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The Low Carbon Asia Research Network (LoCARNet)

Science-Based Policy Formulation: LoCARNet Research and Policy Integration Activities

In keeping with trends in international discussions, the countries of Asia continue to make steady progress in developing low-carbon plans and strategies based on a green economy. The Low Carbon Asia Research Network (LoCARNet; secretariat:

IGES) supports development planning and strategy building by researchers and research institutes in various Asian countries in cooperation with the National Institute for Environmental Studies and Kyoto University. By setting up opportunities for researchers and policymakers to engage in discussion, each country can show how it is quantitatively reducing GHG and take planned actions to enable more effective policymaking for low-carbon development. Further, because countries in the region share a common economic footing and geographic location, researchers in each country can pool research results, carry out knowledge sharing and actively promote a system of mutual learning to facilitate South-South cooperation. Below is an overview of LoCARNet.

12.2.1.1 Background, Sequence of Events, Organisation and Policies

Background and Policies

LoCARNet is an open network of researchers, research organisations and likeminded relevant stakeholders that facilitates the formulation and implementation of science-based policies for low-carbon development in Asia.

A new international framework currently being considered by UNFCCC includes all GHG emitter countries from 2020 and beyond. In order to stabilise global climate, in addition to developed countries being required to drastically reduce their GHG emissions, those of developing countries will also need to be reduced based on their predicted increases. If trends in mass energy consumption and growth continue, by 2050 Asia will account for half of total global emissions, which will also cause heavy concomitant impact on the region's populations. On the other hand, if the substantial investments are redirected towards creating low-carbon societies, Asia could lead the world in low-carbon development. Right now, we are standing at the crossroads.

All countries in the Asian region are currently working on plans to achieve low-carbon development. Numerous policy steps are involved, and the formulation of such plans requires scientific knowledge spanning a broad spectrum of fields. It is thus plainly apparent that an interdisciplinary community for researchers and research organisations needs to be formed. Also, as policies for low-carbon development involve important decisions that determine a country's future potential, each country should have the right to self-determination in formulating these policies, therefore must have its own robust, scientific research footings.

While the above calls for establishing unique foundations, commonalities exist in the regional environment and in stages of development. In this regard, the exchange of scientific knowledge amongst researchers in Asian countries in respective areas of expertise will greatly promote science-based low-carbon policies, and reinforcing the scientific base to bolster the formulation of policies for low-carbon development in each country in the region will require a quantum leap in cooperation, not only from researchers and research communities but also from international organisations, donor agencies, NGOs and other like-minded relevant stakeholders. The ultimate aim of LoCARNet is to promote regional cooperation to facilitate the formulation and implementation of science-based policies for low-carbon growth in the Asian region, together with relevant stakeholders.

LoCARNet effectively promotes research on low-carbon growth policy by enabling effective dialogue between scientists and policymakers and also encourages domestic collaboration amongst researchers whose research capacities and scientific knowledge are firmly grounded in their home countries (ownership in country by these researchers). LoCARNet also aims to increase research capacity in the region through knowledge sharing and information exchange, in the context of not only North-South cooperation, but also South-South regional cooperation (Box 12.1).

Box 12.1 Unique Characteristics of LoCARNet

Unique characteristics of LoCARNet

• LoCARNet is a network of leading researchers, research organisations and like-minded relevant stakeholders deeply involved in low-carbon growth policy processes in Asia.

• Science-Science-Policy Dialogue: LoCARNet promotes research on policies for low-carbon growth by enabling sufficient dialogue between scientists and policymakers.

• Country-based ownership of knowledge: LoCARNet encourages collaboration between researchers in-country whose research capacity and scientific knowledge are firmly grounded on home soil.

• Regional South-South–North Collaboration: LoCARNet aims to increase research capacity in the AP region through knowledge sharing and information exchange as a part of regional cooperation—not only North-South but also South-South cooperation.

Establishment of LoCARNet

From 2009, Japan's Ministry of the Environment and National Institute for Environmental Studies embarked on a research programme on low-carbon development in Asia. Under this coalition, IGES, together with NIES and Kyoto University, has been conducting workshops that promote dialogue between policymakers and researchers in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia, as well as networking amongst researchers in the region to encourage low-carbon development in Asia. During the course of these workshops, it became clear that low-carbon development in Asia must take place.

Considering the significance of Asia for global climate policy, the Government of Japan and IGES proposed the creation of LoCARNet at the October 2011 ASEAN + 3 Environmental Ministers' Meeting in Cambodia. The launch took place in April of the following year at a side event ('East Asia Low Carbon Development Knowledge Partnership', organised by three institutes—National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and IGES) one day prior to Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs' 'East Asia Low Carbon Growth Partnership Dialogue'. It was then officially reported to the Dialogue the following day. As IGES had been commissioned to organise the Secretariat of the International Research Network for Low Carbon Societies (LCS-RNet) based on a decision made at the G8 summit in 2008, it was also tentatively placed in charge of the Secretariat function of LoCARNet as well.

Recent trends point to initiatives in low-carbon, green growth taking place in many parts of the region, and such are supported by developed countries and international organisations. Concurrently, LoCARNet will facilitate the creation and accumulation of knowledge to help formulate and implement science-based policies for low-carbon growth in the Asia region.

Scope of Activities

The knowledge required and the issues related to promoting low-carbon growth policies are extremely diverse in nature. As such, the network needs to focus its sphere of activities on priority areas in order to provide efficient and effective results.

Regionally: ASEAN Core, Centred on Asia, Futuristically Global Although the significance of Asia was previously mentioned, China has already established a strong low-carbon policymaking process for itself and also leads the world in utilisation of renewable energies, both in terms of facilities and production. As regards India, its per capita GHG emissions are still low although it has the potential to become an emission giant in the future. Therefore, for the time being, the network will primarily focus on the parts of the ASEAN region that are undergoing striking development, with initiatives in this region making up its core activities. The network will, however, continue to promote research exchange that includes China and India.

Since the Copenhagen Accord, cooperation between developed and developing countries has intensified. In response to this, comparatively recently, momentum has been building for knowledge sharing around the world: initiatives similar to LoCARNet have been initiated by Europe, the United States and international organisations. In addition, LCS-RNet, promoted by Japan with the G8 countries, intends to expand its network to include emerging economies and developing countries, where GHG emissions are predicted to increase greatly in the future, while collaborating with LoCARNet in Asia. Further, as LCS-RNet has been requested to deal with integration of mitigation and adaptation, it is thought that LoCARNet will assist in maximising collaboration in these initiatives to yield mutually beneficial and effective results.

Targets: Low-Carbon Research as the Core, Stronger Links with Policy and Industry The objective of the network is to further low-carbon development. To do so, it is necessary to promote scientific policy based on research. Hence, it is essential to first have a robust research community in each country. However, these communities are meaningful only when research is reflected in policy and industrial activities, making strong cooperation with government (both central and local government) and business sectors a must.

Stakeholders: Researchers at the Core, Cooperation with Policymakers and Participation of Supporters, Expansion of Related Parties The roots of the network will be grounded in its research capacity. The skills of researchers involved in low-carbon development must be consolidated and the research community expanded; as such, researchers will play the leading role. Deliberation on issues to be addressed must be made from the viewpoint not only of scholarly but also policy aspects. Also, support from policymakers and the role of funding agencies are substantial in terms of finance and organisational aspects. In order to disseminate outcomes and bring about impacts, the cooperation of a broad range of stakeholders, including international organisations and NGOs, is essential.

12.2.1.2 Activities and Outcomes

The activities of LoCARNet can be categorised under three pillars. Here again, the countries of Asia continue to make steady progress in developing low-carbon plans and strategies based on a green economy.

As the first pillar, LoCARNet has maintained policy dialogue between researchers and policymakers in selected countries, together with the National Institute for Environmental Studies and Kyoto University. For example, LoCARNet experts in Indonesia, working with the National Development Planning Board (BAPPENAS), have conducted an economic evaluation comparison of a low-carbon development draft plan; a LoCARNet expert in Thailand has worked closely with the Thailand Greenhouse Gas Management Organization (TGO) and reflected his analysis within Thailand NAMA development, and in Iskandar, Malaysia, a LoCARNet expert has been conducting low-carbon city planning and implementation in order to promote collaboration with local universities and implementing organisations.

Through these policy dialogue sessions, policymakers have gradually recognised the importance of in-country involvement of researchers and research communities in the policymaking process, and as a consequence, scientific policymaking has been promoted in these countries.

In parallel, as a result of bolstered human resources in Japan (National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES), Kyoto University and IGES) engaged insupporting low-carbon development in developing countries, a series of steps has been established for low-carbon development planning, including development of the GHG inventory, vision development, quantitative scenario creation, economic evaluation, action plan design and road map formulation.

As the second pillar, having conducted several workshops for capacity development in Cambodia, LoCARNet organised a trilateral workshop for Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar in February 2014 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This workshop aimed to have Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar each utilising its own capacity to present quantitative GHG emission reduction potentials, to advance the organisation of research communities in-country, to enhance policymaking in a more effective manner and to provide a forum for researchers and policymakers to engage in discussion. In addition, owing to the various commonalities shared by the participating countries, including level of economic development and geographical characteristics, this workshop also provided opportunities for researchers in each country to bring together their research results, carry out knowledge sharing and actively promote a system of mutual learning that facilitates South-South cooperation. Through such activities, countries such as Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar are projected to be in a better position to implement the low-carbon plans discussed in the workshop.

As the third pillar, LoCARNet organised a series of annual meetings—the first

being in October 2012 in Bangkok (Thailand), second in July 2013 in Yokohama (Japan) and third in October 2014 in Bogor (Indonesia). These meetings underscored the importance of networks as fora for sharing knowledge in order to bring about low-carbon societies and low-carbon development. Further, a number of urgent issues for research common to the Asian region were discussed, including 'the need for capacity development towards the framework for 2020', 'comparison of reduction potential of Asian countries towards achieving the two degree target', 'the role of cities as pioneers for LCS', 'low-carbon technologies required in Asia', 'Asian issues: emission reduction in the agriculture, forestry and land-use sectors' and 'integration of low-carbon issues and climate change adaptation'. It is likely that LoCARNet will transfer these outputs from the research community to the policy training centres planned for ASEAN countries (Thailand and Indonesia).

In addition, knowledge sharing at the annual meetings and South-South regional cooperation together increase momentum towards realising low-carbon development in Asia, which could realise a significant GHG reduction potential and sends a very positive message. In November 2014, LoCARNet organised its Third Annual Meeting, held in Bogor, Indonesia, where researchers in Asia issued the 'LoCARNet Bogor Declaration', which states 'Asia is ready to stabilise climate' (Box 12.2).

Box 12.2 LoCARNet Bogor Declaration (November 2014) LoCARNet Bogor Declaration

Asia Is Ready to Stabilise Climate

Recognising the huge risk of climate change to human well-being as predicted by science communities; welcoming the start of a new global regime to avert it; confirming the growing importance of regional cooperation for low-carbon transition; and drawing upon Asian wisdom to contribute in stabilising climate, the participants of the LoCARNet Third Annual Meeting reaffirm that:

1. Asia has research capacity; Asia has research networks that support policymaking.

2. Asia has the potential for low-carbon transition which is adequate to contribute to the two degrees temperature stabilisation target.

3. Asia has the technological, financial and institutional capacity to facilitate low-carbon actions.

4. Many 'good practice' examples exist and their replication is challenging.

Continued technological and institutional innovations are needed to support the transition to a sustainable low-carbon society.

5. Asia is ready to make due contribution to global climate stabilisation.

However:

1. Diversity amongst Asian nations poses challenges for framing uniform policies, but provides opportunities for discovering a range of options. Regional cooperation for low-carbon research is therefore challenging as well as rewarding.

2. Asia houses a sizable fraction of low-income families. Their development needs require special attention to ensure that their welfare is not compromised.

Low-carbon research in Asia shows that timing is critical; lock-ins must be avoided, and all 'leapfrogging opportunities' should be seized and realised by positive actions, supported by global climate policies, including technology transfer and incremental finance.

Asia is ready for low-carbon transition and awaits signals from the Paris Climate Change Agreement to deploy actions towards climate stabilisation.

26 November 2014

Low Carbon Asia Research Network (LoCARNet)

Future Plan

Three years have passed since LoCARNet's official launch. During this time, research institutes and organisations in Asia have exhibited considerable development, and based on cooperation activities conducted so far, now is time for Asia tomobilise the necessary knowledge through its own capacity and to establish and manage an autonomous, regionally owned network.

Under the new post-2015 framework, respective governments in Asia should promptly develop long-term, low-carbon development plans and put them in effect. In order for Asia to develop its own policies with full ownership, the region must possess an autonomous regional research community. And, at the policy implementation stage, it is necessary for science (research) to be reflected in policies. Moreover, knowledge held in the scientific community must be leveraged to make relevant stakeholders, especially in business, and move towards low-carbon development. Under the LoCARNet scheme, several research institutes and organisations exist in this region, which are already working closely with policymakers and involved in the policymaking process in their respective specialised fields as centres of excellence (CoE). However, in the future, synergy effects amongst these institutes, as a CoE coalition or CoE alliance, must be maximised to drive progress in policies and in the business sector in this region.

In this transitional stage that includes 2015, it will be imperative to make policy proposals, in parallel, to each government, to the Asian region, to the global international community and to relevant stakeholders. This project will take the form of action research that develops the organisation through these kinds of onthe-job activities.

As regards future network activities, LoCARNet will focus on promoting priority research in fields common to the Asian region; facilitating financial and institutional support for fostering and strengthening research capacity in the region, in collaboration with donors, other institutions and organisations concerned; securing routes to reflect research results in policymaking; and activating networking and information dissemination with and to other like-minded stakeholders towards realising low-carbon societies and low-carbon development.

 
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