Small is beautiful – Small-scale sustainable energy solutions in Central Asia

17 Dec 2015 by Marko Capek (Low carbon development, Technical expert, UNDP Croatia) and Zoran Kordic (Low carbon development, Junior expert, UNDP Croatia)

Communities are trained to use their brand new equipment. Credits: Marko Capek.
Communities are showing the world how small initiatives to fight the effects of climate change can have enormous impacts. At UNDP in Croatia, we are part of a project that focuses on finding sustainable energy solutions that are rooted in affordable, locally available technologies and resources. As part of our South-South cooperation efforts, we help take simple clean energy technologies that are already in use in Croatia and test to see whether they can also be used in Central Asian countries. In Tajikistan, we have been searching for ways to introduce energy efficient technologies that can ensure a green development pathway for local communities. Traditionally, stoves throughout the country are heated with firewood, a work-intensive resource that not only takes up precious time in families’ days (you have to chop the firewood, transport it, etc.), but is also putting strains on the environment via deforestation, as well as ultimately contributing CO2 emissions to the atmosphere. In this case, the old way was not the best way. Tajikistan has abundant potential for solar energy—enjoying 300 sunny days a year—and so we introduced a pilot project in rural communities in which we held workshops to show communities how to produce simple solar thermal … Read more

Seeing the light: Energy efficient lighting in Russia

11 Dec 2015 by John O’Brien, Regional Technical Advisor, Climate Change Mitigation, Istanbul Regional Centre, UNDP

Did you know that, until recently, there was no requirement in Russia to consider minimum energy efficient performance standards for lighting products in any state procurement? That’s right, state sector organizations in Russia could pretty much purchase what they liked. In the lighting sector, the cheapest lighting products are almost always also the most inefficient. This gave virtually no incentive to promote energy efficiency because in Russia (as is the case in many other countries) state procurement guidelines normally call for the selection of the “least-cost” product (i.e. least expensive) that meets the required minimum technical specifications. This provides a strong preference for low-cost, inefficient technologies, despite the fact that over time they consume more energy. You might greet this with a shrug, thinking that that’s just the nature of bureaucracies. But the issue is too important to shrug off—replacing inefficient lighting technologies has the potential to reduce significant amounts of CO2. For example, in the United States the public procurement of efficient lighting has reaped serious dividends: It has been calculated by the Department of Energy that replacing 100 incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps CFLs can reduce 31.5 metric tonnes of CO2 over the course of the product’s nine … Read more

The road to COP22: Seizing the gender opportunity

11 Dec 2015 by Dr. Fouad Bergigui, Program Analyst – Environment and Sustainable Development, UNDP Morocco

What does gender have to do with climate change? While the answer might seem obvious now, that hasn’t always been the case. In fact, there was no mention of gender in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change during the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Gender would only officially be recognized nine years later, during COP7 in Marrakech, Morocco. What happened after Marrakech? Gender became dormant again for almost 10 years, and the subject was only revived in the Cancun and Doha COPs (held in 2010 and 2012, respectively), which saw a shift towards building women’s capacities and enhancing their participation in the UNFCCC process. A number of follow-up workshops were held, and a two-year work program on gender issues was established in Lima in 2014 to promote gender balance and achieve a gender-responsive climate policy. Linking gender responsiveness to climate action is finally gaining momentum. This is long overdue, given the overwhelming evidence that women are the majority in several important areas: they are the majority of the world’s poor, they are the majority of those involved in agriculture and forest management, they are the majority of those securing livelihoods based on natural resources when the man goes to … Read more

Women should be at the heart of every resilience initiative

08 Dec 2015 by Imèn Meliane, Climate Adaptation Consultant for UNDP

Fatoumata Diamara, head of a women’s collective in the commune of Cinzana demonstrating the solar-powered mill, one of the tools provided by the multi-functional platform. Photo Credit: Imèn Meliane
That’s a strong statement, I know, and I remain a bit surprised at myself for believing it so deeply—for most of my life, I didn’t think of myself as a diehard gender advocate. But a lot has changed since I visited Mali a couple months ago.  Prior to my current position with UNDP, I worked on adaptation, disaster risk reduction and resilience from many different angles—I’ve gathered scientific evidence; I’ve tested technical solutions to various development problems; I’ve investigated the costs and benefits of different interventions. And yet none of that work involved much of a gender angle.   Then I traveled to the province of Segou in Mali last October to visit a UNDP-supported project that aims to strengthen agricultural resilience in rural communities. Agriculture is one of the sectors most vulnerable to climate change in Mali, given how dependent farming is on climatic factors. The project is testing new crops that have shorter production cycles (and hence are more resilient against factors like rainfall variability); instituting micro-infrastructures to increase water retention; and supporting women-led activities, specifically focusing on vegetable gardens and the management of multi-functional platforms (i.e. buildings that provide affordable energy services and power multiple tools that can … Read more

The Polar regions, Paris, and a piece of paper

07 Dec 2015 by Daniel Price, Climate change scientist and Founder, Pole to Paris

Dan looking over the study area in the Antarctic. This Frozen continent is under intense scientific investigation to try and establish how fast it will respond to a warming planet. Photo credits: Wolfgang Rack
Last November, I stood on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica, part of a team conducting fieldwork to improve our understanding of how the continent’s giant ice sheets flow into the ocean. This November, I will arrive in Paris after a seven-month journey on bicycle to raise awareness of the threat of climate change and the urgent need for action. “Poles” and “Paris” aren’t words you often find in the same sentence. But this year they are intricately connected. To most, the Arctic and Antarctica are impossibly distant places that are only familiar to people insofar as they’ve heard them described by David Attenborough or seen them briefly mentioned in a newspaper’s latest global warming story. What happens at the poles certainly doesn’t feel close to home. But the truth of the matter is, what happens at the poles does indeed have ramifications for our lives. The global climate system is basically a giant heat engine that uses ocean currents and weather systems to try and balance out the surplus amount of heat arriving at the equator. As we add heat to the system, we alter the manner by which this engine operates. Any number of important Earth systems are changing … Read more