GCC’s Participation at MENA Climate Week 2023 Sets the Stage for Climate Solutions Ahead of COP28
MENA Climate Week 2023, hosted by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh from October 8th to 12th, has drawn to a close, marking a pivotal moment in the global climate agenda. This five-day gathering brought together experts, policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders from various sectors to discuss and collaborate on pressing climate challenges.
The Road to COP28: One of the most prominent features of this year’s event was the focus on the first global Stocktake, set to conclude at COP28 in the UAE in December. This Stocktake offers a unique opportunity to assess progress across all areas of the Paris Agreement.
A Holistic Approach: MENA Climate Week 2023 and the various Regional Climate Weeks have consistently provided platforms for stakeholders to exchange insights on climate solutions. During this event, the discussions were structured around four major tracks:
- Energy Systems and Industry
- Cities, Urban and Rural Settlements, Infrastructure, and Transport
- Land, Ocean, Food, and Water
- Societies, Health, Livelihoods, and Economies
These tracks were designed to provide region-focused contributions aimed at informing the global Stocktake process.
Global Carbon Council (GCC) played a significant role in the MENA Climate Week 2023, contributing expertise in multiple sessions where GCC experts served as panelists. Here are key insights from these sessions:
- Consultation on Art. 6.4: Methodologies for Emission Reductions and Removals in the MENA Region
The MENA region’s unique advantage lies in its extensive knowledge of sub-surface storage and material extraction/injection, making it an ideal location for innovative GHG removal projects.
Co-locating renewable energy technologies with removal projects, such as Direct Air Capture Systems (DACS) and Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), presents promising region-specific advantages.
GCC is leading the way by developing the first integrated methodology on carbon capture and storage (CCS) for the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM), including guidance on storage space selection, management, and closure to quantify credits and channelize carbon finance.
GCC is also finalizing guidance on assessing the environmental and social risks associated with CCS projects.
Capacity building for complex removal projects, including verifier training, has been identified as a top priority.
In discussions about strategies to address net reversals, the focus has been on robust storage space selection and continuous monitoring.
The rich knowledge pool around removal technologies, especially DACS and BECCS, has been recognized as a valuable resource for action to meet the Paris Agreement goals.
- Harnessing Voluntary Carbon Markets: Role of Government and Financial Sector
A critical session, titled “Harnessing Voluntary Carbon Markets: Role of Government and Financial Sector,” explored options for addressing climate change through collaboration between government bodies and the financial sector and developing regulations for the financial integrity of voluntary carbon markets.
The discussion, moderated by Catiana Garcia-Kilroy, Lead Financial Sector Specialist at the World Bank, featured invited experts who shared invaluable insights.
Key takeaways from this session were the urgent need for a comprehensive financial integrity framework within VCM and the necessity for appropriate government regulations to oversee financial instruments in VCM. There is a need for transparency on the pricing of carbon, the purposes for which carbon credits are used, and the integrity of financial data governing carbon markets. If carbon credits are expected to act as a reliable commodity, the financial regulations around them are necessary.
VCM was highlighted as pivotal driver of investments in climate action and sustainable development, and green finance’s essential role in fueling these initiatives was underscored. Recognized standards such as GCC are following code of best practices such as CORSIA, ICROA, and in the future ICVCM as well, therefore a lot is being done to ensure the high quality of carbon credits. However, as the markets include players such as project owners, traders and buyers, regulations should be in place to ensure financial integrity.
It was recognized that there is a blurred line between voluntary and compliance markets and therefore independent recognized standards can play a significant role in both markets. Financial integrity is also intrinsically linked with environmental integrity and therefore transparency and integrity are foundational principles for VCM, as well as the potential for the market to be a true climate game-changer.
- The Critical Role of CCS in a ‘Net Zero’ World:
In a session titled “The Critical Role of CCS in a ‘Net Zero’ World,” the spotlight was on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as imperative component for achieving the Paris Agreement’s climate goals.
The GCC team presented its thoughts on CCS removal projects that are purely implemented for environmental reasons and therefore carbon market instruments are crucial to incentivize developers and address the financial hurdles often faced by CCS projects. GCC will soon launch its baseline and monitoring methodology for CCS projects, which will help catalyze the removal and reduction projects of CCS.
The MENA region’s impact of this technology was underscored, with the MENA region already capturing and storing 3.7 million tons of carbon annually.
The significance of supportive government regulations, the balance between profit and environmental sustainability, and international collaboration in the context of Articles 6.2 and 6.4 of the Paris Agreement were discussed.
MENA Climate Week 2023 served as a crucial platform for discussions on topics that are propelling the global climate action agenda. The broad range of sessions and insights, including those shared by GCC panelists, emphasizes the collective commitment to addressing climate change and advancing sustainable solutions. As the event concludes, the momentum gained during these discussions will continue to drive progress toward a sustainable and resilient future. Stay tuned for more updates from the Global Carbon Council in the run-up to COP28 in Dubai, as we lead the way in promoting sustainability and climate action in the MENA region and beyond.
Dr. Yousef bin Mohammed Alhorr, Chairman of GCC, commented: “With the upcoming launch of the GCC’s methodology for accounting carbon emissions for CCS projects, we are aiming to help accelerate the development of CCS initiatives in the MENA region and beyond. MENA Climate Week helped create the groundwork for further cooperation on CCS initiatives, and with COP28 fast approaching, there is an unparalleled opportunity to realize the potential of innovation and investment in this area to combat climate change.”
Kishor Rajhansa, Chief Operating Officer at GCC, commented: “CCS technologies have a vital role to play in helping the world achieve net zero emissions. We brought together leading climate experts during MENA Climate Week to help achieve consensus on how we could accelerate the CCS development and implementation in MENA. It is a truly an exciting time to host this conversation as GCC will shortly launch its new methodology for accounting carbon emissions reduction by CCS projects.”
MENA Climate Week 2023 served as a crucial platform for discussions on topics that are propelling the global climate action agenda. The broad range of sessions and insights, including those shared by GCC panelists, emphasizes the collective commitment to addressing climate change and advancing sustainable solutions. As the event concludes, the momentum gained during these discussions will continue to drive progress toward a sustainable and resilient future.