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IPW: ‘Blueing’ the Paris Agreement at COP27, and New Zealand’s International Climate Finance Strategy

04 October 2022

In this week’s Infrastructure Policy Watch, we outline developments in ocean-related climate action and New Zealand’s plans for climate investment.

IPW: ‘Blueing’ the Paris Agreement at COP27, and New Zealand’s International Climate Finance Strategy
Oceans have a vast potential to store carbon. Image credit: Damsea/Shutterstock

Key takeaways from the UN Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue report

The UN Climate Change Secretariat has published a new report highlighting the vital importance of ocean-related climate action.

The report focuses on the need to promote clear and long-horizon policy frameworks as a key priority to cut greenhouse gas emissions - including through offshore renewable energy and reducing emissions from shipping (a sector where emissions are currently rising).

Oceans cover around 70% of the surface of the planet.

People living in coastal regions continue to be at the forefront of the fight against climate change and are consequently heavily impacted by its effects. Coastal infrastructure is also extremely vulnerable.

At the same time, oceans have a vast potential to store carbon, and coastal waters are a prime location for renewable energy projects and ecosystem protection and restoration.

More climate action is needed

The significance of oceans for biodiversity and our climate system as a whole means that greater ocean-related climate action at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November is needed.

Governments and regulators can speed up the transition from fossil fuels using ocean resources, alongside developing ocean resilience strategies.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) energy roadmaps for a 1.5°C pathway indicate that offshore renewable energy should be a central pillar of the global energy system by 2050.

However, despite rising annual installation rates, global offshore wind capacity was only 57 gigawatts in 2021.

Furthermore, according to the report, grid investments must triple from current levels by 2030.

If offshore renewable technologies are paired with adaptation strategies (for example, mangrove forest protection with wave energy) the result can protect the lives and rights of coastal and marine communities at risk.

The Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue report highlights 10 key messages for international governments to consider ahead of COP27 relating to climate action. These include:

  • Integrating marine technology, and marine and coastal nature-based solutions,
  • Improving ocean science and other knowledge systems, and
  • Increasing funding for ocean-climate action.

ICE’s view

This year has been dubbed the ‘super year for the ocean’ due to a number of key breakthroughs in ocean-related climate action. It follows that implementation plans for ocean climate action at a national and local level must be accelerated.

Renewable energy, including offshore technology, is essential to delivering decarbonisation and a just net zero transition.

The current energy crisis is an opportunity for governments to speed up the push towards low carbon energy systems. These would ensure long-term security of supply, and deliver the emissions cuts needed to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Looking forward and increasing investment into renewables, rather than backward toward fossil fuels, will also improve the UK’s long-term energy security.

Unlocking funding and strengthening finance and other support, including capacity building, to provide innovative and multidisciplinary solutions to protect our oceans is key.

New Zealand government releases paper on International Climate Finance Strategy

Aotearoa New Zealand has released a paper on their International Climate Finance Strategy, having agreed to a $1.3 billion climate finance commitment covering 2022 to 2025 back in October 2021.

Climate change is already increasing the severity and frequency of flooding, landslides, storms and droughts in New Zealand alongside rising sea levels.

New Zealand’s adaptation plan has previously set out current efforts to build climate resilience, proposed long-term programmes and critical priorities for the next six years.

This International Climate Finance Strategy sets out New Zealand’s vision, engagement principles and desired outcomes for delivering a high-impact portfolio of climate finance investments.

The strategy’s aim is to meet Paris Agreement goals, while also building resilience to climate change impacts in developing countries.

New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) will deliver the strategy in collaboration with other government departments, alongside local and international partners.

The strategy has four key goals:

  • Accelerated climate change mitigation action,
  • Enhanced resilience and adaptation,
  • Improved institutional capability and evidence-based decision-making, and
  • Leveraged investment to achieve greater climate impact.

Each goal relates to several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), recognising the connection between New Zealand’s goals and the SDGs.

ICE’s view

Financing more resilient and climate adaptive infrastructure is required to meet net zero targets.

To deliver transformative outcomes, governments need to ensure that robust frameworks are in place, with long-term infrastructure strategies linked to key national objectives and sustainable funding.

New Zealand’s new Climate Finance Strategy shows the country is leading the way and prioritising climate finance, focusing on investing in building intergenerational climate resilience to rapidly reduce emissions and meet international commitments like the UN SDGs.

In case you missed it:

  • Andrew Jones MP, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Infrastructure, assesses the new UK government’s plans on infrastructure.
  • 5 key infrastructure takeaways from the 2022 Labour Party Conference.
  • ICE analyses how New Zealand government’s review aligns with Enabling Better Infrastructure (EBI) principles.
  • 5 takeaways on infrastructure from the UK’s Growth Plan.

Check back in a fortnight for the next edition of the ICE's Infrastructure Policy Watch.

You can also sign up to ICE Informs to get a monthly digest of the latest policy activities from ICE, including calls for evidence to support our ongoing advice to policymakers.

  • Laura Cunliffe-Hall, interim lead policy manager at ICE