Creating change through technical assistance and capacity building on the ground – how NIRAS helps in the race to climate resilience and net zero

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Business Development Director

November 2, 2022

The climate summit in Glasgow (COP26) in November last year closed with a multitude of promising pledges from governments, businesses and other leaders to tackle the climate crisis. These included commitments to set new national emission-reductions targets, double adaptation finance, curb methane emissions, halt forest loss, accelerate the phase-out of coal, and end international financing for fossil fuels, just to name a few.

In the months since, the geopolitical landscape and challenges have significantly changed: Russia’s war in Ukraine and sky-rocketing inflation have caused global energy and food prices to soar, distracting leaders and consumers from climate action. In this context, the growing momentum on climate action has stalled.

But the warnings keep coming. Three recently published key UN agency reports signal that we are not on track to meeting the Paris Agreement goals:

  • The UN environment agency’s report found there was “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place” and that “woefully inadequate” progress reducing carbon emissions means the only option to limit the worst impacts of the climate crisis is a “rapid transformation of societies”.
  • The UN’s meteorological agency reported that all key greenhouse gases hit record highs in 2021, with an alarming surge in methane emissions.
  • The IEA’s world energy report highlighted progress in that carbon emissions from fossil fuels could peak by 2025 as high energy prices push nations towards clean energy, though it warned that it would not be enough to avoid severe climate impacts.
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Against this backdrop, governments are again gathering at this year’s Climate Summit (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6-18 November 2022 and will need to agree on how they can step up action and fulfil the commitments they made at the summit last year.

Three main priorities have been put forth to ensure fruitful discussions:

  1. Addressing climate impacts: A deal on Loss and Damage finance will be a core focus to get the most vulnerable countries on board. Climate vulnerable countries want a dedicated finance facility to address loss and damage, though donor countries such as US and EU are hesitant to commit. Developing countries will also be looking for more certainty from developed countries about how their pledges to double adaptation finance by 2025 will be fulfilled.
  2. Delivering on climate finance pledges: The $100bn climate finance promise remains unmet, despite the fact that  far greater scales of finance are needed to properly resource climate action and development. Developed countries will be under pressure to make their commitments concrete and demonstrate their willingness to reform the global financial architecture to align with climate goals.
  3. Avoiding backsliding: Given the current geo-political and economic pressures, it will be crucial for world leaders to re-assert their commitments on ambitious climate action and the green energy transition. Across the global governance order, including e.g. the international trade regime, transformational change will be needed to tackle the climate crisis.

While we remain hopeful for a clear and joint global governance framework for the transformational change required - and science-informed political commitments to come into place - NIRAS continues to focus on supporting changes on the ground that could lead the way.

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We are involved in a number of projects that focus on the transition to sustainable economic growth empowering local communities and change makers to play a role in the green transition, some of which I have mentioned below. My colleague Kirsty Wilson provides further insights on our project based lessons-learned with a specific focus on locally-led adaptation and climate just community support in her recent blog to be found here.

  • The Green Economic Growth for Papua Provinces Programme (GEG), funded by the UK Low Carbon Development Group and more recently USAID, is now completing its 5th year of implementation. Led by NIRAS, the GEG team works with Papuan small-holder farmers and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to help build sustainable and thriving businesses that will not threaten the natural environment as they grow.
  • The Mobilising Finance for Forests (MFF) programme is a £150M UK-government funded initiative managed by FMO – the Dutch development bank – which invests in sustainable land use and forestry companies. Under the programme, NIRAS is leading a Technical Assistance Facility, working directly with FMO and investee companies to bring sustainability; environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG); and international best practise into the projects. By designing and delivering TA, we further de-risk these projects to catalyse more private investment.
  • NIRAS is proud to support the work of the Danida-fellowship-centre offering learning opportunities to Denmark’s partners in developing and growth countries. One of these – a course entitled “Reporting from the African Frontline of the Global Climate Crisis” – aims to pave the way for climate news and feature stories that are relevant for Africans. It is designed for professional journalists, including photographers and videographers, working in African print and broadcast media who have both experience and a keen interest in covering the global climate crisis and environmental issues.

We will be posting more details about these and other projects in the coming days to showcase how action on the local level - supported by implementing organisations such as NIRAS – can contribute to the big picture of change at the global level, especially where it is replicated and scaled up.

We all have a role to play. Let’s work #TogetherForImplemention.