What next for Jordan after COP26?

COP26 (Shada)
Final preparations are made for the start of The Procedural Opening of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland on October 31, 2021, on the first day of the conference. (Photo: AFP)
Overcoming Glasgow’s cold weather, daily COVID-19 tests, and street blockages due to climate protests, the approximately 30,000 participants in this year’s Conference of Parties (COP26) were determined to deliver tangible results for global climate action. Although the conclusion of COP26 left something to be desired in terms of commitments that can limit global warming to 1.5°C, there is general consensus that the conference at least “keeps 1.5°C alive and finalizes the Paris Agreement”. That is to say, the “Glasgow Compact” has filled gaps previously left in the “Paris Rulebook” relating to carbon market mechanisms (the so-called “Article 6” of the Paris Agreement) as well as delivered clearer commitments to increase the much-needed finance for climate change adaptation.اضافة اعلان

Despite significant commitments made around reducing methane emissions and increasing forestation, the proverbial elephant in the room remained due to the absence of urgent commitment to phase out fossil fuels. Nonetheless, Jordan and countries of the global south stand to gain from the outcomes of COP26 through new opportunities for financing through carbon markets, and an increased focus on adaptation.

With relatively negligible emissions at the global scale, it is laudable that Jordan still managed to submit updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change only weeks ahead of COP26, raising its ambition of greenhouse gas reduction to 31 percent by 2030. But this comes at an estimated price tag of $7.54 billion for climate mitigation actions, with 26 percent contingent upon international financing. Therefore, COP26 represented a valuable opportunity for Jordan to engage with international partners and investors seeking to achieve common climate goals. One such positive opportunity came in the form of an agreement signed between the Jordanian government and Australian company Fortescue Future Industries to explore green hydrogen development in Jordan. If found feasible, such a project could translate to much-needed foreign direct investment (FDI), green local jobs, and export potential; all considered top priorities for Jordan’s economic growth. This opportunity demonstrates the development co-benefits of promoting a green, economic transition as promoted in Jordan’s National Green Growth Action plans, as well as updated NDCs. This is also in line with the latest government priorities which includes FDI promotion among its key objectives for a resilient, post-COVID economic recovery.

Another positive development at COP26 which Jordan should leverage is the leadership demonstrated by fellow Arab countries to host COP27 and COP28; Egypt and the UAE, respectively. This year, Jordan was among the countries participating in COP26 with a national delegation comprising representatives from the public, non-governmental sectors, youth and media. Although members of the delegation were able to represent Jordan’s achievements in some areas (for example, I had the pleasure to shed light on Jordan’s Green Recovery Plan in progress, and colleagues at the Jordan Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Fund took part in the launch of the Clean Heat Forum), there is an opportunity for Jordan to plan a stronger, more strategic presence next year in Egypt. Given its location in the African continent, Egypt is well-positioned to draw the world’s attention towards the urgency of investing in climate adaptation and resilience, particularly in countries of the region already at risk from the impacts of climate change; for example, floods in Jordan, sea level rise in Egypt, forest fires in Lebanon, and cyclones in Oman. Therefore, this is an important opportunity for regional leadership and cooperation on advancing shared climate adaptation goals.

Similarly, COP28 in the UAE represents an opportunity for Jordan and countries of the region to highlight regional innovations and investments in clean, low carbon technologies. This includes lessons learned from pioneering sustainability projects in the region like Abu Dhabi’s Masdar, Amman’s waste-to-energy plant, as well as some of the largest solar projects globally including Noor Ourzazate Solar Complex in Morocco and Benban Solar park in Egypt. Although overall the region is perceived as a key contributor to fossil fuels (at least oil exporting countries of the GCC), there are clear commitments and serious steps taken to advance a low carbon (or even net zero) economic transition in the coming decades. Jordan can, therefore, advance the implementation of mitigation projects included in its updated NDCs, particularly in its energy and transport sectors in 2022-2033 in order to highlight achievements and attract further green investments through a targeted promotion strategy at COP28. 

It is clear that Jordan has all the key pieces in place to leverage climate change as a driver for development, diverting both national and international investments towards resilience and mitigation projects. Jordan should continue to document and communicate progress, in order to build momentum for financing and cooperation ahead of COP27 next year.

Shada El-Sharif is a climate and sustainability advisor.

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