Posted on 23 September 2019
New York (23 September, 2019) - Important sectoral transformational initiatives were unveiled at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York today, boosting the Secretary General’s call to countries and non-state actors to respond to the climate crisis. This was despite the biggest emitters being largely absent from the day-long Summit programme.
Climate action must increase three- to five-fold across the board, to keep warming below 1.5°C. This is the threshold beyond which, scientists say, the impacts of climate change will be devastating. While those that earned a spot on the stage at the Summit today made positive contributions, much more has to be done in the coming months to ensure we can bend the curve on climate emissions and safeguard the one billion people, species and ecosystems most affected by climate impacts.
Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF’s global climate and energy practice said: “Secretary-General Gueterres was courageous in holding the bar high for the Summit. And some important transformational announcements were made, on long-term decarbonisation, sectoral transformation in the finance, food and cooling sectors. But it is disappointing that the heavy polluting countries haven’t done more.”
Announcements worth highlighting include:
- Countries such as New Zealand, Norway, Chile, Colombia, Fiji, Denmark and Costa Rica, took a step forward in putting on the table, new and ambitious commitments for getting to carbon neutrality by 2050 or well before.
- Action from non-state-actors such as financial institutions that are part of the Asset Owners Alliance who committed to move emissions from 37 GT to 3GT annually by 2050.
- Danone announced a One Planet Business for Biodiversity coalition (made up of 20 of the world’s largest agri-businesses, worth USD$ 500 billion) committed to a shift to a regenerative agriculture.
“These are exemplary commitments. However, if heavy emitters don’t come on board, the needle will not move,” continued Pulgar-Vidal.
On the other hand, nature-based climate solutions emerged as one of the most promising strands of work moving forward from the Summit. “We need to see 3% of climate investment going to nature-based climate solutions to rapidly scale and focus on the most vulnerable people and the ecosystems that sustain their livelihoods,” said Vanessa Pérez-Cirera, WWF ́s deputy leader of the global Climate and Energy Practice.
“The Climate Action Summit has been critically important in forcing the world to become laser-focused on the climate crisis. Clearly though, we are yet to see the scale of change and commitment needed to address it. This is the message that must now travel to COP25 and COP26 by which time countries must deliver the ambition we need to ensure the Paris Agreement succeeds,” said Pulgar-Vidal.