Commitments made at UN Climate Action Summit

Elena Kosolapova from the SDG Knowledge Hub of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) reviews the commitments made at the recent UN Climate Action Summit.

 

77 Countries, 100+ Cities Commit to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 at Climate Summit

The Climate Action Summit brought together more than 65 Heads of State and Government as well as leaders of sub-national governments and the private sector.

Announcements made during the day included commitments by 77 countries, ten regions and over 100 cities to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

An initial report on implementation of plans presented at the Summit is expected to be delivered at COP 25 in Santiago, Chile.

23 September 2019: UN Secretary-General António Guterres convened a one-day summit to catalyze increased ambition on climate change action. Country and municipal leaders and the private sector announced steps and initiatives to address climate change, including achieving net zero global emissions by 2050.

The Climate Action Summit brought together more than 65 Heads of State and Government as well as leaders of sub-national governments and the private sector. The event included an opening ceremony, general statements and thematic sessions on: Plans for a Carbon Neutral World; Climate Finance; Powering the Future from Coal to Clean; Unlocking the Potential of Nature in Climate Action; Towards a Resilient Future; Small Island Developing States (SIDS); Live, Work and Move Green; Cutting Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Now with Cooling and Energy Efficiency; Adapting Now: Making People Safer; Least Developed Countries (LDCs); People Centered Action Now; and the Economy Moving from Grey to Green.

In his opening remarks, Guterres highlighted the need to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030, and called for increased acceleration of climate finance, including by implementing the commitment by developed countries to mobilize USD 100 billion annually for developing countries by 2020, and replenishment of the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

During a dialogue between youth and the Secretary-General, Guterres noted that young people are calling for and implementing climate action. Greta Thunberg, Sweden, said “the world is waking up, and change is coming whether you like it or not,” but noted that “governments are failing us.”

Hilda Heine, President, Marshall Islands, called on countries to join a pledge to deliver new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020 and achieve net zero global emissions by 2050.

Narendra Modi, Prime Minister, India, announced shifts in national energy policy worth over USD 50 billion, including increases in renewable energy capacity and in the ratio of biofuel blended in petrol and diesel.

Wang Yi, State Councillor and Special Representative of President Xi Jinping, China, highlighted that since 2005, China’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions intensity has dropped by 45% and the country has contributed a quarter of newly afforested land globally.

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, UK, announced a doubling of UK spending on climate change through the country’s official development assistance (ODA).

During the session on Climate Finance, Emmanuel Macron, President, France, announced a doubling of France’s contribution to the GCF to USD 1.7 billion. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar, pledged USD 100 million to support the climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts of SIDS and LDCs.

Other financial pledges made during the Summit included: USD 6 million in international climate finance from Hungary; contributions of EUR 55 million to the GCF and EUR 2 million to the Adaptation Fund by Spain; and an announcement by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation of USD 310 million over the next ten years for CGIAR to tackle climate change and food production and, with partners from governments and the World Bank, of over USD 790 million in support for smallholder farmers to adapt to climate change.

Private sector actions announced at the Summit included: 130 banks, accounting for one-third of the global banking sector, signing up to align their businesses with the Paris Agreement goals; a group of the world’s largest asset owners, responsible for over USD 2 trillion in investments, committing to move to carbon-neutral investment portfolios by 2050; and 87 major companies, with a combined market capitalization of over USD 2.3 trillion, pledging to reduce emissions and align their businesses with a “1.5°C future.”

In his closing remarks, Guterres noted key announcements made during the day, including the 77 countries, ten regions and over 100 cities that committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Warning of the work that still lies ahead, he reiterated his call for no new coal plants to be built from 2020.

An initial report on implementation of plans presented at the Summit is expected to be delivered at COP 25 in Santiago, Chile.

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