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UNIDO at COP26: industrial development and climate change

16 November 2021

Global warming

GLASGOW, 16 November 2021 - The United Nations Industrial Development Organization sent a delegation of four women and three men to the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference to deliver important messages about the role of industry in saving the planet and its people from global warming.

On 9 November, the new Industrial Deep Decarbonization Initiative (IDDI), which is implemented by UNIDO, announced that the governments of the United Kingdom, India, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Canada had made a pledge sending a clear message to heavy industry – “If you make low-carbon steel and concrete, we’ll buy it”. (See World’s largest steel and concrete buyers make game-changing push for greener solutions)

The group of countries announced its intention to buy low-carbon steel and concrete, with specific interim targets by 2030 to be revealed at the next meeting of the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) by mid-2022. Right now, the public procurement of steel and cement in the five countries represents 25 to 40 per cent of the domestic market for such materials.

Within the next three years, the IDDI aims to have at least 10 countries commit to purchasing low-carbon concrete and steel. The initiative is also helping countries to align their public procurement policies with their low-carbon steel and concrete purchasing pledges. 

In a statement welcoming the countries’ pledge, LI Yong, Director General of UNIDO, said, “Many of our heavy industry partners are already on this journey and assurances from governments are exactly what they need now to boost their efforts to ultimately make low-carbon steel and concrete the norm. We are committed to getting as many governments as possible onboard.”

In an interview with COP26TV, Rana Ghoneim, Chief of UNIDO's Energy systems and Infrastructure Division, highlighted the imperative of shifting to green materials and technologies in order to achieve the Paris Agreement goals and be part of the global response to the climate crisis.

On 4 November, UNIDO and Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change jointly organized a side event titled, “Pakistan’s efforts in transitioning from HFCs to ozone and climate-friendly alternatives”.

In his presentation, Tareq Emtairah, Director of UNIDO’s Department of Energy, highlighted UNIDO’s engagement in the field of climate change and the implementation of the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan in Pakistan (Stage II), which, he said, is driving sustainability in seven thermoware polyurethane foam industries through the transfer of technology in the manufacturing sector, the redesign of foam production equipment, to the establishment of a supply chain in four polyurethane discontinuous sandwich panel foam industries.

On 5 November, UNIDO, together with SDG7 Youth Constituency, organized the event, Bridging the Generational Divide: Championing Youth Innovation side event. Senior youth advocates and youth entrepreneurs and activists agreed that to champion youth innovation and bridge the generational divide there is an urgent need for a financing and capacity building targeting youth-led initiatives and projects.

Ishita Yadav, Youth Sustainable Energy Hub Coordinator, said, “Youth empowerment facilitates paradigm change by fostering innovation, advancing sustainable leadership and promoting equality.”

On 8 November, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) announced 10 new winners of its Challenge Programme for Adaptation Innovation, a competition that provides seed funding for innovative initiatives designed to help vulnerable countries cope with the worsening climate crisis. UNIDO will be the implementing agency for three of the 10 project selected: BFA Global, Earth Security and the World Resources Institute.

Speaking at the event, Tareq Emtairah, Director of UNIDO’s Department of Energy, said, “UNIDO is focused on catalyzing innovation and private sector action in supporting adaptation and resilience. Our engagement in the Challenge Programme is a unique opportunity to support innovative models for scalable and bankable adaptation solutions that have truly transformational climate adaptation impact. I am confident that the three projects that UNIDO will support will provide important lessons on innovative models in engaging the private sector in climate adaptation.”

On 10 November, UNIDO, ENERGIA International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (ENERGIA), and the Global Women’s Network for the Energy Transition (GWNET) co-hosted an event at the UNFCCC SDG7 Pavilion to catalyze action towards gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Moderated by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, the COP side event presented the Gender and Energy Compact and its multiple signatories. This compact, developed in the framework of the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on Energy, is one of its kind in putting women and gender equality at the centre of achieving SDG7: ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

On the same day, UNIDO organized a side event on ‘Green hydrogen application driving growth of renewable energy and advancing inclusive energy transition’ in joint partnership with Austria’s Ministry of Climate Action, Environment and Energy, and partners from developing and in-transition countries to bring greater visibility to green hydrogen initiatives. (See UNIDO's Global Programme on Green Hydrogen in Industry)