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 Global Climate Action Summit: Vision For A New World  

Date of Publish - Sunday, 23rd September 2018


“We, the people gathered at the Global Climate Action Summit, and communities around the world calling for climate action, commit to a climate-safe future for all.” - The Delegates Call to Action


The Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) at San Francisco ended with the delegates calling on national governments to join forces to step up climate action ahead of 2020, the year when global greenhouse gases need to peak to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The meeting of leaders from states and regions, cities, business, investors and civil society at the Global Climate Action Summit underlined the transformational action they are already pursuing. Leaders also unveiled a range of bold new commitments across five specific challenge areas aimed at taking their collective ambition to the next level. These are aimed at avoiding risks and seizing the opportunities outlined in a suite of reports including the new Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story of the 21st Century by the New Climate Economy.

Over 70 big cities, home to some 425 million citizens, are now committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, including Accra, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mexico City. These actions alone will lead to a 2.5 percent cut of annual global greenhouse gas emissions and the avoidance of 12 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2050. A further 9,100 cities representing 800 million citizens are now committed to city-wide climate action plans. This could lead to reductions of more than 60 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent between now and 2050.

It was revealed that 26 cities with 140 million people are committed to buy only zero-emission buses starting in 2025 and creating zero-emission areas in their cities starting in 2030. Mayors of key cities reaffirmed their commitment to delivering on the highest ambitions of the Paris Agreement, namely to keep a global temperature rise to below 1.5℃ and new commitments towards zero waste, reduction of emissions in new and existing buildings and to deliver inclusive climate action that benefits all citizens equitably.

Over 100 leaders are now committed to carbon neutrality, with Governor Jerry Brown of California, one of the co-chairs of GCAS, bringing the date forward for his state achieving this to 2045. They declared that transition to a low-carbon economy can result in $26 trillion worth of worldwide economic benefits, generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs and avoid over 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution, all by 2030. They also declared that restoring natural capital including forests, degraded lands and coastal zones and strengthen defenses and boost adaptation to climate impacts from extreme weather patterns and sea-level rise.

“The climate crisis calls for urgent action. We have seen the human impact on health, disease, famine, conflict, refugee crises, and livelihoods. We have seen thousands of people die each year from worsening storms and floods, heat waves, droughts, and wildfires. These impacts disproportionately affect the poor, disadvantaged, and vulnerable.” - The Delegates Call to Action

At least 400 global companies along with healthcare providers, cities, states and regions now have 100% renewable energy targets. This includes nearly 150 major global companies such as Tata Motors and Sony who have joined the RE100 initiative. Over 30 energy intensive industry and property players have set smart energy and net zero carbon buildings targets through EP100. Another 488 companies from 38 countries have adopted emission reduction pathways in line with the science of the Paris Agreement. Nearly a fifth of Fortune Global 500 companies have now committed to set science-based emissions reduction targets including big emitters like India’s Dalmia Cement

At the Summit, 21 companies announced the Step Up Declaration, a new alliance dedicated to harnessing the power of emerging technologies and the fourth industrial revolution to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all economic sectors and ensure a climate turning point by 2020. Others joined a new Pledge for a Just Transition to Decent Jobs. They pledged to only buy from renewable energy providers that uphold fundamental workers’ rights including social protections and wage guarantees.

A powerful Leaders Group and a new alliance linking over 100 NGOs, businesses, state and local governments, indigenous groups and local communities was launched to fire up action across the forest, food and land agendas. Over 100 global supply chain actors including supermarket chain, Tesco pledged to work with a variety of organizations to halt deforestation and native vegetation loss in the Cerrado, Brazil. Companies including Walmart and Unilever committed to the Sabah Restoration Project of approximately 4,000 hectares in the Sugut, Kinabatangan and Tawau river basins in Malaysia.

Ecuador, in partnership with Norway and Germany, announced a Pro-Amazonian initiative to conserve 13.6 million hectares of unique rainforest, with the project also expected to reduce emissions by over 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent a year. The Global Environment Facility announced $500 million in funding to drive improved land use and forest conservation.

During the GCAS, 29 philanthropists from the United States and from around the world pledged $4 billion over the next five years to combat climate change—the largest-ever philanthropic investment focused on climate change mitigation. This included nine of the world’s leading philanthropic foundations who announced their intent to commit at least $459 million through 2022 to the protection, restoration and expansion of forests and lands worldwide—the announcement underlined indigenous peoples’ and traditional communities’ collective land rights and resource management.

The Investor Agenda was formally launched bringing together nearly 400 investors managing US $32 trillion of assets. It means that investors with assets more than a third larger than the economy of the United States are now firmly focused on accelerating and scaling-up financial flows into climate action and building a more sustainable, low-carbon, global economy.

Around 296 investors have now joined Climate Action 100+ which is working with some of the highest emitting companies to assist them in lowering emissions, getting on track with clean energy and the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Green Bond Pledge announced the goal of seeing US $ 1 trillion-worth of green bonds issued by end 2020. A Global Green Bond Partnership, (GGBP) backed by the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and major climate finance and sustainability groups was launched with the aim of supporting and assisting sub-national and corporate green bond issuance.

The key message from the CAS was that the world needs more determined leadership for a rapid transition towards a net-zero emissions society. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN climate change and Summit co-chair, summed it up, “This Summit and its Call to Action make an important contribution towards achieving our collective goal: to keep global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement. It will encourage governments worldwide to step up their actions, demonstrating the vital role that states and regions, companies, investors, and civil society are playing to tackle climate change.”

“Now is the time for all leaders to step up and take bold action. Climate change is a threat to all humanity, and it can only be solved by a global cooperative effort. Only together will we transform our communities and energy systems, create employment opportunities and economic prosperity, protect our oceans and natural environment, and complete the transition to a zero-carbon world.” - The Delegates Call to Action

Author :
Rituraj Phukan


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