Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Latest Tango in Paris


"Would you be interested in a smoke-less choolha?
...And how about a lantern that takes energy from the sun to light up your home at night?"

If you are shooting these questions at a bleary eyed villager's wife in a remote village in South Asia,  bewildered disbelief is what you would get. Why would anybody come around asking such inane questions? Would such new fangled things fit into the rough and tumble of living on a farm? Who can afford such gadgets anyway?

And yet, this is exactly what is happening in hundreds of villages in Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, and other parts of the world. Life is becoming a wee bit easier -- thanks to events that have been unfolding in far away places like Stockholm, Rio De Janerio, Cartagena, and now, Paris.

Thanks to increasingly unpredictable changes in weather patterns, Climate Change has gradually moved from the realm of eggheads to actions that have a real impact on the ground.

Back in October, 1991, a diverse group of 183 countries met at Rio de Janerio. This meeting led to Conference of Parties (CoP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Then a partnership with international institutions to deal with global environmental issues led to the formation of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Since then this insitution has provided over $12.5 billion in grants and leveraging $58 billion in co-financing for over 3,690 projects in over 165 countries.

This is an endeavour of amazing complexity. As with other most multilateral funding projects, GEF too operates through a wide range f partners: UNDP, UNIDO, ADB, WB, and a host of bilateral agencies and national governments. Each of them has a different way of working - UNDP partners with local government bodies while ADB and WB seem to prefer a a more direct approach to disbursal of funds.

For the past two decades, a complex machinery has been slowly grinding its way through the buureaucracy, resulting in some of the most unexpected sights across the world: people lugging equipment across remote areas -  wind turbines, micro/mini hydel systems, solar panels -  trying to get self-contained communities to increase their dependence on strange, new equipment, all for the Greater Common Good.

What about the biggest guzzlers of fossil fuels, like factories, power plants and automobiles?  Until now big changes in the developing countries were conditional upon receiving finance and technology from developed countries, as entitlements, not as foreign assistance.

How does the Paris Agreement change this?

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LINKS & REFERENCES

* UNFCC - Technology Transfer Framework -- http://unfccc.int/ttclear/templates/render_cms_page?TTF_home

* https://www.thegef.org/gef/gef_projects_funding

* (15 Dec 15 IE) - A long way from Rio -- http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/paris-climate-talks-a-long-way-from-rio/



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