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Briefing explores climate, trade and the SDGs

Proposed national actions to reduce carbon emissions would have come at lower cost if they had been undertaken earlier, participants have heard at a briefing held in Geneva.


The latest pledges to reduce emissions also do not put us on track to limit the global rise in temperature to two degrees compared to pre-industrial times, noted the Head of the UNEP DTU Centre John Christensen on 5 October.


The briefing was organised by the Geneva Environment Network Secretariat together with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the International Trade Centre.


The first session of the briefing covered the outcomes of the SDGs summit and their relevance to COP 21, preparations for the Paris meeting, as well as a tour de table on how the international trade community can support the climate negotiations.


Pillippe Ramet, representing this year’s COP host country France, gave opening remarks. Panellists at the morning session included Aik Hoe Lin, Director of WTO’s Division on Trade and Environment; Guillermo Valles, Director of UNCTAD’s Division on International Trade in Goods and Services and Commodities; Anders Aerore, Director of the ITC’s Market Development Division; Katia Simeonova of UNFCCC; and Andrew Martin, chair of the Environmental Goods Agreement negotiations at the WTO.


The afternoon session focusing on national pledges, or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, was moderated by the Director of UNEP’s Regional Office for Europe Jan Dusik.


Were actions to save emissions have been taken as recently as in 2010, they would have come at lower cost, said Mr Christensen – one of the authors of UNEP’s ‘Emissions Gap’ report - during the session. Given their size, fossil fuel subsidies could help achieve the SDGs were they to be used for this instead, added Ms Merrill, whose organisation produced a report on the subject. The subsidies could be taxed at national or even international level, the report suggests.


In any case, achieving the national pledges made ahead of December’s climate talks will require a massive change in effort and shift in investment, innovation in financial services, said Johnathan Grant from Price Waterhouse Coopers. For business, this will mean a move away from coal, development of low carbon infrastructure and a shift of capital there from high carbon infrastructure, he underlined.


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