As COP27 focuses on implementation, the managing director at Intercontinental Consultants & Technocrats, Prashant Kapila (PK) says financial transparency must replace short-term profit.
IG: As COP 27 focuses attention on practical climate actions and outcomes, are we making sufficient progress on meeting global and local ambitions for decarbonisation?
PK: “The world committed in 2015 at the Paris Conference to holding the climate change to 1.5 degree Celsius. But according to the latest UN Emissions Gap Report 2022 the emissions are going to be 16% higher this year. Globally, we continue to witness the increasingly destructive impacts of climate change. The increased frequency and intensity of events such as wildfires, floods and droughts are costing lives, disrupting economies and setting back development progress that has taken years to establish. The world emissions need to be reduced by 45% to avoid a global catastrophe.
“Natural disasters in Asian countries have almost doubled in the last two decades. In 2020, over 1,770 recorded weather-related events led to about 30 million new displacements, the highest number since 2010. Industrialisations in America, Europe and China have led to great levels of climate change and it is the developing nations that are trying to mitigate the dangers levied upon them. China burns almost 50% of the worlds coal domestically. These things need to stop.
“At global level we are nowhere close to meeting the decarbonisation goal. Now we are in dire need to address the issue at a rapid pace, starting on a local level and building it upwards. India has launched Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment), reducing prices of renewable energy, spearheading both International Solar Alliance and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. But as a developing nation it needs funds to meet the tragic loss of infrastructure and life due to natural calamities.
“There cannot be a separation between local and global goals. They need to be in sync and still work together towards a cooperative solution.”
IG: Who or what are the key barriers or ‘blockers’ to faster climate action?
PK: “The key barrier in faster climate action is the dishonesty in fulfilling climate commitments by developed countries.
“Short-term profits still seem to be the goals of MNCs and Banks which results in a big gap in the funding provided to the poor countries to adapt and mitigate the burden of the climate related disasters. There needs to be transparency in finance flows. Global poverty has underwritten the riches of the developed world.”
“climate compatible development sits at the intersection of climate mitigation, climate adaptation and sustainable development” Prashant Kapila
IG: How important is it that we establish comprehensive and trusted carbon calculation across every part of the infrastructure industry?
PK: “It is extremely important. Countries have to come together and commit to change in the ways of life. Utilizing Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to promote climate adaptation can not only reduce climate risks but also support the development of healthy and productive ecosystems. Ambition, innovation and investment need to back this up. The built environment accounts for 39% of gross annual carbon emissions worldwide but not all construction industry leaders are pursuing an aggressive strategy to net-zero carbon emissions.
“All project collaborators need to have complete understanding of carbon targets from the very outset of a project and standard definitions and benchmarks need to be set across the construction industry in terms of materials being used and the long terms impact on climate. Infrastructure practitioners have the possibility of doing them well by enhancing co-benefits and managing negative trade-offs in relation to their climate impacts throughout the infrastructure lifecycle.
“Governments should also play a pivotal role by issuing penalties on companies not doing enough to protect the planet. Alternate resources should be more accessible and maintaining transparency on carbon footprint should be made a norm. Government should set strategic policies, regulations and standards, using levers to incentivize sustainable development pathways and to restrict development that may lock in unsustainable outcomes and practices.
“The concept of climate compatible development sits at the intersection of climate mitigation, climate adaptation and sustainable development, which are equally important in realizing the commitments of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.”
IG: What is the single most significant action available to industry to achieve climate ambitions?
PK: “Coordinated actions throughout the infrastructure lifecycle that seek to promote climate compatible development is the most important action that we can take to meet the climate ambitions. Infrastructure is responsible for 79 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, and accounts for 88 per cent of all adaptation costs.
“The importance of building for the SDGs, as well as for greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation costs, highlights the need to transform the way we plan, manage and operate buildings in the future – for example, by integrating nature-based solutions and sustainable building materials, and improving energy efficiency.
“Investment in sustainable infrastructure comprising renewable energy development, electrification and power plant efficiencies, clean lighting, ecoefficient appliances and building standards, public transportation and electric vehicles, waste reduction, and wastewater management; these mitigation actions can directly influence SDG targets on clean energy, infrastructure and innovation, sustainable cities and climate action.
“We need to also act small to achieve big. Individual steps on a smaller scale will help achieve the greater global goal. Therefore to reiterate, actions must be coordinated as no action can single-handedly enable the achievement of climate compatible development.”