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July 3 2022 11:06 AM ˚
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COP26 presents an important opportunity for Jordan’s climate ambitions

Shada El-Sharif. (Photo: Jordan News)
Shada El-Sharif. (Photo: Jordan News)
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The 100-day countdown to the much-anticipated Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow has started, with countries ramping up their climate “actions” and “ambitions” (words we have been hearing at an accelerating rate as we enter the “decade of action,” to meet both climate and the SDG targets).اضافة اعلان

Examples from the world’s top emitters include the EU’s pledge to become the first ‘climate neutral’ continent by 2050, China’s aim to peak emissions by 2030 and reach neutrality by 2060, and the US’ updated targets to reduce carbon emissions by 50-52 percent by 2030 (compared to 2005).

However, this is definitely one global meeting where actions in the near term, not just future commitments, will be the flavor of the day (as Greta Thunberg often reminds us!).  In a world still in the throes of a relentless pandemic, extreme weather events and natural disasters are serving a double blow to humanity. Climate change impacts are no longer a distant threat, but a reality manifesting itself in different ways across the planet; more intense heat waves (the past decade was considered the hottest on record), accelerated sea level rise, and increasingly destructive floods, to name a few.

Jordan, and the Mediterranean region in general, is considered a climate change “hot spot,” where climate-responsive planning needs to be at the center of the national agenda. Fortunately, Jordan can emerge as a regional leader in climate planning and action, leveraging the important global meeting at COP26 to forge partnerships, attract investments and share its story with the world.

The almost universal ratification of the Paris Agreement (PA) is considered a landmark achievement in international climate diplomacy — at least in setting a common vision for limiting average global temperature rise to “well below” 2oC (with subsequent expert reports calling for further limiting the increase to 1.5oC). The “how”, however, was left to countries to propose through voluntarily issuance of their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs); with Jordan among the first countries in the region to officially issue its NDCs in 2016. Jordan’s NDCs communicated national climate priorities at the time, with a commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 14 percent by 2030 and a financing need of about $5.7 billion (with 12.5 percent contingent on international assistance).

In order to ensure fruitful participation in Glasgow, Jordan can take a number of strategic steps; first, as the Ministry of Environment leads the process to update Jordan’s NDCs ahead of COP26, joining the ranks of first movers globally, the focus should not only be on raising carbon reduction ambition (which is certainly an option), but more importantly to communicate key climate vulnerabilities, adaptation needs, and opportunities for investments in green, climate-responsive infrastructure.

The National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (NAP), recently released by the Ministry of Environment is an important starting point, which highlights the major climate-related hazards facing the country, including “extreme temperature droughts, flash floods, storms, and landslides.”

Jordan has already witnessed loss of lives and livelihoods due to extreme weather events, which are expected to worsen, so investment in disaster risk reduction (DRR) measures and climate-responsive infrastructure is critical for Jordan’s resilience and broader economic development aspirations. Promoting partnerships on these areas at COP26 can both address a national climate priority as well as translate to green investment opportunities in key sectors like water, agriculture and urban planning.  Jordan can be among the countries calling developed economies to fulfill a decade-old promise of $100 billion annually in climate financing for developing countries until 2025.

Secondly, Jordan can highlight its leadership in climate change policy development, and attract funding for its pipeline of climate-responsive, green projects. It was the first country in the region to issue a Climate Change Policy in 2013 (currently being updated), and a National Green Growth Plan (NGGP) in 2017, followed by six sectoral Green Growth National Action Plan with 83 proposed policy and project interventions at an estimated implementation cost of $1.8 billion (more than half of which are climate actions, geared at private sector investment).

The Ministry of Environment has also taken proactive steps to engage key sectors in prioritizing and costing its NDCs, which have informed ongoing green recovery plans. COVID-19 has brought to the fore the strategic importance of a green, climate-responsive economic recovery for Jordan, which has translated into a key pillar of the latest Government Indicative Executive Program, ongoing updates of the Five-Year Reform Matrix, and the $500-million Program for Results recently agreed between the government and the World Bank, with a strong focus on a climate-resilient and inclusive recovery by promoting public-private climate investments and building a climate finance governance framework. A green investment program was also launched this year by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and EU.

Thirdly, as highlighted by His Majesty King Abdullah during his meeting in the US with Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, “Jordan can lead the region in driving clean energy deployment and marine protection, while also building sustainable solutions to water scarcity and other climate-driven impacts already facing the Kingdom.”

COP26 is an opportunity to showcase Jordan’s success as a regional hub for climate and green innovation, which can enable scale-ups within Jordan and beyond. Jordan is home to over 20,000 electric cars with a developing e-mobility program, utility-scale solar and wind farms pumping clean energy to the grid, one of the most energy-efficient wastewater treatment plants, a growing community of green entrepreneurs, the lowest nature reserve on earth, climate resilient corals, and live examples of nature-based solutions including the first Miyawaki forest in the Arab region.  

COP26 is no doubt an important opportunity to retell the story of Jordan and the region, from one of resource scarcity and conflict, to one of climate innovation and green investment.

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