In October 2018, the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report “Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.” Among its findings, the report note that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes. It further notes that the difference between the effects of 1.50C and 20C warming is significant, and highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C or higher. Limiting global warming to 1.50C would create greater chances for economies, ecosystems and societies to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds, making it easier to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Beyond this threshold, however, adaptation becomes increasingly difficult, and the risk of irreversible interference with the climate system increases.
While identifying available pathways to limit warming to 1.5°C, the report concludes that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would entail reducing net anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and reaching ‘net zero’ emissions by around 2050. This would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities, and further means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the atmosphere through carbon capture, use and storage and other techniques.
The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere and are having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, with increasing costs and negative impacts on health, livelihoods and ecosystems. Climate change is also accelerating environmental degradation and species loss, generating conflicts, and constraining the ability of most African countries to attain the Sustainable Development Goals and the ideals of Africa’s Agenda 2063. In recognition of this unfolding crisis, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres has convened a Climate Action Summit in September 2019, and has called on all leaders to come to the with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their nationally determined contributions by 2020, in line with reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent over the next decade, and to net zero emissions by 2050 as called for by the IPCC report. The SG said “I want to hear about how we are going to stop the increase in emissions by 2020, and dramatically reduce emissions to reach net-zero emissions by mid-century.”
The Climate Action Summit is organized along six key themes and three additional areas as follows:
- Climate Finance and Carbon pricing: mobilizing public and private sources of finance to drive decarbonization of all priority sectors and advance resilience; Co-led by France, Jamaica and Qatar and supported by the World Bank.
- Energy Transition: accelerating the shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, as well as making significant gains in energy efficiency; Co-led by Ethiopia and Denmark
- Industry Transition: transforming industries such as Oil and Gas, Steel, Cement, Chemicals and Information Technology; Co-led by India and Sweden and supported by the World Economic Forum
- Nature-Based Solutions: Reducing emissions, increasing sink capacity and enhancing resilience within and across forestry, agriculture, oceans and food systems, including through biodiversity conservation, leveraging supply chains and technology; Co-led by China and New Zealand and supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Mr. David Nabarro, Strategic Director of Skills, Systems and Synergies for Sustainable Development
- Infrastructure, Cities and Local Action: Advancing mitigation and resilience at urban and local levels, with a focus on new commitments on low-emission buildings, mass transport and urban infrastructure; and resilience for the urban poor; Co-led by Kenya and Turkey
- Resilience and Adaptation: advancing global efforts to address and manage the impacts and risks of climate change, particularly in those communities and nations most vulnerable. Co-led by Egypt and the United Kingdom and supported by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Additional key Areas of Focus
- Mitigation Strategy: to generate momentum for ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and long-term strategies to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Chile, as chair of COP25 will be supported by Ms. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP, and Mr. Paul Polman, Chair of the B-Team.
- Youth Engagement and Public Mobilization: To mobilize people worldwide to take action on climate change and ensure that young people are integrated and represented across all aspects of the Summit, including the six transformational areas. Co- led by the Marshall Islands and Ireland with the support of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, as well as PACJA, among other NSAs across the world.
- Social and Political Drivers: to advance commitments in areas that affect people’s well-being, such as reducing air pollution, generating decent jobs, and strengthening climate adaptation strategies and protect workers and vulnerable groups. Co- led by Peru and Spain with the support of the United Nations Department Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).