New commitments, new ideas, and new financing for significant actions to address the challenge of climate change dominated the announcements made by more than 100 Heads of State and Government and leaders from the private sector and civil society at the Climate Summit hosted Tuesday by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
World leaders reaffirmed the need to take urgent action to limit global temperature rise to less than two degrees Celsius. Acknowledging that the world was not on a pathway to reach that goal, they also committed to significantly ramp up climate action. Many speakers made it clear that taking action to reduce emissions could be achieved without damaging prospects for economic development and efforts to fight poverty.
Closing the Summit, the Secretary-General said, “I asked for bold announcements from Governments, business, finance and civil society in five key areas. The Summit delivered.”
“This Summit was not about talk. History is made by action. And now we have seen that the world is ready to act.”
At the Summit, heads of government, business and civil society announced actions in areas that would have the greatest impact on reducing emissions, including climate finance, energy, transport, industry, agriculture, cities, forests, and building resilience.
Government leaders also committed to reach an ambitious and universal climate agreement in Paris in 2015 and pledged to work under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to reach it.
And many countries announced climate goals, targets and initiatives, including announcements of contributions to the Green Climate Fund by both developing and developed nations.
Several European countries announced that they would pursue the target of 40 per cent greenhouse gas reductions over 1990 levels. The United States announced an initiative to bolster resilience efforts and China announced that will reduce carbon intensity, increase the share of non-fossil fuels and raise the forest stock, and see its total total carbon dioxide emissions peak as early as possible. India announced it will double its wind and solar power production by 2020.
Developing countries stressed their own efforts to address climate change. Many emphasized initiatives to protect and expand their forests. Georgia said it was working to become carbon neutral by 2050; Costa Rica said it would use 100 per cent clean energy by 2016; and Chile said it was aiming to green 45 per cent of its energy by 2025.
Many countries stressed efforts to build carbon-trading mechanisms and the need to put a price on carbon emissions.
More than 70 countries and 1,000 companies endorsed the development of mechanisms that would reflect the true costs of emissions and other forms of pollution.
More than 30 companies endorsed the Caring for Climate Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing, which include setting an internal carbon price high enough to affect investment decisions to drive down greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of the most ambitious goals were announced by coalitions of governments businesses and civil society. Financial institutions, commercial and national banks, insurance companies and pension funds vowed to mobilize more than $200 billion in finance for climate action by the end of 2015 through a host of new initiatives, such as those aimed at issuing green bonds and shifting assets to clean-energy portfolios.
In an acknowledgment of the special needs of people on the frontlines of climate change, Summit participants placed a heavy emphasis on adaptation and resilience initiatives. These included an announcement from the insurance industry, representing $30 trillion in assets and investments, committed to creating a Climate Risk Investment Framework for industry-wide adoption by the end of next year.
“Looking forward, we must maintain the spirit of compromise and commitment that characterized our discourse,” Mr. Ban concluded.
“We must fulfill and expand on all the pledges and initiatives brought forward today. As we walk together on the road to Paris in December 2015, let us look back on today as the day we decided – as a human family – to put our house in order to make it liveable for future generations.”
The announcements and commitments made at the Climate Summit can be found at www.un.org/climatechange/summit and on Twitter from @climate2014live #climate2014.