such as Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, on the other hand, face difficulties in terms of access to energy and the need for sustainable heating, which is particularly a challenge because of low winter temperatures and electricity shortages.
But there is a huge opportunity in the region, as well. We see blended financing as a good way to incentivize investment in energy efficiency in the region. This is why we have been supporting countries with various de-risking approaches for public and private financing. The overall objective here is to improve the investment climate and attract financing for clean energy. In Armenia, for example, we partner with the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) on improving energy efficiency in residential buildings. In Moldova, we are creating a market for electric cars with the Global Environment Facility (GEF). And in Central Asia, farmers in rural communities are becoming more resilient with new irrigation and planting techniques while also learning to apply various insurance models. More and more countries in the region recognize the future of clean energy and have begun to work towards less fossil fuel dependent energy.
What opportunities are there for countries to link their climate actions to development objectives?
As you can see from the examples, climate actions can play a critical role in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) in the region. At UNDP, we work with countries on the development and implementation of their climate targets, as outlined in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and will soon significantly expand its support. We thereby help countries apply an integrated development approach by bringing together actions on the global frameworks of disaster risk reduction, climate change and the sustainable development goals. Countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia, for example, have already linked their NDCs to national disaster risk reduction (DRR) or resilience strategies. UNDP has a strong adaptation portfolio, from which we can draw on a wealth of high-quality technical solutions and expertise.
What are some of the next steps?
More integrated approaches in addressing climate change by bringing together the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. Disaster risk reduction and climate change contribute to the achievement of all SDGs, therefore NDCs need to be more integrated in national development planning. NDC cannot be an isolated part of work. It is development.
Scaling up private sector partnership and involvement of private sector and climate action is critical. At COP24 that is happening in our region, UNDP will partner with various organizations to present its best practices and advocate for climate resistant, risk-informed, sustainable development.