Airports: Viable Places for Green Initiatives

Bahrain-airportCan airports ever be green? This is an overwhelming concept in a carbon-driven, and carbon-intensive industry. The reality is that air travel is often the only realistic option for the movement of both people and cargo in the current lifestyle and demands encompassed with time constraints. This is especially critical for the island nation of Bahrain that is so heavily dependent on air travel in terms of food security. With over 90% of all goods: perishable and manufactured, imported into the nation, this carbon-intensive industry is not going to disappear.

Airports themselves, may only contribute 5% to the carbon emissions attributed to the aviation industry, never the less, airport infrastructure could ensure a lowering of emissions, especially nitrogen oxide levels [1]. The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) has statistical evidence of improved fuel efficiency and better CO2 performance over the past 15 years[1]. It is viable for airports to reduce the nitrogen oxide levels around airports by developing ground transportation infrastructure for transferring passengers and deploying employees across the airport terminals, ground handling of personal baggage and commercial cargo, as well as the catering services, in a more eco-friendly mode of transportation.

Scope for Green Airports

Airports are viable places for adoption of green initiatives. A significant portion of the emissions are from vehicle transportation onsite at the airport is from moving employees and passengers between terminals and aircraft carriers. Plus all the freight movement, personal baggage and inflight catering and servicing. To secure adequate food products for Bahrain, the greater part of all food produce that is available on the market (93%) is flown in on a daily basis. The dependency on aviation is long-term but the ground handling is an option for energy efficient initiatives.

There is an opportunity to move from fossil fuel vehicles to those running on clean such as hybrid, electric, bioethanol, biogas or hydrogen-fueled vehicles. As road transportation is a major contributor of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, greener, cleaner vehicles are a desirable consideration for protecting a fragile environment.

Role of Environmental Awareness

Greater awareness of renewable energy sources is necessary before developers can even start to appeal to the business sector to adopt viable alternatives of transportation energy. New airport development and expansion projects need to assess the feasibility of alternative mode of transportation which in turn will require electrical charging locations as well as hydrogen filling stations [2]. This can also be marketed to eco-friendly rental companies to avail themselves of green initiatives.

Freight and delivery corporation could also avail themselves of alternative power sources as petrol subsides are reduced over the coming years. Ultimately, sustainable energy sources will become more attractive. Together, a sustainable transportation model along with other sustainable life-cycle models will all help reduce the carbon footprint of the airport industry.

Airports are considered ideal sites for promoting electricity-powered vehicles because one has a captive audience. If the options are already determined for the clients, the clients experience the use of electric cars in a win-win situation.

Rapid Increase in Passenger Flow

During the month of November, 2016, almost 674,000 passengers passed through the Bahrain airport [3]. There was over 8,500 total aircraft movement and almost 20,000 pieces of cargo and mail in the 30 day period. (Data source: Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications). Based on the November data, the numbers could be extrapolated out for a 12-month period with over 8 million passengers per year, over 100,000 total aircraft movement and 240,000 pieces of cargo and mail.

Similar information based on the official Airport Councils International (ACI) statistics from the World Airport Traffic Reports for the 10-year period from 2005 to 2015 [3]. The reports indicate a yearly average of 7.8 million passengers with over 95,350  total aircraft movements and over 304,000 metric tons of cargo. The steady increase in usage of airport facilities [4] is driving the modernization plans for the Bahrain International Airport to be designed for an annual passenger flow of 14 million persons [5].

Heathrow Airport – An Upcoming Role Model

Heathrow Airport in London handles more than 76 million passengers each year. Heathrow is already conducting trials for electric buses and personal electric cars, as part of a sustainable model, which requires a major input for developing recharging infrastructure. Such a large airport in the heart of a metropolitan centre has the advantage of a well developed public transportation infrastructure.

Electric vehicles at Heathrow Aiport

Electric vehicles at Heathrow Aiport

Both travelers and employees use the public transport systems which allows the advanced planning in other sustainable green technology for other transportation systems. Passenger car parks as well as company car parks have charging points for electric cars. The airport strategic plan is to have all cars and vans electric rather than fossil fuel powered by 2020.

Perspectives for Bahrain

Aviation transportation is vital for Bahrain’s survival and daily operations. Therefore, a eco-friendly infrastructure is a viable option for implementing green technology in the form of onsite transportation. However, the modernization of the Bahrain International Airport has limited its eco-friendly inclusion to ground service equipment such as the transformer substations, pre-conditioned air systems and pop-up units and the 400Hz power supply system all contracted to Cavotec Middle East [5].

This is one step towards achieving the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) decision to implement a global carbon offset for the aviation industry. It would be great to see the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications reach out to other green initiatives for the modernization of the national airport.



1. Can airports be green?

2. How airports uniquely placed to boost the adoption of electric cars.

3. Airports Council International, World Airport Traffic Reports, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2020, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Traffic by Calendar Year, Official ACI Statistics.

4. Bahrain International Airport witnesses a 25% increase in passenger movement

5. New Passenger Terminal Building, Bahrain International Airport, Manama, Bahrain

Carbon Capture and Storage: Prospects in GCC

Gulf Cooperation Council countries are burgeoning economies which are highly dependent on hydrocarbons to fuel their needs for economic growth. GCC nations are fully aware of the mounting consequences of increasing levels of CO­2 on the environment, mainly attributed to soaring energy demand of domestic and industrial sector. Regional countries are undertaking concrete steps and measures to reduce their carbon footprint through the introduction of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. Among other options, Carbon Capture and Storage, popularly known as CCS, can be an attractive proposition for GCC nations.

What is CCS

Carbon capture and storage (or carbon capture and sequestration) is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide from large point sources, such as fossil fuel power plants, transporting it to a storage site, and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere, normally an underground geological formation. CCS is a potential means of mitigating the contribution of fossil fuel emissions to global warming and ocean acidification. As at September 2012, the Global CCS Institute identified 75 large-scale integrated projects in its 2012 Global Status of CCS report. 16 of these projects are in operation or in construction capturing around 36 million tonnes of CO2 per annum.

Among notable CCS projects world, In Salah project in Algeria is a fully operational onshore gas field with CO2 injection. CO2 is separated from produced gas and reinjected in the producing hydrocarbon reservoir zones. Since 2004, about 1 Mt/a of CO2 has been captured during natural gas extraction and injected into the Krechba geologic formation at a depth of 1,800m. The Krechba formation is expected to store 17Mt CO2 over the life of the project.

CCS Prospects in GCC

GCC accounts for 0.6% of the global population but ironically contributes 2.4% of the global GHG emissions per capita.  GCC countries are among the top-14 per capita emitters of carbon dioxide in the world. The GCC region is witnessing rapid economic growth and massive industrialization which has led to almost 8% growth in power consumption each year. The region is heavily dependent on hydrocarbons combustion for power generation and operation of energy-intensive industries.

There is an urgent need for carbon abatement measures for the industrial sector in Middle East nations as increasing carbon dioxide emissions will have serious repercussions for GCC and adjoining regions. Some of the potential impacts can be rise in sea level, droughts, heat waves, sandstorms, damage to ecosystem, water scarcity and loss of biodiversity. Carbon dioxide emissions reductions can be achieved from point sources such as refineries, power plants, manufacturing industries etc.

At the regional level, GCC nations have both the drivers and environmental gains to adopt the CCS technologies. Some of the GCC countries are already engaged in R&D initiatives, for example, Saudi Arabia has KACST- Technology Innovation Center on Carbon Capture and Sequestration while Saudi Aramco have their own CCS R&D program for CCS. In Qatar there is the Qatar Carbonate and Carbon Storage Research Center while Bahrain has Sitra Carbon Capture System. Recently, Masdar and ADNOC launched Middle East first Joint Venture for carbon capture usage and storage. On a multilateral level, back to 2007, King Abdullah pledged $300 million to finance a research program on the future of energy, environment and climate change. In addition, a sum of $150 million from Qatar, Kuwait and UAE has been allocated to support CCS research.

To sum up, CCS is a viable option to help GCC countries maintain their hydrocarbons-driven economies while enabling low-carbon electricity generation from existing hydrocarbons powerplants.

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Environmental Sustainability in Qatar: Perspectives

qatar-ghg-emissionsIn recent years, the concept of environmental sustainability is slowly, but steadily, getting prominence, both in the public and private sectors in Qatar. Mounting environmental pressure has led to the development of new initiatives in several state-owned and private companies. As a major fossil exporter and one of the wealthiest countries, Qatar should do its fair share in reducing domestic greenhouse gas emissions and developing strong climate adaptation plans.

Many companies are investing heavily in replacing old turbines, boilers, and furnaces, minimizing GHG and non-GHG emissions, and wastewater discharge. The new companies that were set up in last decade are adopting the best available technologies, and they are on a par of excellence with the global environmental standards. Because of national targets to minimize flaring emissions, all of the oil and gas companies have been marshaled under the national initiative by setting goals, allocating investment and monitoring the yearly changes. So far, this initiative has been remarkably successful. For example, the direct benefit of flaring reduction resulted in savings of natural gas and emissions.

The government should hasten its steps in developing a comprehensive climate policy framework addressing all sectors, with a special focus on energy-intensive industries. The industrial sector is the major contributor to country’s economy and will continue to retain this status for the next several decades. Therefore, the government and the industrial sector must prepare a comprehensive roadmap and strategic framework under the broader climate policy framework, such as “Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy”. The strategy must assess all possibilities of decarbonising the industry and set ambitious goals to minimize GHG emissions for the short and long-term.

In addition, the framework should focus on potential structural changes in the global market, technological dynamics or deployment of disruptive technologies, domestic institutional reforms, and relevant policies that can support decarbonization. The policy should foster the development and implementation of wide-ranging innovative low-carbon technologies, processes, standards, norms and legislations that enable decarbonisation of the sector by 2050. The legislative instruments should include emission caps, internalizing social and environmental costs and taxation on emissions for the industrial sector. This is also echoed in the first Natural Resource Management Strategy.

The government should press ahead with this proposition; expediting the creation of new regulations, developing a strong support system for large and small/medium sized industries and ensuring transparency and accountability. Methane is the second major source of emission from natural gas production and processing facilities. Many companies fail to measure/monitor methane emissions from their facilities. I suggest that the Ministry of Environment undertake a Methane Monitoring Initiative to measure methane emissions from extraction to delivery and also to prepare a standardization method for estimating and reporting emissions from different sources.

The Ministry must create an effective, well-functioning, transparent and less bureaucratic support mechanism for companies (medium/small scale industries or SMEs) that lack technical and financial capacity. There are several piecemeal initiatives started by different companies that are already helping in this direction. However, they are fragmented, lack coherence, monitoring, and reporting. It is important to compile all of the initiatives and develop key performance indicators and analyse the trend. So far, there is only one project accredited under the Clean Development Mechanism (Al Shaheen Oil Field Gas Recovery and Utilization Project, started in 2007). The government should exploit all possible opportunities with regard to reducing emissions and increasing economic savings. These are remarkable achievements and these companies must be recognized for their activities. Likewise, policymakers should capitalize on these efforts and raise the bar and set definitive goals and strict timelines for implementation.

Al Shaheen Oil Field Gas Recovery and Utilization Project is the sole CDM project in Qatar

Al Shaheen Oil Field Gas Recovery and Utilization Project is the sole CDM project in Qatar

According to the Resolution of the Council of Ministers No. 15 of 2011, the respective agencies must propose policies and action plans to reduce GHG emissions and set up a database within the requirements of the UNFCCC convention and Kyoto protocol. Unfortunately, there was no tangible response to this Resolution. So far, Qatar has published only one national communication. Under the initiative of Qatar Petroleum HSE, many companies started to publish their emission data in their annual sustainability report, however, some companies continue to withhold the data. Since it is a voluntary process, there is no incentive for companies to report.

It is strongly recommended that the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) and Ministry of Energy and Industry (MoEI) issue a joint decree for a mandatory GHG and non-GHG pollution monitoring and disclosure framework. The disclosure framework must include a well-designed surveillance system to ensure transparency and accountability. Additionally, the disclosure framework will be useful in documenting the trend of overall emissions and how the new policies, regulations and technological replacements are shifting the trend. As a result of documenting emission trends, one can notice the effectiveness of energy management initiatives, which provides opportunities and encourage other companies to learn from best practices. Companies that emit more than 25,000 tonnes CO2eq should quantify, verify and publish in a single-window system that can be accessed by other ministries and the public alike.

Energy Management in the Middle East

Managing and reducing energy consumption not only saves money but also helps in mitigating climate change and enhancing corporate reputation. The primary objective of energy management is to achieve and maintain optimum energy procurement and utilisation, throughout the organisation which may help in minimizing energy costs and mitigating environmental effects. Infact, energy management is widely acknowledged as the best solution for direct and immediate reduction of energy consumption.

Importance of Energy Management

Energy should be regarded as a business cost, like raw material or labour. Companies can achieve substantial reduction in energy bills by implementing simple housekeeping measures. Reduction and control of energy usage is vital for an organization as it:

  • Reduces costs: Reducing cost is the most compelling reason for saving energy. Most organisations can save up to 20% on their fuel cost by managing their energy use;
  • Reduces carbon emissions: Reducing energy consumption also reduces carbon emissions and adverse environmental effects. Reducing your organisation’s carbon footprint helps build a ‘green’ image thereby generating good business opportunities; and
  • Reduce risk: Reducing energy use helps reduce risk of energy price fluctuations and supply shortages.

Regulatory requirements aiming to reduce carbon emissions and energy use require accurate energy data collection and effective management systems. Good energy management practices are compliant with these requirements and help fulfil regulatory obligations. Businesses worldwide are showing interest in appointment of a formal/informal energy manager to coordinate energy management activities. The main task of an energy manager is to set up a system to collect, analyse and report on energy consumption and costs which may involve reading electricity meters regularly and analysis of utility bills.

Carbon emissions from energy use dominate the total greenhouse gas emissions of most organisations. Sound energy management is rapidly emerging as an integral part of carbon management which in turn helps organisations in effective overall environmental management. In addition to financial benefits, energy management has other significant advantages for an organisation such as:

  • Organisations achieve stronger market position by demonstrating ‘green’ credentials. Energy management improves competitive advantage as most consumers prefer to source from socially responsible businesses;
  • Organisations adopting energy management systems can influence supply chains by preferring suppliers who adopt environment management practices; and
  • Energy management creates a better workplace environment for employees by improving working conditions.

Energy Management in the Middle East

In recent years, energy consumption in the Middle East is rising exponentially due to rapid industrialization and high population growth rate. Infact, the level of primary energy consumption in MENA region is one of the highest worldwide.  However, the efficiency of energy production and consumption patterns in the region requires improvement. Though the per capita energy consumption in the GCC sub-region are among the world’s top list, more than 40 percent of the Arab population in rural and urban poor areas do not have adequate access to energy services.

The Middle East is making a steady change towards energy efficiency and alternative sources of energy. Several declarations have been issued in recent years emphasizing concerns and commitment of regional powers to achieve sustainable development. Energy Strategy 2030 introduced by Dubai aims to reduce energy demand and carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by the year 2030 through secure energy supply and efficient energy use while meeting environmental and sustainability objectives. Simalarly Saudi Arabia and Qatar are seriously pursuing the use of alternative energy in power generation. This is an attractive driver for businesses to adopt solutions that reduce overall energy consumption. 

Considering the rapid rise in power demand in the region, governments are now looking to diversify their energy mix from their primary energy source to a greater reliance on renewable energy. Middle East energy efficiency ranking is expected to get a major boost due to the development of large renewable energy projects in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan etc. Balanced approaches are being employed to drive feasible clean energy projects while developing the regulatory framework and adaptation of energy efficient technologies.

Many businesses in the Middle East have set dynamic strategic direction to achieve immediate reduction in energy consumption. The trend towards energy efficiency will only continue to grow to sustain this demand. With increasing environmental awareness, there is significant room for growth and leadership within the Middle East for the adoption of energy optimisation, introduction of specialised energy-saving systems and implementation of sustainable energy technologies.

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Energy Efficiency Perspectives for MENA

MENA countries are facing an increasing challenge in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector. Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia figure among the world’s top-10 per capita carbon emitters. In case of business-as-usual scenario, GHGs emissions from the energy sector will continue to rise throughout the region. According to a recent report by International Energy Agency (IEA), energy intensity demand in MENA is mainly driven by population and economic growth and reliance of heavy industries on generous energy subsidy. It is projected that primary energy demand in the region will be doubled by 2030 and the region’s share in global oil production will increase from 35% now to 44% in 2030. MENA countries together have 840 billion barrels of proven crude oil reserves (57% of world’s oil) and 80 trillion cubic meters of proven gas reserves (41% of world’s natural gas). Population growth and economic expansion have increased energy demand significantly over the past decade; between 2000 and 2011, domestic consumption almost doubled in Oman and tripled in Qatar. 

Growth in energy demand is driven across the end-use sectors: in the residential sector through increased use of air conditioning and cooling units; in the transportation sector through rising vehicle ownership; and in the industrial sector from greater industrial activity, hydrocarbon production and refining, and energy-intensive desalination plants. One of the central reasons for increased GHG emissions from MENA energy sector is the low efficiency of energy resource consumption. The energy intensity (energy use per unit of GDP) is very high which drives up atmospheric GHG emissions. However it is important to highlight the difference among MENA countries regarding carbon intensity levels where GCC nations are rank higher compared to energy-importing MENA nations like Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon etc. All these facts stress the urgent need to increase energy efficiency in order to precipitate decline in energy intensity and thus reduce GHG emissions.

There is a wide array of measures on both supply side and demand side, to boost MENA energy efficiency levels by promoting stringent environmental, energy saving policies to combat climate change.  Formal energy efficiency programs and voluntary measures combined will help the region to maintain its economic strength. Energy conservation programs in residential, commercial and industrial sectors can significantly reduce carbon emissions and augment energy supply in the MENA region. A robust regulatory and institutionalized framework can help to achieve a reduction in GHG emissions through a bundle of non-market based and market-based instruments.

Also known as command and control instruments (CAC), these regulations focus on preventing environmental externalities which is achieved through auditing and monitoring/inspection program and performance-oriented regulations to limit air pollutants. Here are some examples of command and control instruments:

  • Awareness and information campaigns
  • Labeling & training programs to engage end-users to reduce their emissions voluntarily.
  • Information-based programs to spread awareness and encourage efficient consumption patterns.
  • Establishing minimum energy performance standards for appliances, equipment and vehicles as a complement to labelling methods.
  • Building codes and insulation to save the energy loss.
  • Smart reductions such as smart meters, energy audit, energy saving plans etc.
  • Phasing out of inefficient lighting like incandescent bulbs and CFLs.

Market-based instruments are defined as a policy instrument that use market, price to provide incentives for polluters to reduce or eliminate their emissions (negative environmental externality). Building regional cap, carbon trading platform and grants/rebates/tax exemption/rewards to encourage efficiency measures are good examples of market-based incentive program that may be implemented in the Middle East.


On account of its huge fossil fuel reserves, MENA has a great role to play in the international efforts towards green economy and sustainable development. Recently, the GCC has embarked on ambitious policies and projects across different sectors which may, explicitly or implicitly, mitigate impacts of GHG on their economies and development priorities. 

Adoption of energy efficiency-based energy policies in commercial, industrial and domestic sectors is integral to climate change mitigation in the MENA region. It is imperative on MENA governments to create an environment that rewards energy-efficient choices and encourages innovation for all kinds of energy users. The Middle East electricity market is growing at a rapid pace due to higher consumption rates in the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors which underlines the need for a successful implementation strategy that can bridge the gap between the current supply and increasing demand.

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Energy Outlook for the Middle East

There are several problems confronting the world with respect to its fossil fuels-based energy supply. The first problem relates to the ever-increasing use of fast-depleting conventional sources of energy, like petroleum, coal and natural gas. The contribution of fossil fuels in global energy supplies is above 80 percent. Energy demand will certainly increase manifolds during this century due to industrial and developmental activities as burgeoning world population.

Global Trends

The concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere is rising rapidly with use of fossil fuels leading to increasing emission of carbon dioxide which is having a detrimental effect on the climate. Another important issue is the security and stability of energy supply. Most of the fossil fuel reserves are concentrated in politically unstable regions, and increasing the diversity in energy sources is important for many nations to secure a reliable and constant supply of energy.

Energy trends in emerging economies are of global environmental concern as these countries are important contributors to greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use and industrial activities. Deforestation and the emission of other greenhouse gases, such as methane and NOx, further raise the share of developing countries in total global GHGs gas emissions. Although per capita levels of greenhouse emissions from energy use are much lower in developing industrial countries, rapid population and economic growth will increase their share of total emissions. The magnitude of these problems underlines the need for improving the efficiency of energy systems and fast-paced development of the renewable energy sector in such countries.

Energy Outlook for the Middle East

Energy use in the Middle East has increased manifolds over the past few decades and will continue its rapid ascent rapidly in the future. The increase in the services that energy provides is necessary and desirable, since energy services are essential for economic growth, improved living standards, and community development applications.

The fast economic growth in the Middle East puts onus on regional powers to devise new energy solutions and establish new and innovative sustainable energy trends. The energy demand in this region will grow rapidly which will have a profound impact on the global energy market. In addition, the region has many locations with high population density, which makes public health vulnerable to the pollution caused by fossil fuels.

Due to the rising share of GHG emissions from the Middle East, it is imperative on all regional countries to promote sustainable energy to significantly reduce GHGs emissions and foster dynamic economic growth. Rising proportion of greenhouse gas emissions from the region’s energy consumption is causing ecological degradation which may further deteriorate environmental sustainability in the region and globally. The adverse impacts of economic and ecological vulnerability would have profound implications for social inclusiveness, as the burden is being unevenly distributed among the countries in the region.

Energy scenarios for the 21st century are shifting away from fossil fuels and towards renewable and sustainable sources of energy. The potential role of alternative energy technologies in transforming Middle East energy outlook and addressing climate change concerns is enormous. Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass, hydropower, and geothermal can provide sustainable energy, based on a host of readily available, indigenous resources that result in very low emissions of greenhouse gases.

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Understanding Carbon Footprint

With rising awareness of global warming and effects of emissions on the environment, corporates and individuals alike are rising to tackle environmental issues. Carbon footprinting, the first step to reduce carbon emissions, is the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product. The main reason for calculating a carbon footprint is to inform decisions on how to reduce the climate change impact of a company, service or product. Carbon footprints are measured by undertaking a greenhouse gas assessment. Once the size of a carbon footprint is known, a strategy can be devised to reduce it.

Why Carbon Footprint?

Growing public awareness about climate change and global warming has resulted in an increasing interest in ‘carbon footprinting’. The global community now recognizes the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change. The most popular methods to reduce carbon footprint include use of alternative energy, reforestation, waste reduction and energy efficiency. Population, economic output, primary energy mix and carbon intensity are the major parameters in determining the carbon footprint of a particular country.

Carbon footprint is the foremost indicator of environmental responsibility and helps to identify climate impacts and lower them cost-effectively by strategic and operative planning, constructing a climate policy, environmental reporting etc. In addition, carbon footprint promotes positive, environmentally conscious company image and can boost the marketing of an organization and its products.

Types of Carbon Footprint

There are different types of carbon footprint, e.g. for organisations, individuals, products, services, and events.  Different types of carbon footprint have different methods and boundaries. The various approaches and types of greenhouse gas assessment are discussed below.

  • Product Carbon Footprint is suited for organizations which have distinct products and services. It delivers a view of GHG emissions specific to a single product or service. This can then be scaled up to the entire organization. Product Carbon Footprint can be assessed to capture either business-to-business view (cradle-to-gate) or business-to-consumer view (cradle-to-grave).
  • Corporate Carbon Footprint is suited for organisations wishing to take an overview of the carbon footprint of the entire organization. The process starts off by identifying the business goals for the GHG inventory, setting up suitable organizational boundaries, selecting an appropriate baseline period; data collection and finally preparing plan for data quality management.
  • Value-Chain Carbon Footprint includes activities associated with the product or services of an organization over entire value chain.  This accounts for emissions arising from raw material procurement to the end of product life. Value-chain carbon footprint provides an aggregate view of all the products and services of the company.

Carbon Footprint in the Middle East

The world’s dependence on Middle East energy resources has caused the region to have some of the largest carbon footprints per capita worldwide. Oil and gas industry, electricity production, transportation, industrial heating and air-conditioning are responsible for most of the carbon emissions from the region. Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia figure among the world’s top-10 per capita carbon emitters. Infact, carbon emissions from Qatar are approximately 50 tons per capita, which is more than double the US per capita footprint of 19 tons per year. 

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The Problem of CO2-Caused Acidification

“The CO2 problem” has traditionally been understood as the fact that excessive CO2 produces global warming. But near the end of the 20th century, scientists started talking about a second CO2 problem, “ocean acidification”. Ocean acidification results from the fact that about 30 percent of our CO2 emissions have been absorbed by the ocean. This absorption keeps down the warming of the atmosphere that would otherwise be produced by these emissions. Ocean acidification involves the ocean’s pH, changes in which make the water become either more alkaline or more acidic. Tests have shown that “for more than 600,000 years the ocean had a pH of approximately 8.2.” But since the industrial revolution, the ocean’s pH has dropped by 0.1 unit. That may not sound like much, “but pH is a logarithmic scale, so the decline in fact represents a whopping 30 percent increase in acidity.” Moreover, the IPCC has said that if business as usual continues, the pH may drop down to 7.8, which “would correspond to a 150 percent increase in acidity since pre-industrial times.”

Why is acidification destructive? When carbon dioxide is combined with water, it produces carbonic acid – which is the ingredient that, besides giving soft drinks their fizz, also eats out limestone caves. Its relevance here is that it does this to animals with chalky skeletons – that is, ones that calcify – “which make up more than a third of the planet’s marine life.” Elevating the percentage of carbonic acid will make it increasingly difficult for calcifying organisms to make their skeletons – organisms such as plankton, corals, sea butterflies, molluscs, crabs, clams, mussels, oysters, and snails.

Most of us are, of course, especially interested in the ones we like to eat. More important for the cycle of life, however, are two tiny organisms, corals and plankton, which are at the base of the marine food web.


There are two basic types of plankton: phytoplankton, which are microscopic plants, and zooplankton, which are microscopic animals. The most basic type is phytoplankton, because they are capable of photosynthesis and are thereby the food for zooplankton (which in turn provide food for bigger animals). Besides providing about half of the biosphere’s oxygen, phytoplankton also account for about half of the total organic matter on Earth, so they provide “the basic currency for everything going on in the ocean.” We do not, of course, feast directly on phytoplankton, but they “ultimately support all of our fishes.”

Therefore, a reduction in the ocean’s phytoplankton is extremely serious: A major study in 2010 has already indicated that there has been an astounding reduction: 40 percent since the 1950s. “A 40 percent decline,” said Worm (one of the study’s coauthors), “would represent a massive change to the global biosphere.” Indeed, he said, he could not think of a biological change that would be bigger. Referring to this 2010 study, Joe Romm said: “Scientists may have found the most devastating impact yet of human-caused global warming.” Explaining the importance of the study, its lead author, Daniel Boyce, said that “a decline of phytoplankton affects everything up the food chain.”

In 2013, additional studies suggested that phytoplankton are very sensitive to warmer water. In one study, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on the normal spring surge of phytoplankton, which provides food for various types of fish when they are producing offspring. In the spring of 2013, the North Atlantic’s water temperatures were “among the warmest on record” and the springtime plankton blooms of northern New England were well below normal, “leading to the lowest levels ever seen for the tiny organisms.”


Corals form coral reefs, which have been called the “rainforests of the sea,” because they play host to much of the oceans’ life. Already threatened by bleaching, which is caused by global warming, they are now further threatened by global warming’s evil twin. Corals form their skeletons by means of calcium carbonate in the sea water. As the water becomes more acidic, it is harder for the corals to calcify. In the past 30 years, calcification rates of corals on the Great Barrier Reef have declined by 40 percent. “There’s not much debate,” said Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland, “about how [the decline] happens: put more CO2 into the air above and it dissolves into the oceans.“

This decline has not only occurred off Australia. A 2013 study of coral reefs in the Caribbean found that many of them “have either stopped growing or are on the threshold of starting to erode,” due to difficulty in accumulating sufficient calcium carbonate. The amount of new carbonate being added to the reefs was found to be far below historical rates, in some cases 70 percent lower. And yet the accumulation of carbonate is necessary for the reef to grow vertically, which is essential, given the rising sea level; coral reefs need to be close enough to the surface for sunlight to reach them. The leader of the study said: “Our estimates of current rates of reef growth in the Caribbean are extremely alarming.”

A World without Seafood

Acidification, which threatens both phytoplankton and corals, has speeded up. Professor Timothy Wootten of the University of Chicago reported in 2008 that the pH level was “going down 10 to 20 times faster than the previous models predicted.” The more it goes down, the more difficult it will be for organisms such as corals and phytoplankton to calcify. CO2 in the atmosphere is now at about 400 parts per million. If it reaches roughly 500 ppm, according to Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, “you put calcification out of business in the oceans.”

If and when this occurs, phytoplankton and corals will die, and their death will mean that crabs, clams, oysters, and scallops will disappear. And they are already disappearing, faster every year. In the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, the waters have become so acidic that the once-thriving shellfish industry there is on life support.” In 2014, scallop growers in a location near Vancouver, B.C., reported that 10 million scallops over the past two years had died, with the mortality rate hitting between 95 to 100 percent.

The disappearance of the phytoplankton will also lead to the death of sardines, which are just above them in the food chain. And “the sardine population from California to Canada is vanishing,” resulting in starving sea lion and seal pups, and brown pelicans are showing signs of starvation, not raising any chicks in the past four years. Eventually, the disappearance of phytoplankton and corals will mean that all fish will go, as emphasized by a film subtitled Imagine a World without Fish. “Continued rise in the acidity of the oceans,” the script forewarns, “will cause most of the world’s fisheries to experience a total bottom-up collapse.”

A world without fish and other kinds of seafood is hard to imagine. It would be even harder for the planet’s people to live without seafood: Besides being the world’s largest source of protein, with over 2.6 billion people depending on it as their primary source of protein, the ocean also serves as the primary source of food for 3.5 billion people.47 How would we survive if three and a half-billion people can no longer rely upon what has always been their primary source of food? “Global warming is incredibly serious,” said Hoegh-Guldberg, “but ocean acidification could be even more so.”


Nevertheless, although the world’s governments have been warned about acidification for many years, already in 2010 the oceans were “acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred.” CO2-caused climate changes have already made the planet’s food shortage worse. Over the next three decades, climate changes will make it still worse. These shortages will be further exacerbated by the reduction of seafood because of CO2-caused ocean acidification.

Note: This excerpt has been published from Prof. David Griffin's book Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the CO2 Crisis which is available at this link.

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Connected Vehicles – Enabling Green Transport

Connected vehicles technology is a wireless-based technology which enables vehicles (light as well as heavy) to instantly communicate with each other, through an onboard installed device that receives warning signals ahead of time about road closures, pile-ups and other potential hazards related to weather conditions. Connected vehicle aims to enable safe, inter-operable networked wireless communications among vehicles, the infrastructure, and passengers’ personal communications devices.

The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) defines this revolutionary technology as achieving “cleaner air through smarter transportation.” DOT, in coordination with major automakers and other public and private sector innovators, has been working to advance vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications technology to help prevent traffic crashes before they happen. 

The network captures real-time data from equipment located on-board vehicles (automobiles, trucks, and buses) and within the infrastructure. The data are transmitted wirelessly and are used by transportation managers in a wide range of dynamic, multi-modal applications to manage the transportation system for optimum performance.

Multiple Advantages

An important role of this system is to mitigate environmental impacts of using roads and highways as it generate as well as capture environmentally relevant real-time transportation data and use this data to create actionable information to support and facilitate "green" transportation choices. The system focuses on improving air quality, reducing GHG emissions and decreasing fuel consumption. Connected vehicles technology is a good tool to mitigate climate change and achieve emissions reduction targets.

Through connected vehicles, drivers will have advance information about traffic congestion etc which will enable people to reschedule, postpone, cancel or carpool their trip. Informed travelers may decide to avoid congested routes, take alternate routes, public transit, or reschedule their trip — all of which can make their trip more fuel-efficient and eco-friendly.

People can also shift to public transportation which will result in fewer GHG emissions caused by significant reduction in fuel consumption and less traffic congestion thus enhancing the air quality. The traffic agency can also introduce a fine “pricing policy” in heavy traffic areas. Connected vehicles technologies promote eco-driving by advising drivers to minimize fuel consumption or directly control engine brakes without requiring the driver’s intervention.

Potential in the Middle East

Connected vehicles have the potential to solve transportation woes and ease traffic mobility in major Middle East cities like Jeddah, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai which are plagued by heavy traffic volumes. Moreover, deployment of this technology will enable people to take a real-time situation decision and maintain sustainable traffic practices. In addition, connected vehicles will be a handy and efficient tool to mitigate environmental impacts of the rapidly growing transport sector. Moreover, connected vehicles, ranging from cars to trucks can relay important safety and mobility information to one another which may help in saving lives, preventing injuries and easing traffic congestion.

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Climate Change and Public Health

Anthropogenic climatic change is adversely affecting our health which is becoming more severe with each passing year. As per conservative estimates, climate change causes more than 150,000 additional deaths per year. Climate change is threatening public health in general. The population of developing countries, arid regions, coastal areas, mountains and Polar regions are the most exposed to experiencing negative health effects associated with climate change. Children and elderly, especially in poor countries, are the most vulnerable groups.

Heat Wave

Researches confirm that the average temperature will increase in the Middle East up to 2°C by 2050; therefore, the frequency of heat waves will rise. Rising summer temperatures will increase morbidity and mortality caused by cardiovascular diseases and respiratory diseases. For example, more than 70,000 additional deaths were recorded during the heat wave that affected Europe in the summer of 2003. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to intense heat is linked with fainting, heatstroke, heat exhaustion, and kidney stones.

Greenhouse gases affects the ozone layer causing ozone thinning and decreasing in absorption of harmful rays, which means increasing the concentration of UV rays reaching Earth, and thus an increased risk of skin diseases, skin damage, sun burns and skin cancer.

Natural Disasters and Changing Rainfall Patterns

Rising sea levels will result in relocation of residents of coastal areas which will in turn lead to an increase in the risk of health and psychological disorders. Climate change affects the basis of health, namely adequate water and food resources; Water scarcity and quality deterioration affects health and hygiene negatively, since both will increase the risk of diseases, especially diarrhea, besides, water scarcity leads to serious health consequences such as drought and famine. Researches indicate that water scarcity will cause a 50% decrease in the basic food production in African countries by 2020, which in turn will increase the prevalence of malnutrition.

Hurricanes, floods and wildfires cause pollution of freshwater sources and increase the risk of water-borne diseases outbreak, as they create conditions favorable to insect vectors, such as mosquitoes and flies, additionally, environmental disaster are known to disturb one basic pillar of health ,namely :adequate shelter, the destruction of homes and exposure of people to infectious diseases, such as cholera and dysentery to name two, in addition to placing pressures on social and economic systems that sustain health, which can contribute to poverty and conflict.

Vector-borne Diseases

Disease control is vital for both the health and economic growth of developing countries. Climate change hinders the of elimination of transmission disease, by favoring severe thermo-allergic reactions and deadly disease vectors such as mosquitoes, ticks, flies, rodents, snails as well as the shifting in the geographic distribution of these disease vectors. Many dangerous infectious diseases are sensitive to temperature, humidity and rainfall, namely cholera.

Examples of deadly diseases favored by changing of climate, includes malaria and dengue. Climate change affects the geographical distribution and intensity of malaria transmission by favoring its vector "Anopheles" misquotes. The incubation period of the malaria parasite is 26 days at 25 °C, but it is reduced to 13 days at 26 °C. Observations show an increase of malaria transmission in Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Likewise, heavy rainfall and high temperatures leads to an increase in the transmission of dengue fever. By 2080, an estimated 2.5 billion more people will be at risk of contracting dengue fever worldwide.

Air Pollution

The changing climate is affecting the basic requirements for maintaining health — including clean air. Changing wind patterns contributes to transfer of dust, pollen, bacteria, mold, allergens cause's respiratory infections and airborne diseases. Intense heat is expected to increase this burden due to the continued rising in temperature. Moreover, rising temperatures and increasing in ground-level ozone is intensifying the rate and severity of asthma attacks, and causes irritation of the eyes and nose, cough, bronchitis and respiratory infections. In 1998 a scientific study conducted in Riyadh concluded that the dust sandstorms are a major source of respiratory diseases.

Response and Adaptation

The contribution of Arab countries to climate change mitigation is minimal; hence Arab world is facing its significant impacts, especially health threats consequences. Therefore, Middle East nations should take adaptation measures to reduce the health consequences associated with climate change and need to adopt an integrated approach to minimize its devastating effects. Some of the plausible solutions are as follows:

  • Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by switching to renewable energy, increasing energy efficiency, adoption of green building, trees planting, biodiversity protection and integrated sustainable management of land, water and waste.
  • Reduction in vehicles usage by promoting public transportation, cycling and walking. These actions are needed to reduce the emission of carbon, and to bring many health benefits, such as reducing air pollution.
  • Preparing a resilience plan and risk mapping showing vulnerable areas such as arid lands, and crowded cities.
  • Research to assess climate change impact on health in the Arab world.
  • Capacity building and development of health systems and their adaptation to respond to climate change.
  • Increasing public awareness about climate change threats to human health.
  • Facilitating access to information and knowledge and experience exchanging about the disease and the effects of climate change.


Arabic References

  1. Nuwayhid , faith , Joseph Raine , Rima Habib . " Lethal diseases in a changing environment . " Arab Forum for Environment & Development , Apr. 2010. Web. 10 May 2014
  2. Health: fears of the impact of climate change on neglected tropical diseases . " Humanitarian news company , 2012.

English References

  1. Based on data from the United Kingdom Government Met Office. HadCRUT3 annual time series, Hadley Research Centre, 2008.
  2. Robine JM et al. Death toll exceeded 70,000 in Europe during the summer of2003. Les Comptes Rendus / Série Biologies, 2008, 331:171-78.
  3. Arnell NW. Climate change and global water resources: SRES emissions and socio-economic scenarios. Global Environmental Change – Human and Policy Dimensions, 2004, 14:31-52.
  4. Climate change 2007. Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Geneva, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007 (Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
  5. Zhou XN et al. Potential impact of climate change on schistosomiasis transmission in China. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2008, 78:188-194.
  6. Hales S et al. Potential effect of population and climate changes on global distribution of dengue fever: an empirical model. The Lancet, 2002, 360:830-834.
  7. Global health risks: mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. World Health Organization, Geneva, 2009
  9. World Health Organization, Dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever.
  10. Maine CDC, Lyme Disease Surveillance Report – Maine 2008,
  11. Supinda Bunyavanich et al., "The Impact of Climate Change on Child Health," Ambulatory Pediatrics 3 (2003): 44-52.
  12. Center for Health and the Global Environment, Climate Change and Health in New Mexico, Harvard Medical School 2009.
  13. Jonathan A. Patz, "Impact of regional climate change on human health," Nature 438 (2005): 310-317.
  14. R.S. Kovats et al., "The effect of temperature on food poisoning: a time-series analysis of salmonellosis in ten European countries," Epidemiology and Infection 132 (2004): 443-453.
  15. David Wood, "Effect of Child and Family Poverty on Child Health in the United States," Pediatrics 112 (2003): 707-711.
  16. Paul R. Epstein, "Climate change and Human Health," New England Journal of Preventative Medicine 353 (2005): 1433-1436.


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Jordan’s Journey Towards Climate Action

Jordan_ClimateChangeJordan has the distinction of being the third Arab country to submit its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) prior to Paris COP21, in addition to being the first Arab country to address climate change and its implications on vital sectors through a national policy (2013 – 2020). Moreover, Jordan is taking serious steps to mainstream climate change into development policies and strategies starting with the National Women Strategy (2012) and the National Poverty Reduction strategy (2013), the Jordan Vision 2025 which is considered to be the overall developmental blueprint for the country (2015) to the recently launched National Water Strategy (2016 – 2025). On another front, Jordan is preparing a National Green Growth Strategy (NGGS) through the Ministry of Environment and a number of sectoral action plans to drive its green economy agenda.

Jordan's INDCs Highlights

Due to it participatory and bottom-up approach, Jordan's process of preparing its INDCs was perceived as a good case study by the GIZ/UNDP international partnership on Mitigation and MRV . While the process started by soliciting technical input and conducting national consultations, this consequently led to a state of creating wide political support. The INDCs process was the first climate change process in Jordan that included a national target for reducing GHG emissions, an objective that was considered out of reach only a few months before. An inter-Ministerial breakthrough was accomplished during the process by bringing together four Ministers and five from Secretary General level to the INDCs validation meeting.

Within its INDCs, Jordan commits to 14% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to "business as usual" (BAU) projected emissions, 12.5% of which is conditional upon availability of finance and enhanced support. The two targets will be achieved based on implementing at least 70+ projects (43 sectoral projects resulted from the mitigation scenario assessment articulated in the 2014 (TNC) Report to UNFCCC and another around 27+ sectoral priority projects proposed concurrently or newly planned and not listed in the TNC Report, i.e., proposed after the development of the TNC. USD 5,700,000,000  is the total financing needs from which Government has already secured USD 542,750,000 to meet the unconditional target, which means the Country is in need of USD 5,157,250,000 to fulfill its conditional target.

Sectors covered within the INDCs include: energy (including transport), waste, industrial processes, agriculture and land-use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) and solvents. Thus, a large share of the measures will be implemented through sectoral strategies under the responsibility of the sector’s ministries (energy, water, agriculture, health, and others). The National Committee on Climate Change is mandated to monitor the progress in the implementation of the Climate Change Policy on the national level and thus the INDC.

Climate Governance Framework

For Jordan to continue as one of the climate leaders in the region, not only in developing policies and setting targets, but also in realizing them; climate change mitigation and adaptation needs to become everybody's business. Mobilization of resources and finance is closely linked to the mobilization of actors. The ability of various stakeholders and sectors to relate to the issues and impacts of climate change is crucial and forms a high priority. Such mobilization would be orchestrated by the Ministry of Environment but performed by several Ministries, Civil Society Organizations and other partners.

An efficient and effective governance framework should be put in place to allow for more productive and measurable interaction amongst various stakeholders and across key sectors. Linkages with the existing national and institutional platforms within targeted sectors are necessary to optimize efforts and reduce redundancy. This may include the green economy steering committee and technical groups, other committees related to the Rio conventions etc.

Jordan can utilize this opportunity to trigger non-state actors to get organized and thus, to have stronger impact on climate action. The Paris climate process is considered a successful example of global environmental governance. It is time this is cascaded and localized in Jordan on a solid base of transparency, accountability and representation.

Private Sector Perspective

Private sector and climate change enjoy a multi-dimensional relationship that needs to be well understood by policy-makers and business leaders. Type, size, location, environmental performance as well as socioeconomic impact of companies are all factors to be considered when mobilizing climate action.

The Ministry of Environment (MoEnv) – as the national climate change focal point – may bear the responsibility of compiling information about the Jordanian private sector players. In consultation with the National Climate Change Committee and sector-specific business associations, businesses should be classified according to their climate action priority and urgency. Active businesses associations should proactively engage in the process by organizing themselves through the formation of a climate coalition or network that includes representatives from key sectors impacting and impacted by climate change (i.e. energy (renewable energy, energy efficiency, transport, power generation), industry, water, tourism, agriculture etc).

Considering the strong momentum in the energy sector from local and international companies, below are some of the private sector needs when it comes to climate action:

  • Clear Market Mechanism and coherent legislative measures according to national preferences to trigger and incentivize low-carbon investment.
  • Assessments of resilience to climate risks and call for new financial instruments to stimulate alternative energy and efficiency projects as well as green bonds.
  • Clear and consistent policies and robust monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) — that will complement business efforts to stimulate innovation as well as collaborative actions across value chains.
  • Transparency and disclosure regarding financial investments and policies in relation to all energy-related activities — including fossil-based and alternative. 
  • Develop and scale up alternative and renewable energy sources, promote energy efficiency, end deforestation and accelerate other low-carbon options and technologies such as ICT.
  • Hastening the shift to a low-carbon economy in an economically sustainable manner will generate growth and jobs in both the developing and developed world.

While the main Paris outcomes attraction point to businesses might be financing; nevertheless, to the majority of leading companies the policy advocacy, and enhanced transparency and accountability are important enablers for increased competitiveness. While the MoEnv is currently engaging the industrial chambers, it should direct more effort to bring on board other associations like EDAMA, Farmers Unions, Green Building Council, Int@j, chambers of commerce and investors association. Other cross-cutting and supporting sectors such as ICT and consulting services may also be included in the process.

Upon organizing the private sector engagement platforms, the MoEnv can facilitate the following activities with support from international partners and agencies:

  • Prepare a climate finance strategy for Jordan with a pipeline of feasible private sector projects.
  • Develop – through a joint public-private effort – a short and medium-term capacity building and technical assistance plan for Jordanian businesses from all sectors related to climate change and green growth covering mitigation and adaptation needs.
  • Map innovation and technology development and transfer needs on sector and sub-sector levels to guide discussions and potential partnerships for achieving climate mitigation and adaptation. 
  • Integrate private sector needs and priorities within various multi-lateral and bi-lateral cooperation strategies and plans.
  • Enhance linkages between businesses and business associations (from key sectors) and the climate experts to facilitate exchange of experience and deployment of solutions.
  • Enhance linkages between businesses, municipalities and NGOs/CBOs to support climate change priorities on community level.

While the Paris Climate Deal carries tremendous opportunities for businesses in the form of financing, technology development and transfer as well as capacity building. It also opens wide doors for climate leadership and enhanced policy dialogue.

NGOs Perspective

NGOs can play multiple roles within the climate action and environmental domain. They could act as agenda setters, lobbyists, domain experts, implementation partners and enforcers. While growing in number and scope with each passing year, environmental NGOs in Jordan are struggling to become a model in civil society participation, collaborative governance and social impact. Those non-for-profits are challenged to not only be the watchdogs and outreach arms but also act as community organizers and change agents that would lead the transformation to green economy. On another front, many of the CBOs are acting on environmental challenges in their neighborhoods and demonstrating strongly the need for good governance and organized advocacy and implementation.

Visionary NGOs are also potential connectors within the climate governance frameworks. They should proactively seek to organize themselves through formation of networks and/or coalitions in order strengthen their position and role towards various environmental issues and also enable them to defend their interests through proper platforms.  NGOs are leading environmental activism and policy advocacy around the globe. Jordan has the track record of several success stories in environmental protection triggered by civil society movement and action. Climate change forms a new complex topic that requires innovative and collective action across a number of sectors.

Role of Media

Despite being a global phenomenon, climate change coverage seems to be stronger outside the Arab region. Quality and timely engagement of media as well as credible investigation of issues are crucial for enhanced public awareness and access to information. Going beyond reporting events towards monitoring of progress and celebrating achievements is a priority to support climate action. Jordan has what it takes to lead the way in increasing the Arabic media content on climate change.

Through stronger networking and targeted capacity building activities, journalists and bloggers would benefit from exposure to issues raised and explained by experts and activists. Media should be part of every implementation step not only to cover an event but more importantly as a trigger for public attention around a credible fact. The National Committee should consider institutionalizing the communication with media and ensuring that media representatives are carefully selected to be part of the process.

Parting Shot

At the operational level, recent developments make Jordan's progress in implementing renewable energy power generation projects as impressive. Sustaining such momentum in the low-carbon domain and pursuing new opportunities based on the Paris Climate Agreement is becoming a strategic choice for Jordan. Thus, public and private sectors, civil society organizations as well as research and academia need to be part of the process and contribute to boosting climate action. Understanding the opportunities open for different players within different sectors is essential to move the exceptional policy work into implementation.

Note: The first part of the article can be read at this link


Disclaimer: Some of the information contained in this article has been based on content developed by the writer during an assignment with GIZ Jordan on the comparative analysis of Jordan’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that was conducted in February 2016 in partnership with the Ministry of Environment

Paris Agreement: Role of Effective Climate Governance Framework

climate-governanceIt has been a while since 195 countries agreed to the Paris Agreement resulting from the UNFCCC COP21. In a few weeks, countries are expected to adopt the Agreement which will be open for signature until April 2017. While many consider that history was made as industrialized and developing countries jointly agreed on the same climate policy framework for the first time ever; others alert that the Paris Agreement is only as good as its implementation plans and review mechanisms. Nevertheless, the Paris Agreement and the process around it demonstrate an exemplary model for global governance and policy advocacy. The question now is whether such international governance breakthrough could trickle down to the national and local levels across the globe. Countries and regions are challenged to move forward with the implementation leveraging the high momentum and mobilizing the diverse resources available in the market.

Paris Climate Deal: A Bottom-up Approach

The Paris Agreement encourages a bottom-up pledge and review approach through Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). National climate action targets are recognized by the agreement but are not legally binding. Countries have a legally binding obligation to put together domestic targets and prepare policies to achieve these; but the targets themselves are in a “public registry” separate from the Agreement.

NDCs represent a tremendous opportunity to link climate change and development with a view to pursuing sustainable climate-resilient and low-carbon development pathways. The Post-Paris process is not about reinventing the wheel, but about reinforcing existing efforts, mainstreaming the NDC process and about incentivizing additional action. The NDCs build on already existing climate change policies and measures and one of the main challenges is the integration and anchoring of the NDCs into sectoral programmes (policy coherence) and future strategies (i.e. Green Growth Strategies). Until February 2016, a total of 161 INDCs representing 188 countries were submitted to the UNFCCC covering around 98.7 % of global emissions.

Review Mechanism

The Paris Agreement established a periodic process for the submission of information on all Parties’ efforts to tackle climate change, according to guidance to be adopted by the COP serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement. The review of Parties’ action will take place at the individual level and at the aggregate level. Implementation of the Agreement will be assisted by an expert-based, facilitative compliance mechanism. Therefore, not only does the Paris Agreement provide an obligation for all to make efforts to reduce their emissions, it also sets the basis for a common process to review action, and enhance it when needed. The details of these review and compliance processes, however, remain to be determined by the body entrusted to prepare for the entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

Accountability and Transparency

For governments, accountability on NDCs would be established through the UNFCCC and associated mechanisms. For businesses, accountability is rather scattered, yet no less powerful. Companies should expect to be held accountable not only to the government authorities in their host countries, but by civil society organizations; and increasingly aware customers, employees and investors. The Agreement also subjects the implementation of developed Parties’ obligations concerning the provision of finance to a review process for the first time.

One of the most important conceptual changes made in the Paris agreement is the shift from blaming one another for failure to comply with a legal obligation, to trying to outdo one another in addressing a shared challenge. The transparency mechanism supports this shift by allowing journalists, activists, scientists, concerned citizens, and eco-businesses to: engage in debates, publicize successes and failures, solicit help and advice, and offer support to other countries.

Climate Finance

Finance lies at the heart of the new agreement, with its own objective, and commitments to provide scaled up financial resources and capacity building to support country-driven strategies.  Paris is already being heralded by private investors as a game-changer in terms of mobilizing low-carbon investment. Their role and that of carbon pricing will be vital in funding national projects and programmes.  The Agreement established two forms of carbon trading; the detailed rules for these will have to be spelled out over the next five years.

It is worth mentioning the global climate finance has increased by 18% in 2014 mounting up to $391 billion. Of that, $9 billion was invested in the MENA region with around 44% ($2 billion) utilized by the private sector. While renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainable transport consumed the majority of mitigation finance, water and wastewater management took over the bulk of adaptation finance.

Examples of climate financing funds include: The Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund, Clean Technology Fund, GEF, NAMA facility as well as several bilateral funds. It is, moreover, anticipated that most of the climate investment would come from the private sector. National fund in Jordan include the Jordan Renewable Energy and Energy efficiency Fund under the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources as well as a number of green financing instruments implemented by commercial banks and MFIs.   

Role of Non-State Actors

Non-state actors include mainly Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), cities and regions, as well as companies. The Paris Agreement is seen as a major turning point when it comes to the emphasizing the role and leadership of non-state actors, especially the private sector, side by side with governments. It calls upon ‘non-Party’ stakeholders to scale up their efforts and to demonstrate them via the UNFCCC website, and it also recognizes that tools such as domestic policies and carbon trading are important. Already 11,000 commitments from 4,000 companies and local authorities have been registered on the UNFCCC website, and that number is expected to grow in the coming years.

The Agreement contains clear messages to business community to join the climate action and implement short and long term projects to reduce their emissions. Climate leadership has a cascaded impact throughout the value chain: as emissions are reduced, money is saved, stakeholders are engaged and business reputation is enhanced.


Disclaimer: Some of the information contained in this article has been based on content developed by the writer during an assignment with GIZ Jordan on the comparative analysis of Jordan’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) that was conducted in February 2016 in partnership with the Ministry of Environment