November 20-21, 24 Hours of Reality: Truth in Action, a day that mobilized a worldwide conversation about the climate crisis and celebrated the grassroots activists leading today’s climate movement, took place around the world. Thousands of presentations on climate change were simultaneously taking place on all continents. Ukraine took place in such an initiative for the first time; the issue of global climate change is very relevant for us. In May, the press service of Ukraine’s Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources noted that the average temperature in Ukraine increased by 1.5 degrees, which is more than in other countries. Paris Climate Agreement came into force in 2016, and Ukraine was among the first countries that ratified it. Therefore, what measures has the country resorted to improve things and fulfill the conditions of the climate agreement?
The Paris Climate Agreement obliged all states, regardless of the degree of their economic development, to take responsibility for reducing harmful emissions into the atmosphere. Each country, upon its signing, had to create nationally defined contributions to achieve two major goals: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere to zero during the second half of the 21st century, and to prevent the global average temperature from rising by more than 2° C (according to opportunities - by 1.5° C) relative to the indicators of the pre-industrial era.
After discussing the climate goals of each of the countries, it turned out that if you put them together, the average global temperature will increase by at least 3 degrees by the end of the century, which does not correspond to the adopted goal of the Paris Agreement. Then, accordingly, countries pledged that every five years they would review their goal (a nationally determined contribution should be more ambitious and grow over time) and submit it to the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
“Ukraine then set a goal that did not reduce emissions from today, but from the 1990 level, when emissions were much higher (three times more than now). So, we noted that we would reduce our emissions from 1990 to 2030 which, in fact, means an increase in emissions from today's level,” Anna Akermann, head of the Ecoaction (Ekodiya) climate department, assures.
Why did it happen? Then all countries considered their emissions from the 90s, for example, the EU planned to reduce emissions from the 90s by 40% by 2030. Ukraine also focused on such goals. But, according to climate policy expert Yevheniya Zasyadko, most European countries have strengthened their economies since the 1990s, focusing on reducing emissions. We had a very different situation: then the question of developing the economy without increasing emissions was not even considered. “The authorities believed that our emissions will increase due to economic development, and in 2030, we will have a reduction of 40% in comparison to the 90s, which means an increase of 20%. But the current presentation of the National inventory of anthropogenic emissions from sources and removals greenhouse gas sinks in Ukraine showed that even with a growing economy, emissions might remain at the same level, and in the future, with the rejection of fossil fuels, they will decrease,” Zasyadko noted.
That is why one of the first tasks is to fulfill the terms of the agreement is to review the climate goal (a nationally determined contribution).
How Ukraine fulfills the obligations of the agreement
According to the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), an annual rating that, based on several standardized criteria, helps to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of climate protection in 56 countries and the EU, together responsible for more than 90% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Ukraine rose by 18th place.
Climate Change Efficiency Index 2019
However, CCPI experts emphasize that the country's high rating is more likely a result of the economic crisis due to the conflict in Donbas than effective climate policy. They also pointed out the lack of ambition in a nationally determined contribution, which is advised not only to Ukraine, but also to each of the signatory countries, because the 2019 CCPI results illustrate that no country has yet done enough to approximate the purpose of the treaty, and therefore There are no representatives who would lead the first places in the rating.
Sweden, Morocco, and Lithuania take leading positions against other countries. And the most non-progressive in terms of fulfilling the terms of the climate agreement are Saudi Arabia, the USA, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Korea and Chinese Taipei.
Turning back to Ukraine, there are several mechanisms by which the state can limit emissions in a certain way: the greenhouse gas market (as in the EU countries where they trade quotas, either domestically or between other countries) and the greenhouse gas emissions tax.
After ratification of the agreement, the issue of choosing the right mechanism was paused, because both for the introduction of the market and for the establishment of taxes, you must first understand how many emissions the country's enterprises produce. The draft law "On the Principles of Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification of Greenhouse Gas Emissions" was initiated for this purpose. According to the Concept of implementing state policy in the field of climate change for the period up to 2030 (hereinafter - the Concept, the first document at the state level, which aims to limit CO2 emissions), it should be a driving step in implementing the changes.
An action plan was defined: the creation of a monitoring system, verification of emissions reporting (to collect accurate data on the amount of CO2 emissions by industrial enterprises), the development of a quota allocation plan for economic sectors, and the implementation of a greenhouse gas emission permit. Thus, having received a quota, enterprises could implement measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sell excess quotas to another company that lacks its own.
"By the end of the year, this bill should be considered; the Ministry expects that it will be supported. Then work will finally go on, and from 2021, enterprises will be able to submit reports on the new system, which should be open to the public, making it possible to track," Zasyadko says.
This is not the only bill that is currently awaiting a second reading. Let us not forget about a draft law on Ozone-Depleting Substances and Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases. The adoption of the bill will provide legislative consolidation of the provisions governing relations arising in the field of handling controlled substances, and therefore, will contribute to the protection of the ozone layer and will be one of the steps to prevent climate change.
Also, an equally important factor in fulfilling the terms of the climate agreement is the transition to an energy system that provides for the use of energy sources with a low carbon content, the development of sources of clean electric and heat energy, energy efficiency and energy saving in all sectors of the economy and on housing and communal infrastructure facilities - fundamental and full decarbonization of the entire energy sector until 2050, which is a key requirement to achieve the goals of the Paris agreement.
Important decarbonization activities are energy efficiency and renewable energy. Ukraine shows a lot of success in this area. In particular, in the first half of 2019, Ukraine entered the top five countries that are most developing the growth of renewable energy sources. To illustrate: within three months - from July to September 2019 - the capacity of renewable energy sources in Ukraine increased by 1 GW - from 3.6 to 4.6 GW (+ 27.8%).
“During this period, 94 new solar power plants (792 MW of total installed capacity), 6 wind power plants (200 MW), 3 biomass stations (5 MW) and 4 small hydropower plants (3 MW) were built in Ukraine,” the analytical report by IB Center expert group says.
How are other countries fulfilling their goals?
In 2017, China canceled plans to build hundreds of coal stations, India pledged to get 40% of all energy from renewable sources until 2020, and Slovakia, Germany, and the UK are gradually abandoning coal, making the decision to close coal stations.
Moreover, according to the presentation of the 24 Hours of Reality: Truth in Action in Ukraine, 30 countries have already joined the coal rejection alliance, which is dedicated to "taking measures to promote clean energy production and protect the climate by abandoning traditional coal energy. " These are Angola, Austria, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Canada, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Niue, the Marshall Islands, Senegal, Portugal, Tuvalu, etc.
There are also a number of countries that plan to abandon fossil fuel vehicles. For example, as it became known from the presentation of the Climate Reality volunteers, Norway plans to implement the ban in 2025, Denmark, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, the Netherlands and Slovenia – in 2030, Scotland – in 2032, the UK, Canada, France, and Taiwan – in 2040.
Fight for maintaining the temperature
Taking into account the plans of other countries, Ukraine should adopt their experience and strive for similar successes in making decisions regarding preventing the increase in the average global temperature by more than 1.5-2 ° C. But even fulfilling the set goals may not be enough to achieve the goal of the climate agreement.
For example, according to the independent scientific analysis of the Climate Action Tracker, which identifies and evaluates commitments to mitigate climate change and whether countries are ready to fulfill them, none of the countries in the world acts as a role model that really does everything possible to achieve the goal of achieving zero greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of this century. And this is due to the fact that a number of countries are showing good results in fulfilling their national contributions, and some of them (China and India) are on the way to overfulfilling their own promises.
Climate Action Tracker (CAT) International Climate Rating
Another example: according to the World Meteorological Organization, the last four years have been the warmest in the history of observations against the backdrop of a long-term trend of warming.
Moreover, July 2019 was the hottest month in history, and the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere reached a record level (the last time it was about 5 million years ago when the sea level was 20 m higher), as UN Secretary-General Antoni Gutteres noted described in his report at a meeting of leaders of the G7 countries. That is why humanity is now witnessing the melting of glaciers in Greenland, large-scale forest fires in Siberia, Alaska, Canada or the Amazon, mass population migrations and other cataclysms.
Despite these results of measures taken by each country to improve the situation, only Canada, a number of EU countries, as well as Ukraine announced plans to increase obligations after the extreme climate talks in December 2018. Some countries, on the contrary, have tried to promote the ideas of large hydropower and dirty energy projects as a solution to climate change.
"In particular, Poland, which this year hosted the climate talks, represented by the president defended the use of coal in his country in the future, justifying this with energy sovereignty and calling black fuel a" strategic source of energy," reads the article said, prepared by Anna Ackermann from Ecoaction organization.
After the meeting, there were many uncertainties due to the fact that country representatives could not come to a consensus. For example, they could not find a common language regarding the rules for the functioning of such mechanisms, and the initiative to increase the ambitiousness of nationally defined contributions was negatively perceived by Saudi Arabia, the United States, Kuwait, and Russia - countries that are more dependent on oil production and other fossil fuels. Obviously, while a number of other developed countries began to invest in renewable energy, which, according to Lazard, has a clear trend towards lowering its value; representatives of the above countries are convinced that tightening environmental policies is economically disadvantageous for them.