Statement by Dr Arjun Karki, Global Coordinator, LDC Watch at Parliamentarians Forum for a Fossil Fuel Free Future and the Doha Programme of Action, 6th March, 2023, Doha, Qatar

Dr Arjun Karki, Global Coordinator, LDC Watch
Statement for Parliamentarians for a Fossil Fuel-Free Future and the Doha Programme of Action
06 March, 2023, Doha, Qatar

Honourable Members of Parliaments, CSO leaders, dear Friends, and Colleagues, I am honored to be here with you to share my thoughts on behalf of LDC civil society in my role as the Global Coordinator of LDC Watch. I want to speak today on the issue at hand, specifically the critical need to phase out fossil fuels and transition to renewable and clean energy systems as we move on toward the future.

Hon. Members of Parliament, Ladies, and Gentlemen, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its various assessment reports, has emphasized that developed countries should cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 80-90% from 1990 levels and that global emissions should peak by 2025, fall by 43% below their 2019 levels by 2030 and 84% by 2050, which if not achieved, would result in global warming of 3.2 degrees Celcius by the year 2100 resulting in an unlivable world. We, as LDC civil society and also along APMDD are echoing this but we are calling for not only an 84% reduction but a full phase-out, that is a transition to 100% renewable and clean energy systems by 2050.

As we sit here, I am sure we are well aware of the issues at hand when it comes to the urgency of the climate catastrophe and the energy crisis that we are all facing, which has now become an existential threat to humanity. So I will not go so deep into the issues that are plaguing us but look at ways to move forward.

The question now, as we gather on the auspices of the LDC5 conference, is how we can bring together our calls regarding the just transition and connect it to the Doha Programme of Action. Transition to 100% renewable and clean energy systems requires urgent actions but what we find time and again is that the actors involved, including governments, businesses, workers, and communities, have a tendency to protect the status quo and keep carbon-intensive industries alive.

Also, along with the IPCC’s recommendations, the Doha Programme of Action recognizes the need for “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions” in Paragraph 221 and acceleration of efforts towards the “phasing down of unabated coal power and phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” while providing targeted support to vulnerable countries in Paragraph 138 of the document. In this regard, it is of critical importance that rich and industrialized nations which historically caused climate crisis in the first place should make sincere efforts towards limiting carbon emissions to “well below 1.5 degrees” as outlined in the Paris Accord.

Hon. Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen, Ironically, while the countries that have already industrialized using fossil fuels beseech much poorer countries to do more to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, they themselves are reviving coal-fired power plants today amidst the energy crisis worsened by the Russia-Ukraine war. In addition, these governments are actively supporting the use of dirty fuels by heavily subsidizing their fossil-fuel industries. Governments across the world, including the US, Russia, and European countries, provided subsidies worth USD 5.9 trillion in 2020. The UN in its recent report says that for every dollar pledged to tackle the climate crisis for the world’s poor, four dollars are spent on fossil fuel subsidies that keep the climate crisis alive. It is clear that Fossil fuel subsidies are both inefficient and inequitable. Across developing countries, about half of the amount of public resources spent to support fossil fuel consumption benefits the richest 20 percent of the population. Along with subsidies, International Financial Institutions and private and Public and National Banks are guilty of providing financing for Fossil Fuel Power Plants and other industries, worsening the situation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, what we have to remember and ensure is that a transition to renewable energy is a “just” transition. This concept of a “just transition” requires all of us to apply the same level of commitment―to ensure the energy transition is just, inclusive, and sustainable. Energy transitions are about people—workers, consumers, businesses, communities, taxpayers, and voters—who make decisions that lead to transitions and are ultimately affected by them. Workers, communities, and women must be protected from the negative impacts of the energy transition, for example, through social protection measures. A just transition is not a fixed set of rules, but a vision and a process based on dialogue and a tripartite agenda shared by workers, industry, and governments that needs to be negotiated and implemented in its geographical, political, cultural, and social context. Moreover, in the acceleration towards a sustainable energy transition, we have to embed justice. According to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly SDG Goal 7, we must ensure universal energy access while implementing the energy transition, known as “leaving no one behind”.

Hon. Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe it is critical to underscore the importance of International Cooperation when it comes to phasing out fossil fuels. Careful planning and international coordination are essential to meet the twin challenges of phasing out rapidly enough to avoid catastrophic climate change while ensuring equity and a global just transition. International cooperation is critical to complement the Paris Agreement by helping explicitly address the primary source of carbon dioxide emissions. We can learn lessons from other successful global campaigns for international agreements that may provide a more concrete pathway. Vulnerable and exploited countries can come together and I am sure they are able to exercise significant influence by generating collaboration between fossil fuel consumer countries and producer countries to decrease and eventually stop production by new international legal standards and shifting away from the norm. We also need to address the financial flows that go through to the finance sector, through governments, and ultimately through domestic policy-making.

Fact-finding missions and research can be critical steps to establish a common understanding of the global coordination challenge around fossil fuel supply. We need to build a diplomatic support system for which I believe that we can receive support from our Members of Parliament. We need to focus on gathering the evidence base for how we can transition away from fossil fuels with participation growing as momentum builds. In this way, I am sure that we can build more political will to pursue international cooperation on the fossil fuel phase-out.

International cooperation in the form of technology development and transfer, capacity building, and access to financial resources is critical, especially for LDCs. Similarly, International solidarity and support are needed to stop the weakening of democracy and to strengthen people’s movements and civil society. These are crucial to stop the funding and building of new dirty energy projects, stop false climate solutions, ensure a rapid phase-out of existing coal, gas, oil, and harmful energy projects, and hasten the transition towards renewable energy systems. Also, regional solidarity is critical. To move the world away from its reliance on fossil fuels, pressure must be applied from regional levels. Funds required for rectification of loss and damage from fossil fuel exploitation can come through the payment of ecological or climate debt by nations most responsible for climate change. Countries from the global north should be made to be a part of the solution and are encouraged to invest both in their own transition and also to finance transitions in poorer countries.

Hon. Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen, What we find today is that there is a recognition of the urgency of energy transition and also a “just transition” but while recognition is there, there is no action and as we have time and again learned from past experiences, Inaction can be costly. As we have parliamentarians with us who are signatories to the call of Parliamentarians for a fossil fuel-free future to support us, it is our collective duty to persuade governments, public institutions, and businesses to take more decisive climate action, in particular, to move away from fossil fuels and accelerate the development of renewable and clean energy systems. Our goal should be to catalyze a shared understanding and transformative action toward the successful implementation of Just Transition policies worldwide, even as we recognize that the details of the transitions differ at national scales. It is critical, in this regard, to help advance inclusive community-centered dialogue with all relevant stakeholder groups (communities, civil society, policymakers, and the private sector) to facilitate and identify common ground to ensure the path to energy transition is socially just and sustainable. This involves understanding the needs of those currently engaged in fossil fuel supply chains and services as they transition to renewable energy alternatives. These local transitions will together form a global transformation, with common principles to ensure success, including climate justice, international cooperation, equitable social and economic policies, community and environmental resilience, and access to finance.

Ladies and gentlemen, as I end my statement, I would like to remind all of us that at this juncture, a people-centered just energy transition is critical to addressing current and future challenges as we constantly find ourselves in the midst of a climate crisis. The concept of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) needs to also contribute to enhancing a just energy transition. Countries with less capacity and heavier burdens like the LDCs, in the overall quest for clean energy transition, should be technologically and financially supported. This fundamental basis must be translated into effective international cooperation and global partnership while leaving no one behind. Thank You.