Bold New Commitments Announced by Thousands of States, Regions, Cities, Businesses, Investors and NGOs
Focus Turns to UN Climate Conference in Poland and UN Secretary General’s Leaders’ Summit in 2019
A major climate summit ended in San Francisco, California, on Friday 14 September, with 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 and fall sharply thereafter 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 (GCAS) underlined the transformational action they are already pursuing.
Over 100 leaders, for example, are now committed to carbon neutrality i.e. removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they emit, with the Governor of California, Edmund G Brown, bringing the date forward to 2045 for his state to achieve this. Governor Brown also announced that California would be developing its own climate change pollutant-monitoring satellite in partnership with San Francisco earth-imaging company Planet Labs.
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.
It finds that a stepped-up transition to a low-carbon economy can:
- Result in $26 trillion in economic benefits worldwide through 2030.
- Generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs in 2030, equivalent to today’s entire workforces of the U.K. and Egypt combined.
- Avoid over 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution in 2030.
- Generate, through just subsidy reform and carbon pricing, an estimated US$2.8 trillion in government revenues per year in 2030—equivalent to the total GDP of India today—funds that can be used to invest in other public priorities or reduce distorting taxes.
- By a shift to more sustainable forms of agriculture combined with strong forest protection, deliver potentially more than US $2 trillion per year of economic benefits, generating millions of jobs, improving food security—including by reducing food loss and waste—and delivering over a third of the climate change solution.
- By restoring natural capital, especially our forests, degraded lands and coastal zones, strengthen our defenses and boost adaptation to climate impacts, from more extreme weather patterns to sea-level rise.
The announcements during and prior to the Global Climate Action Summit are helping realize this promise that will in turn support the achievement of the Paris Climate Change Agreement now and over the years and decades to come.
Call to Global Climate Action
Governor Edmund G Brown Jr announced that California would be developing its own climate change pollutant-monitoring satellite in partnership with San Francisco earth-imaging company Planet Labs.
The news came as delegates issued the Summit’s Call to Global Climate Action:
“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.”
“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.”
“We call on the national governments of the world to: Step-Up Ambition Now including in the form of enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020, consistent with what science tells us is needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement Now; Chart a Clear path to your Zero-carbon future and Empower Bottom-Up Climate Action,” it says.
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UN climate change and Summit co-chair, said: “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.”
UN Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake, said: “Together we will write the only story that’s bigger than climate change. The story of climate justice.”