Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan, High-Level Welcoming remarks by Ms. Mirjana Spoljaric Egger, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Europe and the CIS at High-Level Opening Session, 13 October 2021

 

Your Excellency President Tokayev,

Distinguished partners,

I am honored to join you at the presentation of Kazakhstan's vision to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. I express my gratitude to the President, His Excellency Mr. Tokayev, for hosting today’s event, which shows an ambitious commitment to a low-carbon, climate-resilient, and prosperous future for the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Global warming presents the biggest existential threat to humanity. It affects everyone – but not equally. It is the poor and vulnerable who pay the price of inaction. Climate change and inequality are inextricably linked.

Despite the abundance of low-cost fossil fuels, Kazakhstan has already initiated structural transformation to create a more diverse and green economy. Deep decarbonization of the energy system, which amounts to about three-quarters of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, is at the heart of this transformation.  

Still, we must not underestimate the scale of this mission. The phasing out of fossil fuels represents a dramatic structural change to the economy, trade, and production bases.

On the other hand, the momentum for decarbonization in Central Asia is real. Kazakhstan shows political will and the vision to lead the way. Because without decisive action, the region will risk missing out on the energy transition.

A steep drop in the economic cost of renewables has led to a rapid uptake of green energy and accelerated electrification. Investing in clean energy creates almost three times more jobs than investing in fossil fuels.

Central Asia has great untapped renewable energy resources: hydropower, biomass, geothermal, wind, and solar. Energy efficiency and green hydrogen will also play an important role in decarbonization.

But the key point is: green transition depends on getting the financing right. It requires bringing public and private sectors together. In Kazakhstan, UNDP has been deploying catalytic and innovative instruments to mobilize private sector investments in sustainable development, such as carbon offsetting, energy efficiency subsidies, loan guarantee schemes, and green bonds.  

On public funding, more effective domestic resource allocation through the national budget, which prioritizes sustainable and low-carbon infrastructure, should be high on the agenda. This is why UNDP is calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies as the critical step to divest from fossil fuels and invest in both people and the planet.

According to the International Energy Agency, significant fossil fuel consumption subsidies are present in over 40 countries around the world, including Kazakhstan. Such subsidies are incentives for wasteful fuel consumption; they exacerbate air pollution and increase greenhouse gas emissions. Their removal, on the other hand, coupled with carbon pricing and green fiscal reform, makes economic sense.

Mr. President, ladies, and gentlemen,

Building upon decades of collaboration with governments in the promotion of green and low carbon development, and holding a 4.9 billion USD portfolio in grant financing for sustainable energy, buildings, transport, industry, agriculture, and biodiversity projects in 137 countries and territories worldwide, UNDP stands ready to mobilize its experience and expertise to assist the Government of Kazakhstan in implementing its energy transition in an economically viable and socially fair way.

We are committed to taking forward the vision of this conference, to collaborate with the Government, its institutions, and our joint partners, towards a future that is sustainable and prosperous for all.  Thank you!

 

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