UN Summit a 'major step'

The UN Climate Action announced a ‘major step up’ in progress as 77 countries committed to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050, and 70 countries have announced that they will either boost their national action plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing so.

For the private sector, 100 business leaders delivered concrete actions to align with the Paris Agreement targets, including asset-owners holding over $2tr in assets and leading companies with combined value also over $2tr, as reported here.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in closing the Summit, said, “You have delivered a boost in momentum, cooperation and ambition. But we have a long way to go. We need all financial institutions, public and private, to choose, once and for all, the green economy.”

Countries that made announcements included France announcing that it would not enter into any trade agreement with countries that have policies counter to the Paris Agreement, Germany committing to carbon neutrality by 2050 and the EU announced at least 25 per cent of the next EU budget will be devoted to climate-related activities. The Russian Federation announced that they will ratify the Paris Agreement, bringing the total number of countries that have joined the Agreement to 187.

For finance, there are now 12 countries making financial commitments to the Green Climate Fund, the official financial mechanism to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change. This financial commitment to the Green Climate Fund follows Norway, Germany, France and the UK who doubling their present contributions, and the UK making a major additional contribution, doubling its overall international climate from 2020 to 2025.

In energy, 80 countries have now joined the International Solar Alliance, China has said it will cut emissions by over 12bn tonnes annually.

Three Percent Club launched at UN to curb emissions

The UN Climate Action Summit has seen a raft of new alliances, coalitions and initiatives, some overlapping, that target particular groups to help reduce the impact of climate change.
A major initiative was the formation of the Three Percent Club, a coalition of countries, businesses and institutions have committed to a three per cent annual global increase in energy efficiency across their economies and businesses – the target necessary to meet global climate goals.

At its launch, the Three Percent Club already includes 15 governments, including Argentina, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Portugal, Senegaland the United Kingdom.

Plans finance for green cities

Another significant announcement was to consider the future of urban living. Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in cities and two-thirds of people will live in cities by 2050. But the draw of the city is balanced by their inefficiency in energy use, consuming today more than two-thirds of the world’s energy.

An estimated $93tr worth of sustainable infrastructure will need to be built by 2030, and over 70 per cent of that will be built in urban areas. As a result, the UN Climate Action Summit is seeking to implement concrete strategies to build sustainable cities and communities. Zero Carbon Buildings for All is a new initiative that unites national and local governments, builders, investors and civil society in fully decarbonising buildings sectors by 2050. Kenya, Turkey, the UAE, and the UK have already committed, as well as financial institutions such as the International Finance Corporation, the European Investment Bank, and the Global Environment Facility.

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