JL from the WMO chaired the session on the GFCS and he imposed a no-acronyms policy for the duration of the side-event… or in other words, Jerry Lengosa, from the World Meteorological Organization requested that the speakers minimize the jargon when talking about the Global Framework for Climate Services; there were a few transgressions, but by-and-large, the participants adhered to the ban.
So what is the Global Framework for Climate Services?
“Better management of the risks of climate variability and change and adaptation to climate change, through the development and incorporation of science-based climate information and prediction into planning, policy and practice on the global, regional and national scale.”
This is an upgrade of the work of the WMO, an agency of the United Nations, which is focused on all things weather and climate. The WMO gathers, compiles and lobbies for more standardised weather and climate data, and it also works with many governments, national and international organisations to facilitate better sharing of this data. While most of the data the WMO gathers is for improved monitoring of weather and climate, it also has particular a focus on advance warnings for natural disasters, 90% of which are weather, climate or water related. A need was identified for an enhanced platform for this work and thus the GFCS project was born.
The GFCS has four priority areas: agriculture, water, health and disaster risk reduction. First and foremost, the GFCS will be a data portal providing access to the latest climate and weather information, in order to improve communications between the climate and agriculture and food security communities, partner climate services and water resources management and strengthen regional systems for providing climate services. The image below includes a list of expected users as well summarising what the GFCS will be.
As an example of what the GCFS is striving to do, many of the countries most vulnerable to climate change are also the most data-poor countries and are thus ill-equipped to form adaptation strategies: part of the goal of the GFCS is a technology transfer of observations and modelling capacity to these countries in order that they build the infrastructure required to monitor and predict weather. The GFCS is also a framework for identifying knowledge-gaps in current weather-climate prediction capabilities, one deficiency identified, but not remedied yet, is the current gap in weather prediction abilities between 10 days and 6 months.
“We must account for current and future climate since these are not the same anymore”, was the conclusion of Darrel Danyluk, an engineer, from the World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO, aka the UN of Engineers). Darrel first outlined the relationship between the WFEO and the WMO (another definition coming up), which has been formalized in a memorandum of understanding, “technical collaboration to define and meet the needs of engineers and engineering for civil infrastructure for present and future climate information”. During his presentation, Darrel emphasized that his profession would require “information products” rather than raw data from the WMO. This difference between data and information was repeated in another presentation, “even when it’s raining data, there is an information drought”.
During the Q&A session I asked Darrel what variables he would need from the fifty Essential Climate Variables (ECVs), which the WMO have said are essential from the perspective of monitoring climate.
“For my work, rainfall duration, frequency and intensity. For electrical engineers designing the transmission and distribution system, they need data on the number of freezing nights. For building engineers, it’s snow loads, wind loads and freeze-thaw cycles.”
Next, it was a side event jointly hosted by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment and Global Environment Centre Foundation, which is based in Osaka, Japan. If the manner of starting of the Irish event had indicating a loose interpretation of punctuality, then the Japanese side-event demonstrated a much more literal attitude: at the precise starting time (16:45), the chair had all five of his speakers seated and ready, he then rang a bell to get the audience’s attention, informing them that the event was about to begin. But the tone was warm and friendly throughout, with lots of tittering amongst the speakers.
The side-event was entitled “Development of JCM/BOCM and its methodology through Feasibility Studies”. To explain these absurd acronyms, I must, unfortunately, introduce another acronym: CDM, which stands for Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The CDM is a Kyoto Protocol mechanism whereby a developed country funds an emission reduction project in a developing country. For the developing country, the primary benefit is typically increased energy efficiency, improved air quality or enhanced energy security whereas the emissions reduction is typically a secondary or co-benefit. For the developed country on the other hand, emissions reduction is the primary purpose for their contribution to the project, because through various accounting mechanisms, they can claim some of the emissions reduction as credit towards meeting their own emissions reduction targets. In addition, for country like Japan, which manufactures nearly everything, there are clear economic benefits as well.
Yuji Mizuno, from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment explained Japan’s version of the CDM mechanism: JCM (Joint Crediting Mechanism) and BOCM (Bilateral Offset Credit Mechanism), two acronyms which both mean the same thing. The JCM/BOCM are seen as a complement to the CDM.
Japan is currently supporting JCM projects in Mongolia, Bangladesh and most recently Ethiopia. Although the JCM initiative is quite new so all the projects are only at the feasibility stage. It was very interesting to hear the perspectives from Mongolia and Bangladesh, two countries very different to Ireland.
Dr. Dagvadorj Damdin from the Mongolian Ministry of the Environment and Green Development gave a presentation about his country. As of 2011, Agriculture and Mining sector are together accounting for more than 50% of the GDP; concomitantly, the carbon intensity of their GDP is extremely high because of all the coal mining. The annual mean air temperature of Mongolia has increased by 2.14 C between 1940 and 2008. A UNDP study highlighted the potential for GHG emission savings by insulating the building stock and a NREL study highlighted the potential 1,100 GW wind resource in Mongolia.
A “Low Carbon Development Partnership” agreement between Mongolia and Japan was just signed in January of this year. Many of the activities to-date have been feasibility studies and demonstration of Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) requirements. There has also been substantial capacity building and knowledge raising including for example, workshops on “environmentally friendly technologies and measures in the energy supply sector”.
Mr. Ziaul Haque from the Bangladesh Ministry of the Environment and Forests gave a presentation about his country and potential JCM projects with Japan. Some of the GHG mitigation measures Bangladesh have identified include solar PV irrigation pumps, modal shift from road to waterway, metering residential gas supply (it seems their policy on gas consumption is like Ireland’s policy on water meters), solar PV lanterns to replace kerosene lamps and using higher efficiency kilns for brick making.
The most effective (and most expensive) mitigation measures are on the energy supply side: upgrading the existing coal-fired power generation to supercritical boilers and building new gas powered electricity plants. The Japanese Marubeni Corporation is currently investigating construction of a new 410 MW Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power plant. This isn’t unlike Ireland, in that most of our emissions reduction in the electricity sector has to-date been as a results of much new CCGT capacity.
The last two speakers (Mr. Tatsushi Hemmi & Dr. Osamu Bannai) at this side-event discussed the administration of the JCM projects, but the clock was ticking on the event and their presentations were quite rushed. After a very brief Q&A, the chair cut short the event: the side-event had now exceeded its allotted time, and there was another group outside waiting to come in.
“We are now minus time”, said the chair.
Something that could also be said about the whole UNFCCC effort.