Georgia’s PM at UN Climate Summit: Time for action is now

Georgia would strive to pursue an object to become a carbon neutral country by 2050, PM said., 23 Sep 2014 - 23:36, Tbilisi,Georgia

"The time for action is now, before climate change creates widespread and unpredictable change around the world and jeopardizes the lives of millions of people.”

This poignant message is what Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili said to participants of the United Nations Climate Summit in New York.

"No country is immune to climate change. Climate change poses a direct threat to our security. Climate change's adverse impact on our ecosystem and economy motivates Georgia's commitment to sustainable development,” PM Garibashvili said.

He believed climate change was leading to increased warming in Georgia and contributed to a reduction of water supply in important trans-boundary basins, extreme weather events and climate-related hazards.

The Georgian leader said Georgia’s "complex mountainous topography” meant the country was prone to natural hazards including floods, landslides and mudflows. And with rising sea levels, storms and coastal erosion had intensified, which resulted in the destruction of coastline and infrastructure.

"Therefore, I fully share all concerns expressed by distinguished delegates and subscribe to the joint call to effectively address the existing challenges. I urge that a new agreement should strengthen the continued efforts of all parties to help the most vulnerable countries in adapting to climate change and contribute to achieving climate-resilient sustainable development,” he said.

He believed the new agreement should be built upon the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage to ensure this issue was given enough attention.

In his speech, the leader underlined Georgia was committed to progressive action on mitigating climate change.

"The Government of Georgia also reiterates its readiness to formulate an ambitious Intended Nationally Determined Contribution ahead of the 2015 Conference of the Parties in Paris,” PM Garibashvili said.

He said Georgia had already taken action to reduce the effects of climate change, which included the preparation of the Low Emission Development Strategy together with the US Government. This would provide an integrated comprehensive pathway for long-term, sustainable development and help to meet international climate change commitments, he said.

At the same time, Georgia continued to work on the preparation on National Appropriate Mitigation Actions.

"Georgia is proud to have achieved the first match in the UNFCCC NAMA registry, and will now be supported by Austria in the preparation of a NAMA in the forestry sector,” PM Garibashvili stated.

"The Government of Georgia adopted a new National Forest Policy last year to help this process. We are also planning a NAMA together with the German Government to support energy efficiency initiatives, especially in public buildings,” Prime Minister added.

Georgia, due to its large hydropower potential, was using renewable energy to provide more than 80 percent of its electricity. At the same time, the Government’s ambition was for Georgia to be "a hydropower giant”.

"We will not only provide our own country with hydropower but become a major clean power supplier in the region. Factoring in our extensive tree coverage, Georgia will do its utmost to remove carbon from the atmosphere and reduce the amount of carbon it and our neighbours produce,” PM Garibashvili stated.

He said the role of cities were very important in Georgia. In this regard, supported by the central government, eight cities across the country representing more than half the population had joined the "Covenant of Mayors" EU program, that saw them committed to reducing emissions by 20 percent until 2020.

Garibashvili believed that through these activities - developing renewable energy resources, promoting energy efficiency, proper management of forests and supporting local climate action – Georgia would strive to become a carbon neutral country by 2050.

"The Government of Georgia is fully ready to contribute to international efforts in countering the existing threats related to climate change. I do believe that strong action by the international community is the most feasible instrument to reduce potential threats to human well-being and security,” the PM said at the end of his speech.

Meanwhile toady, at the larger climate conference, more than 20 governments and 30 organisations and companies announced they would join the newly launched Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture, which aimed to enable 500 million farmers worldwide to practice climate-smart agriculture.

With demand for food set to increase 60 percent by 2050, world leaders, major corporations and civil society at the United Nations Climate Summit pledged their commitment to transform agricultural practices by increasing productivity while reducing carbon emissions.

"I am glad to see action that will increase agricultural productivity, build resilience for farmers and reduce carbon emissions,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as he opened the meeting.

"These efforts will improve food and nutrition security for billions of people,” he believed.

According to the UN, nine billion people are expected to be living on the planet in 25 years and food production will need to spike in order to feed them.

The countries that joined the Climate Summit today represent millions of farmers, a quarter of the world cereal production, 43 million undernourished people and 16 percent of total agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.