ADB’s Approach to the Climate Change Challenge

Article | 26 September 2017

Asia and the Pacific are at the center of the battle for climate change. ADB is committed to supporting the shift toward a low GHG emissions and climate-resilient development path.

Asia and the Pacific is at the center of the climate change battle. Rising temperatures and sea levels are expected to have serious impacts on the people and the economy of this region in the coming decades. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is working with its members to identify solutions for addressing climate change and to implement those solutions.

ADB’s approach is presented in its new Climate Change Operational Framework 2017–2030: Enhanced Actions for Low Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate-Resilient Development. Preety Bhandari, ADB’s Director and Technical Advisor on Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management, says the Bank will be guided by the needs of its members and their commitment to global agreements on climate actions and sustainable development.

How will climate change affect Asia and the Pacific?

It is expected that temperatures in some parts of the landmass of Asia and the Pacific could increase up to between 4 to 6 degrees centigrade, unravelling quite a few of the biophysical processes including extreme weather events. And most importantly some of the temperature extremes will bring in their wake impacts on human health, impacts on crop productivity, and crop losses. These could be very significant human dimensions of climate change associated with temperature increase.

Equally important, or hazardous, could be consequences related to sea level rise. There is a significant part of the population in Asia-Pacific which is living in low-elevation coastal zones. The risk of being inundated, the risk of losing infrastructure and habitat in the coastal zones, and the very existential threat that the Pacific countries face with sea level rise is a significant impact that we should be worried about.

How could these changes impact economic activity?

There has been an assessment undertaken by ADB on the economic losses that climate change could bring and our assessment shows it could be to the tune of 10% of the gross domestic product of the region by the end of the century. So, we are talking about some very large scale impacts.

Asia-Pacific is at the center of this battle for climate change, not only in terms of impacts but also for bringing forth solutions for addressing climate change.

How is ADB responding to this challenge?

This operational framework is a clear articulation of how ADB is signaling its long-term commitment to the global agendas that were agreed in 2015.

Preety Bhandari

This operational framework is a clear articulation of how ADB is signaling its long-term commitment to the global agendas that were agreed in 2015, be it the Paris Agreement, be it the Sustainable Development Goals, or be it the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

It is showing how ADB will be responsive to these global agendas in the long term all the way up to 2030. But also responsive to the commitments our developing member countries have made to these global agendas and providing assistance in terms of financing, capacity, technology, or knowledge and how ADB could provide that in a cogent manner.

So being responsive in the long term to the global agendas, being responsive to the needs of our member countries, and more importantly providing a strategic emphasis in the way we address climate change through our investments in the coming years.

Be it an emphasis on vulnerable populations in the region, on building resilience and adaptation to climate change, or the way urban development takes place, or how we address issues related to migration, or how do we introduce high-level climate related technologies. It would provide us with a more strategic way forward in directing our investments.

What principles will guide ADB’s work in this area?

The overall objective is to enhance low greenhouse gas development and climate resilience in the Asia-Pacific region within the broad endeavor of the Paris Agreement.

The first principle relates to being responsive to the ambitions that our member countries have articulated in their nationally determined contributions, or their climate pledges under the Paris Agreement. How do we help them convert their pledges into investments? That’s the first principle.

The second relates to enhanced action on addressing greenhouse gases – so low-carbon development. In that context, we are talking about scaled up investments in mitigating climate change.

The third relates to promoting climate resilience or climate change adaptation. Looking at how our infrastructure – both hard and green infrastructure – should be climate proofed.

The fourth one relates to bringing closer the whole discourse of disaster risk management and climate change adaptation. Because many of the disasters in this region could be triggered by climate change.

Finally, the last principle is looking at climate change in the broader context of the Sustainable Development Goals and looking at harnessing co-benefits from different actions which would address different development goals but also address climate change.

How do you turn those principles into actions on the ground?

We have identified five actions also. The first is building institutions in our developing member countries and appropriate policy frameworks that induce climate action. So, to what extent can we support policy actions that will trigger climate investments.

The second relates to financing: It’s not only ADB’s own financing, but private sector financing, to what extent do we look at domestic resource mobilization in our countries, international financing, access to international climate funds.

The third relates to bringing forth knowledge solutions. To what extent can we share best practices, best available solutions from amongst countries in the region, from other regions.

The overall objective is to enhance low greenhouse gas development and climate resilience in the Asia-Pacific region.

Preety Bhandari

The role of technology is also critical – ADB is putting quite a bit of emphasis on deployment of high-level technology, and in that context how can we promote climate technologies.

And as I said before we can’t do it alone, we have to harness the knowledge of other institutions in the region or outside the region and partner organizations and networks to effectively meet this agenda.

How will such actions be financed?

In 2015, in the process toward the UN climate change conference in Paris, much before the conference in September, ADB was the first multilateral development bank to make a commitment for doubling our climate finance to $6 billion by 2020.

Of the $6 billion, $4 billion would be addressing mitigation through enhanced investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, and other mitigation opportunities. And $2 billion for adaptation in building resilience both in the agriculture and the urban sectors.

So, that was a significant commitment we have made and that commitment is from ADB’s own resources, what we can do by mobilizing the private sector, accessing bilateral funding or multilateral funding will be in addition to what we accomplish with our own resources.

But we also can’t forget the role of carbon finance and carbon markets and to what extent can we help our developing member countries establish the right kind of carbon pricing initiatives be it thought tools like domestic emissions trading systems or carbon taxes that could also be an important part of the toolbox that we deploy in the context of climate financing.