Editing Office - Geneva
UN Climate Change News, December 2018
In the last fortnight – as the UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) has been underway in Katowice – UN Climate Change’s Global Climate Action team has been staging a parallel schedule of events, showcasing concrete actions from all sectors of society.
The eight-day programme kicked off on Tuesday 4 December with a High-Level Opening in the main plenary, featuring United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, and COP 24 President Michał Kurtyka. It was a unique opportunity for climate leaders – including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Astronaut Mae Jemison, ING CEO Ralph Hamers, and Explorer Bertrand Piccard – to talk directly with government representatives about the critically important cooperation between state and non-Party actors if the world is to meet the 1.5C goal of the Paris Agreement.
The Global Climate Action programme at COP24 also incorporated the inauguration of a new space, called the Action Hub, which hosted cultural performances, debates, TED-style talks, award ceremonies and video competitions. Guests included Greta Thunberg, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Slava Fetisov, and Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. Overall, there were 85 events which attracted nearly 4,000 participants (not including the music performances).
Stand-out moments in the second week included the launch of two major sector-wide initiatives pledging to keep their industries in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement: The Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action and the Sports for Climate Action Framework.
Meanwhile, Momentum for Change hosted its annual award ceremony, recognizing 15 game-changing initiatives during a series of events throughout the second week at COP24. Winners included Bank of America, The Government of British Columbia, Seacology, and Yalla Let’s Bike – a Syrian initiative that empowers female cyclists in war-torn Damascus while simultaneously fighting climate change.
As all this was happening, many dozens of dedicated youth delegates from around the world participated, making recommendations, urging-on delegates, tracking progress, organizing and attending side events, and building their networks. Some youth directly supported country delegations in the negotiations.
The key highlights of Global Climate Action are captured chronologically below:
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) releases a report on “Going further, faster”: The WBCSD released a report on the Low Carbon Technology initiative, marking the continued drive for businesses to scale up climate action and impact. The report highlights achievements from the business community, showcasing examples of tangible action taken in 2018.
Five leading banks commit to global climate goals: The major banks, ING, BBVA, Société Générale, Standard Chartered and BNP Paribas have committed to quantify the climate alignment of their lending portfolios and to explore ways to steer financial streams towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. The shift marks an ambition to support sector-specific shifts in technology and production processes by developing open-source methods for measuring how well lending portfolios align with the Paris Agreement targets.
Scotland announces funding for Global Climate Action: First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, announced £200,000 for the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, to encourage collaboration between government, business, and wider society to immediately lower emissions and increase resilience against the impact of climate change.
Maersk sets net-zero CO2 emissions target by 2050: Aimed at accelerating the transition to carbon-neutral shipping, Maersk announced its goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. To achieve this goal, carbon neutral vessels must be commercially viable by 2030, and an acceleration in new innovations and adaption of new technology is required.
Global Climate Action portal (NAZCA) updated: Infographics and contextualizing statements were added to the Global Climate Action portal, enabling insight into the website’s nearly 20,000 climate actions from over 12,000 stakeholders. In addition, improved action classification now allows users to obtain an overview of the distribution of actions that have a pre-2020 target, post-2020 target, are without a target or are associated with participation in an initiative.
ICLEI releases two flagship reports: ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) released two new reports outlining the way forward for subnational climate action. Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues: Leveraging Subnational Action to Raise Climate Ambition draws on the outcomes of more than 60 multilevel dialogues, and the Cities and Regions Talanoa Dialogues report highlights the value of multilevel climate action, inclusive policymaking and the Talanoa process.
Polish cities join the Global Climate Action portal (NAZCA): During the two-day municipal summit, “Cities for Climate,” over 20 Polish cities and towns declared their commitment to join the NAZCA network.
RegionsAdapt report launched: The Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development has, with support from the CDP’s states and regions platform, published a report on regional adaption to climate change. The publication highlights the challenges involved in protecting vulnerable populations from the impacts of climate change, reporting over 260 adaption actions from 38 regional governments in 16 countries.
Global investors released a statement to governments on climate change and addressing the ‘ambition gap’: 415 investors, with USD32 trillion in assets-under-management, signed a call-to-action highlighting the need for private sector investment in the low carbon transition. The statement was accompanied by a briefing paper, requesting governments to phase out thermal coal power and fossil fuel subsidies as well as demanding a meaningful price on carbon.
Report released showing it is vital for investors to support a just transition: A new flagship report authored by Nick Robins, Vonda Brunsting and David Wood aims to inform on the social implications of responding to the risks of climate change. The report, produced in partnership with the Principles for Responsible Investment and the International Trade Union Confederation, provides a guide on why investors should take action and how they can do it.
Milestone Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action launched: UN Climate Change launched the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action with 43 global brands, organizations and NGOs committed to start the journey towards decarbonization of the fashion sector. It includes a commitment of a 30 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 and the setting of a decarbonization pathway in line with science‑based targets. Founding signatories include adidas, Burberry, Esprit, Guess, Gap Inc. Hugo Boss, H&M Group, Inditex, Kering, Levi Strauss & Co., Puma SE, PVH Corp., and Target.
Landmark EAT-Lancet report on Food, Planet, Health to be published in January: A highlight event under the Global Climate Action agenda – Planetary Health: Food Systems – was also held at COP 24. At the event, Johan Rockström announced that the EAT-Lancet report on Food, Planet, Health will be published in the prestigious Lancet medical journal on 16 January 2019. It is expected to be a landmark report on the role of food systems in achieving the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals. Lack of scientific targets for food systems has hindered large-scale and coordinated efforts to transform food systems.
C40 launches report in collaboration with IPCC authors: A new report is to be launched summarizing what the IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C means for cities. The report will detail how all 1.5 C-consistent pathways require action in and by cities and is the result of a collaborative effort by 18 IPCC lead authors.
Businesses grasp electric vehicle opportunity to tackle air pollution and rising transport emissions: Five new signatories – BT Group, E.ON, Schenker AG, Ontario Power Generation and Genesis Energy – joined the corporate leadership initiative EV100. The companies pledged to electrification of their fleets by 2030, aiming to make electric transport the new normal by 2030.
Sports launch climate action framework: The sports sector and UN Climate Change announced the launch of the Sports for Climate Action Framework to gather sports organizations, teams, athletes, and fans in a concerted effort to raise awareness and action to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. The launch event featured founding signatories: International Olympic Committee, International Sailing Federation, World Surf League, Forest Green Rovers Football Club, and the French Tennis Federation (Roland Garros), and Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.
Fifteen game-changing initiatives in 14 countries were honoured as winners of the United Nations Climate Action Award by Momentum for Change. Some of the 15 winners that spoke about their solutions at COP 24 included:
The Forest Green Rovers: described by FIFA as the “world’s greenest football club.”
Bank of America: which is working with partners to mobilize approximately USD 10 billion for innovative and high-impact climate mitigation and sustainability-focused investments.
The Government of British Columbia: the first government at the provincial, territorial, or state level in North America to take 100 percent responsibility for its greenhouse gas emissions.
Seacology: an NGO helping Sri Lanka become the first nation in history to preserve and replant all of its mangrove forests.
Yalla Let’s Bike: a Syrian initiative that empowers female cyclists in war-torn Damascus while fighting climate change.