Energy

Deploying the Right Tools to Fight Climate Change

This November, the United Kingdom in partnership with Italy will host countries at Glasgow for the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 26), where countries will pledge commitments to address the climate crisis. As the world continues to face catastrophic climate events, COP 26 serves as an essential moment in the ongoing fight against climate change.

While governments should enter Glasgow with roadmaps for near-term actions to address this crisis and work toward achieving net-zero carbon outputs by 2050, members of the private sector, including investors and nongovernmental organizations, have a critical role to play in the fight.

In partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, the sponsor of the Resilient Cities Network and a leader in climate, resilience and equitable energy transitions, and the U.N.’s Capital Development Fund, Meridiam recently secured €290 million (more than $330 million) for The Urban Resilience Fund or the International Municipal Investment Fund. TURF/IMIF is a global blended finance impact fund launched to develop and invest in greenfield essential infrastructure that responds to the acute needs of growing cities in non-OECD countries.

As a public infrastructure developer, investor and manager committed to delivering sustainable and resilient infrastructure projects that positively impact communities for the long term, Meridiam further realized TURF’s mission with the successful closing of the Catalytic Capital Fund in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and infrastructure project developer and investor Private Infrastructure Development Group.

Today, cities face rapid population growth, rising CO2 emissions and declining air quality standards, rendering them particularly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change and underscoring the importance of delivering resilient infrastructure. Through CCF, we will seek to equip cities with financial and technical resources to develop projects in line with the Paris Agreement objectives and U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and mobilize up to €10 billion (more than $11 billion) in private investment for commercially viable projects in the clean mobility, energy transition and environment and social infrastructure sectors.

The need for even more investments in resilient and sustainable public services is clear: More than 70 percent of the world’s population is expected to live in an urban environment by 2050. The price tag for these necessary investments is sizable, at an estimated $5 trillion per year globally.

However, financial resources to counter climate change are most impactful if they are backed by relevant expertise. For example, before the completion of the Port of Miami Tunnel, truck and bus routes restricted the port of Miami’s ability to grow, were a source of major pollution and limited redevelopment of the northern portion of Miami’s Central Business District. Through a public-private partnership, a concession agreement was designed to construct the Port of Miami Tunnel, which was completed in 2014 and immediately diverted around 16,000 vehicles of daily traffic from downtown Miami, reducing polluting congestion. An estimated 80 percent of the cargo traffic traveling into and out of the Port of Miami now uses the tunnel, thereby avoiding downtown and decreasing carbon emissions from congestion and idle time on city streets.

Additionally, the project features flood gates that protect the tunnel against flooding, a risk exacerbated by rising sea levels and climate change, and tunnel roadway LED lighting is scheduled for installation in 2021. The tunnel’s contributions to the U.N. SDGs are multifold but fundamentally reflect how real, positive growth toward mitigating climate change is made possible by bringing to bear industry expertise that can channel resources in the right direction.

Working together, governments and the private sector can drive meaningful CO2 reductions by the end of this decade to combat climate change and accelerate the actions and investments needed for a sustainable, low-carbon future. I am optimistic that as COP26 begins, both the public and private sectors will do their part by committing to concrete, measurable action by 2030.

 

Thierry Déau is chief executive and a founder of the investment firm Meridiam, chairman of the Long Term Infrastructure Investors Association, and chairman of Finance For Tomorrow (French financial cluster for sustainable finance).

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