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In major new report, UN environment chief urges ambitious action to save planet from &#39pollution menace&#39

17 November 2017 – Every part of the planet and every person is affected by pollution – the world’s largest killer – and while solutions are within reach, new policies, enhanced public and private sector leadership, redirected investments and massive funding are all desperately needed, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has said.

Pollution has significant negative impacts on human health and ecosystems, according to UNEP’s most comprehensive assessment ever, which urges political leadership at all levels, high-level champions and commitments to achieve a pollution-free planet.

The 2017 Executive Director’s Report: Towards a Pollution-Free Planet, presented Thursday by UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim, analyzes impacts on human health and ecosystems brought on by air, land, freshwater, marine, chemical and waste pollution.

“It provides a clearer picture than ever before of the scale of the pollution menace – and the scale of action that will be needed,” he said, stressing: “None of us is now safe, so now all of us have to act.”

The report highlights that nearly a quarter of all deaths worldwide – or 12.6 million people a year – are due to environmental causes.

The health effects are stark, with air pollution alone killing some 6.5 million annually, affecting mostly poor and vulnerable people, according to the report.

Meanwhile, ecosystems are also greatly damaged by coastal, wastewater and soil pollution. The vast majority of the world’s wastewater is released untreated, affecting drinking water to 300 million people.

The report lists implementation, knowledge, infrastructure, limited financial and industry leadership, pricing and fiscal, and behavioural as five main gaps that limit the effective actions.

“What makes this report different is the breadth of its analysis and the new ambition of its solutions,” explained Mr. Solheim.

The report’s five key messages to advance towards the goal of a pollution-free planet are:

  1. political leadership and partnerships at all levels, mobilizing the industry and finance sectors;
  2. action on the worst pollutants and better enforcement of environmental laws;
  3. Sustainable consumption and production, through improved resource efficiency and lifestyle changes, better waste prevention and management;
  4. Investment in cleaner production and consumption to counter pollution, alongside increased funding for pollution monitoring and infrastructure to control pollution; and
  5. Advocacy to inform and inspire people worldwide.

Environmental governance, also spotlighted in the report, is a key enabler to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The only answer to the question of how we can all survive on this one planet with our health and dignity intact is to radically change the way we produce, consume and live our lives,” said Ligia Noronha, one of UNEP’s coordinators for the Report.

In this regard, UNEP will convene the third UN Environment Assembly from 4-6 December in Nairobi, Kenya, where UNEP is headquartered.

As the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, the Assembly aims at engaging high-level participation to tackle the global threat of pollution.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58122

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Photo Story: World pushing for faster climate action at Bonn conference

17 November 2017 – The international community has been meeting in Bonn, Germany, for the past two weeks to tackle climate change. One year after the entry into force of the Paris Climate Agreement, the annual Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an opportunity for nations around the world to show their ambition for climate action and their determination to keep their promises under the theme of “Further, Faster – Together.”

The gathering, known as COP23, started last Monday, with technical discussions over the Paris Agreement, and featured high-level events this week, including an address by UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Photo: UNFCCC

In his address on 15 November, Secretary-General Guterres called climate change “the defining threat of our time,” adding that “our duty – to each other and to future generations – is to raise ambition.” He called for lowering emissions and doing more to adapt to the changes, including through investment in climate-friendly developments, building partnerships, and strengthening political leadership. Pictured: UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, Secretary-General Guterres, and Ovais Sarmad, UNFCCC Deputy Executive Secretary.


Photo: UNFCCC

While senior officials addressed the international community, one of the most reported stories was of 12-year-old Timoci Naulusala, whose village in Fiji’s Tailevu province was hit by a cyclone last year. “My once beautiful village is now a barren and empty wasteland,” he told the thousands of participants. “Climate change is here to stay unless you do something about it.”


Photo: UNFCCC

At the heart of the conference in Bonn is the Paris Agreement, which was adopted by the 196 parties to the UNFCCC in December 2015. It calls on the international community to combat climate change by limiting global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and strive not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. Above, children at the welcoming ceremony at COP23 on 6 November.


Photo: UNFCCC

“While Paris represented one of those moments where the best of humanity achieved an agreement so important to our collective futures, Bonn represents how we will move forward to fulfil its promise,” said the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa. “We are running out of time to turn things around. To do so, we must significantly increase our efforts to reduce emissions and our carbon footprints.” Ms. Espinosa is pictured above on one of the bicycles ferrying people between venues for the conference, along with electric buses.


Photo: UNFCCC

Fijians performing a traditional ceremony at the opening of COP23. The president of the conference is Fiji – the first time a small island country on the frontlines of climate change holds that honour. Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said the world can no longer ignore phenomena such as extreme storms and rising sea levels: “It’s hard to find any part of the world that is unaffected by these events.”


Photo: UNFCCC

Above, protesters at one of the COP venues in Bonn. They are among the thousands of delegates from 193 countries – as well as scientists, environmentalists and advocates – estimated to be participating in the two-week event. Given the high turnout, the event is being held in Germany, where logistics are a lesser strain on the country’s resources, rather than in Fiji, which officially holds the presidency.


Photo: UNFCCC

Among the side events scheduled at COP23 are several focusing on the power of cities, regions, private sector companies and investors, in implementing the Paris Agreement in the areas of energy, water, agriculture, oceans and coastal areas, human settlements, transportation, industry, and forests. Pictured above are signs from an alliance that calls itself “America’s Pledge.” Led by California Governor Jerry Brown and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the group says it is committed to the Paris Agreement after President Donald Trump said in June that the United States would withdraw from it.


Credit: Jose M. Correa/UNDAC

Among the initiatives launched at the climate conference is the InsuResilience Global Partnership, which aims to offer insurance against climate risks to an additional 400 million poor and vulnerable people in developing countries by 2020. At the start of the initiative, only around 100 million poor and vulnerable people in Africa, Asia and Latin America were insured against climate-related risks. Read more about the initiative from our team in Bonn.


Photo UNFCCC

A week before the opening of the Conference, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that the levels of carbon dioxide (C02) surged at “record-breaking speed” with levels in 2016 higher than anything seen in at least 4.5 million years – before humans existed. The findings coincide with WMO data showing that 2017 is likely one of the hottest years on record.


Photo: UNDP

Climate change is a threat to rich and poor alike, wrote Ms. Espinosa, UN Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Robert Glasser in an opinion piece published in October. They talked about the devastation that Category 5 hurricanes brought to the Caribbean and the United States, and warned that the severity and frequency of such weather events will escalate, unless something is urgently done. Pictured, damage on 8 September from Hurricane Irma in Antigua and Barbuda.


Photo: UNFCCC

Our team in Bonn has been filing stories for two weeks. Here is our first. We speak to UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Ms. Espinosa, and revisit the Marrakech Climate Conference, which set the stage for this month’s event. Next year’s climate conference will take place in Poland. Pictured: Aerial view of the Bonn Campus, Germany.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58115

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Bonn: UN conference closes with renewed urgency for greater ambition to tackle climate change

17 November 2017 – The United Nations Climate Conference (COP23) wrapped up on Friday in Bonn, Germany, with delegations expressing a renewed sense of urgency and a need for greater ambition to tackle climate change.

Participants focused on how to maintain momentum two years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate change in the context of the recent announcement by the United States of its decision to withdraw from the accord. At COP23, cities and local governments, including American cities and states, intensified their push to achieve the goals set out in Paris.

The Conference, which ran from 6 to 17 November, was chaired by Fiji, an island State particularly affected by the impacts of climate change. The Fiji Presidency announced an agreement on a Gender Action Plan, highlighting the role of women in climate action.

Apart from negotiations among Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), several new climate action initiatives, commitments and partnerships were announced by States and non-State actors in the areas of energy, water, agriculture, oceans and coastal areas, human settlements, transportation, industry, and forests. Climate finance and climate resilience were also at the center of the discussions at the conference.

More than 20 countries, including the Canada, Finland, France, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, launched a new global coal alliance aimed at achieving the rapid phase-out of existing traditional coal power and at placing a moratorium on any new traditional coal power stations without operational carbon capture and storage.

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Businesses and other non-government partners have in turn made commitments to focus on powering their operations without coal.

The 19 Member countries of the ‘Biofuture Platform,’ including Brazil, China, Egypt, France, India, Morocco, Mozambique, also announced on Thursday formal agreement on the development of targets for biofuels and to construct an action plan to achieve them.

“Sustainable biofuels can provide solutions to the energy transport nexus. This partnership offers us that chance,”said Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All).

Among other initiatives announced during the Conference, a global initiative was launched Tuesday with the aim of providing insurance to hundreds of millions of vulnerable people by 2020 and to increase the resilience of developing countries against the impacts of climate change. The ‘InsuResilience’ Global Partnership is a major scaling-up of an initiative started by the G7 in 2015 under the German Presidency.

The Conference took place one year after the entry into force of the Paris Agreement. The Agreement, which was adopted by the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2015, calls on countries to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and strive not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. Today, 170 Parties have ratified the treaty.

The Conference, which was attended by some 27.000, took place in a sobering context of alarming scientific reports of climatic changes. A week before the opening of the Conference, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) announced that the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere surged at “record-breaking speed” to new highs in 2016.

COP23 will be followed by a series of summits and conferences on climate change which are scheduled ahead of the UN Climate Summit in September 2019, including the ‘One Planet summit’ to be convened by France next month and focusing on financing, a gathering in California, bringing together non-State actors, and the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018. Brazil has offered to host COP25 in 2019.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58117

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Bonn: Climate engineering is risky, but should be explored, experts say at UN conference

16 November 2017 – Climate engineering, or climate intervention, is risky but needs to be explored as a supplement – not as a ‘Plan B’ – to greenhouse gas emissions reduction, said experts at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP23), in Bonn, Germany.

Climate engineering, also referred to as geoengineering, is the deliberate and large-scale intervention in the climate system with measures including carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere or solar radiation management.

“We can do a lot, we have to do a lot, we have to try much harder at cutting our emissions, but there will remain certain emissions, especially in the land use sector, which are not going away. So we actually need to start talking about this removal of greenhouse gases inevitably,” said Matthias Honegger, research scientist with the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, at a press conference.

Different approaches are being discussed. Some already exist, like planting trees. Other ideas include dispersing certain minerals in the oceans to enhance the growth of algae, which then as they sink to the ocean floor, would create a net flux of carbon from the atmosphere into the oceans.

“Business as usual is a little worrying,” said Dr. Hugh Hunt, from the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University. “The concept of not doing anything is full of danger. Now the concept of cooling the planet is full of danger as well.”

“We need to have full-on public engagement, full-on societal involvement. The reason is that the risks of climate change are huge, the risks of doing nothing are huge; but the risks of geoengineering are huge as well. We’ve got to explore those risks, because who knows, we may end up entering a very risky world without understanding it,” he added. “Geoengineering risks are not well understood and need to be explored.”

Stratospheric aerosol injection

Due to the great uncertainties over effectiveness and side effects of climate engineering – including the risk of disrupting natural systems – experts think that there is a need to discuss climate engineering governance, especially as it relates to stratospheric aerosol injection.

Stratospheric aerosol injection consists of injecting sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere with aircraft or balloons to create a global dimming effect.

“This technology is absolutely terrifying. We may actually need it, but then, who do we want to decide. That’s where this society-wide discussion has to take place,” said Janos Pasztor, Executive Director of the Carnegie Climate Geoengineering Governance Initiative (C2G2), and former UN senior climate advisor. “It would require a level of international cooperation that we have not yet seen.”

“Who will decide whether we should make use of stratospheric aerosol injection and when that decision should take place? […] Who will make that decision on behalf of the world? And then how far do we turn the thermostat of the global air conditioning system […] to cool the planet?” he said.

“There are issues: the more temperature you want to reduce the higher the chance there will be negative impact and the higher the chance that some of these impacts will not be the same across different geographical zones. You might end up in a situation where some people benefit from the reduced temperature but some people would have negative impacts. What do you do with those people? How do you compensate them? How do you take care of them?” he added.

Mr. Pasztor concluded that the highest priority should remain the gas emission reduction. “But we have to consider these other options, as supplements, not as a ‘Plan B,’” he warned.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58102

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Bonn: UN chief urges more ambition, leadership and partnerships on climate action

15 November 2017 – Addressing the United Nations Climate Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, on Wednesday, Secretary-General António Guterres called for more ambition, more leadership and more partnerships to tackle climate change.

“Our duty – to each other and to future generations – is to raise ambition,” said Mr. Guterres at the opening of the high-level segment of COP23, which was also attended by Heads of State and Government, including President of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarana, who is also the President of COP23.

“We need to do more on five ambition action areas: emissions, adaptation, finance, partnerships and leadership,” the Secretary-General added.

The Bonn Conference, which opened on 6 November 2017, is taking place one year after the entry into force of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The Agreement, which was adopted by the 196 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December 2015, calls on countries to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and strive not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. Today, 170 Parties have ratified the treaty.

Regarding emissions reductions, the UN chief urged countries “to use the 2020 revision of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to close the 2030 emissions gap.”

He also stressed how essential climate mitigation is, calling for adaptation measures and strengthening resilience. The Green Climate Fund can play a catalytic role in this regard. He appealed to its members, especially donor nations, to reinvigorate engagement with that vital finance mechanism.

The world should adopt a simple rule: If big infrastructure projects aren’t green, they shouldn’t be given the green light. Otherwise we will be locked into bad choices for decades to come UN chief Guterres

As greater ambition on emissions, adaptation and resilience “is inextricably linked to funding,” the Secretary-General stressed the need “to mobilize the agreed $100 billion annually for developing countries.”

“We must stop making bets on an unsustainable future that will place savings and societies at risk,” he added, stressing that “if we add the economic benefits of avoiding the devastation of climate change impacts, gross domestic product (GDP) in 2050 would soar by 5 per cent.”

“The world should adopt a simple rule: If big infrastructure projects aren’t green, they shouldn’t be given the green light. Otherwise we will be locked into bad choices for decades to come. Investing in climate-friendly development is where the smart money is needed,” Mr. Guterres said.

The Secretary-General stressed that more ambition required action coalitions across all key sectors and by all actors. “We must engage all actors – national, regional and local governments, philanthropists and investors and consumers – in the transformation to a low-emission economy,” he said.

As for political leadership, Mr. Guterres encouraged countries to be bold in their deliberations and decisions in Bonn and at home. “Show wisdom in investing in the opportunities of the future. Show compassion in caring what kind of world we build for our children,” he stated.

Also addressing the COP23 High-Level segment, the President of the UN General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, reminded participants that “the decisions we make today will affect not only us – but also those who come after.”

He added: “If we hand over a planet with an uncertain future, history will not forgive us.”

For his part, Mr. Guterres welcomed a series of summits and conferences on climate change which are scheduled ahead of the UN Climate Summit in September 2019, including the ‘One Planet summit’ to be convened by France next month and focusing on financing, a gathering in California, bringing together non-State actors, and the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, in December 2018.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58090

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Bonn: New initiatives in energy, water and agriculture sectors announced at UN climate conference

10 November 2017 – New commitments and initiatives in energy, water and agriculture sectors were announced on Friday, at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, under the auspices of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action to help implement the Paris Agreement.

The Marrakech Partnership aims at catalyzing greater climate action by public and private stakeholders as the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, calls on countries to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and strive not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Cleaner energy development

In Bonn, new initiatives were announced to push forward the transition to renewable energy and to show that more ambitious clean energy development can quickly become a bigger part of national climate plans submitted under the Paris Agreement.

“With the price of renewable and storage technologies tumbling, and greater understanding on how to set the policy table for a cleaner energy mix and more integrated energy planning, the question before decision makers is, why wait?” said Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and CEO, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All).

Among key announcements, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a new report, Untapped Potential for Climate Action: Renewable Energy in Nationally Determined Contributions, which suggests there is substantial scope for countries to cost-effectively increase renewable energy.

The Climate Group also announced new members to its recently launched EV100 campaign, a major new global electric transport initiative designed to make electric vehicles “the new normal.” And 13 countries with the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced this week the launch of a new multi-year, 30 million euros plan to support clean energy transitions around the world.

Investing faster and further in agricultural climate action

Regarding agriculture, leaders and experts said that investing faster and further in agricultural climate action and to support the sustainable livelihoods of small-scale farmers will unlock much greater potential to curb emissions and protect people against climate change.

“Countries now have the opportunity to transform their agricultural sectors to achieve food security for all through sustainable agriculture and strategies that boost resource-use efficiency, conserve and restore biodiversity and natural resources, and combat the impacts of climate change,” said René Castro, Assistant-Director General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

In the livestock sector, for example, FAO estimates that emissions could be readily reduced by about 30 percent with the adoption of best practices.

FAO released a new Sourcebook on Climate-Smart Agriculture. It recommends scaling up public and private climate finance flows to agriculture; spurring public-private partnerships; strengthening a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder dialogue; investing in knowledge and information; and building capacity to address barriers to implement climate action.

Managing healthy water supplies

Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, President of the organization Women for Water Partnership, at the UN Climate Conference (COP 23) in Bonn, Germany. Photo: UN News/Jerome Bernard

In the water sector, the majority of national climate plans with an adaptation component prioritize action on water, yet financing would need to triple to $295 billion per year to meet such targets, said experts on Friday.

“Sustainable use of water for multiple purposes must remain a way of life and needs to be at the center of building resilient cities and human settlements and ensuring food security in a climate change context,” said Mariet Verhoef-Cohen, President of the Women for Water Partnership.

The international water community co-signed on Friday what it called a “nature based solution declaration” to encourage the use of natural systems in managing healthy water supplies. Around 40 per cent of the world’s population will face water shortages by 2050, accelerating migration and triggering conflict, while some regions could lose up to six per cent of their economic output, unless it is better managed.

“Involving both women and men in decision making and integrated water resources initiatives leads to better sustainability, governance and efficiency”, said Ms. Verhoef-Cohen.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58068

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Bonn: Financing for low-carbon, climate-resilient future takes center stage at UN climate conference

13 November 2017 – The urgent need to raise the finances to meet the funding goals of the Paris Agreement, especially to support action by developing countries, took center stage Monday at the UN Climate Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.

The urgent need to raise the finances to meet the funding goals of the Paris Agreement, especially to support action by developing countries, took center stage Monday at the UN Climate Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.

“We need all financial players – public, private, domestic, international – and including markets and regulators, to work together effectively to mobilize at least $1.5 trillion in climate finance that is needed every year,” said Eric Usher, Head of Finance Initiative at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

As part of ‘Finance for Climate Day’ at COP23, high-level representatives from across the sector highlighted their efforts to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement of keeping the average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 Celsius.

They stressed that every dollar invested in cutting greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change gets double the bang for the buck because it directly supports the international community’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

According to the UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat, finance for climate is flowing at a greater pace than ever, with vibrant and growing markets for renewable energy, electric vehicles, green buildings and climate-smart agriculture seeing aggressive growth, backed by exponential advances in innovative green financial instruments, indices and markets.

Equally, the finance sector is recognizing to a much greater degree where and how climate change presents risks to its existing investments and the need to adjust their portfolios away from carbon-intensive assets to reduce that risk.

However, much more is needed to secure finance and investment at the scale required to deliver a fully de-carbonized and climate-resilient global economy by 2050.

“The potential for climate friendly investment in areas such as clean energy and climate-smart agriculture is enormous,” said Laura Tuck, Vice-President Sustainable Development at the World Bank. “The key is to get the funding to flow so that everyone everywhere can benefit from low-carbon and climate resilient investments.”

Peter Damgaard Jensen, CEO of the Danish Pension provider PKA and Chair of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) said at a press conference that “it is extremely important that there is a significant increase of investor awareness and action with regards to supporting the transition […] to a low carbon economy.” “Strong investment signals from policy makers across carbon trading, energy, transport and buildings, are essential to unlock the necessary capital,” he added.

Members of African civil society and members of Parliament spoke today on the urgency of climate finance as a prerequisite to ambitious action in African countries.

“Africa is the continent that pollutes the least,” but “it is Africa which suffers the effect of climate change,” said at a press conference Roger Nkodo Dang, President of the Pan-African Parliament, which is the legislative body of the African Union.

In an interview with UN News, he added that developed countries have a duty to provide additional support to Africans for their green development. “If you tell us ‘do not cut the wood,’ we say, ‘you bring us electricity,’” he said. “It’s not a favor; it’s a compensation.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58077

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Bonn: UN climate conference set to recognize the role of women in climate action

12 November 2017 – With the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23), in Bonn, Germany, entering its final week of negotiations, the Fiji Presidency today announced an agreement on a Gender Action Plan, highlighting the role of women in climate action.

At a press conference, President of COP 23 and Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, announced that the Parties had finalized the plan, which still has to be adopted.

“This recognizes the role of women in climate action,” he said.

“It is about integration of gender into all the work around climate policy – both nationally and internationally,” added Nazhat Shameen Khan, the Chief Negotiator for the COP 23 Presidency.

Heads of State and Government, Ministers, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres will be attending the high-level segment of COP 23, on 15-16 November.

New national and corporate climate action on forests

Also Sunday, countries and corporations announced new initiatives to cut emissions from forest use and establish sustainable forestry management programmes.

The efforts include an Ecuadorean initiative to reduce 15 million tons of CO2 emissions in the forest sector; a commitment to deforestation-free commodities by Walmart; Mars Inc.’s new policy to reduce their carbon footprint 27 per cent by 2025 and 67 per cent by 2050 through addressing deforestation throughout their corporate value chain; and Gabon’s National Park Service efforts to combat illegal logging.

“The forests have this incredible ability to store carbon and we have underinvested in that,” said Inger Andersen, Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at a press conference.

“Protecting and restoring the forests is absolutely key to achieving the Paris Agreement [as well as] the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

A wind turbine farm in Tunisia. Photo: World Bank/Dana Smillie

Hundreds of companies commit to climate action

Also today in Boon, the industry sector said that it is set to deliver much of the emissions reductions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goal but added that closer national and international policy and implementation strategy partnerships together with governments will help business take further, faster action.

“Industry is taking action on climate change like no other period in history,” said Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD, a global, business leaders-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working on sustainable development).

“The transition to the low-carbon economy is inevitable, and business will continue to implement the solutions necessary for fulfilling the Paris Agreement,” he added.

Since 2015, over 600 companies with combined revenues of more than $15 trillion have made over 1,000 commitments to climate action through ‘We Mean Business,’ a global non-profit coalition. Many are going 100 percent renewable, are implementing science-based targets and are collaborating across sectors through the Low Carbon Technology Partnership initiative (LCTPi).

Local, regional leaders sign Commitment for faster climate action

Local and regional leaders from around the world signed the Bonn-Fiji Commitment Sunday, pledging action to deliver on the Paris Agreement.

Cities are responsible for as much as 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels used for energy and transport, and with more than half the global population living in urban centres and this figure expected to approach two-thirds by 2050, the Bonn-Fiji Commitment pushes efforts to advance sustainable urban development.

The Commitment encompasses 19 initiatives, including The European Covenant of Mayors and Compact of Mayors joining forces to create the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy – the largest coalition of over 7,400 cities from six continents and 121 countries to reduce emissions and make societies and economies resilient to climate change.

Similarly, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the UN Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC) and in partnership with the Fijian Presidency launched an initiative to protect people living in small island developing States from the health impacts of climate change.

The vision is that, by 2030, all small island developing States will have health systems that are resilient to climate change.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58075

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Bonn: UN climate conference recognizes the role of women in climate action

12 November 2017 – With the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23), in Bonn, Germany, entering its final week of negotiations, the Fiji Presidency today announced the Gender Action Plan, highlighting the role of women in climate action.

At a press conference, President of COP 23 and Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, announced that the States Parties had finalized the plan.

“This recognizes the role of women in climate action,” he said.

“It is about integration of gender into all the work around climate policy – both nationally and internationally,” added Nazhat Shameen Khan, the Chief Negotiator for the COP 23 Presidency.

Heads of State and Government, Ministers, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres will be attending the high-level segment of COP 23, on 15-16 November.

New national and corporate climate action on forests

Also Sunday, countries and corporations announced new initiatives to cut emissions from forest use and establish sustainable forestry management programmes.

The efforts include an Ecuadorean initiative to reduce 15 million tons of CO2 emissions in the forest sector; a commitment to deforestation-free commodities by Walmart; Mars Inc.’s new policy to reduce their carbon footprint 27 per cent by 2025 and 67 per cent by 2050 through addressing deforestation throughout their corporate value chain; and Gabon’s National Park Service efforts to combat illegal logging.

“The forests have this incredible ability to store carbon and we have underinvested in that,” said Inger Andersen, Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), at a press conference.

“Protecting and restoring the forests is absolutely key to achieving the Paris Agreement [as well as] the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

A wind turbine farm in Tunisia. Photo: World Bank/Dana Smillie

Hundreds of companies commit to climate action

Also today in Boon, the industry sector said that it is set to deliver much of the emissions reductions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement goal but added that closer national and international policy and implementation strategy partnerships together with governments will help business take further, faster action.

“Industry is taking action on climate change like no other period in history,” said Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD, a global, business leaders-led organization of over 200 leading businesses working on sustainable development).

“The transition to the low-carbon economy is inevitable, and business will continue to implement the solutions necessary for fulfilling the Paris Agreement,” he added.

Since 2015, over 600 companies with combined revenues of more than $15 trillion have made over 1,000 commitments to climate action through ‘We Mean Business,’ a global non-profit coalition. Many are going 100 percent renewable, are implementing science-based targets and are collaborating across sectors through the Low Carbon Technology Partnership initiative (LCTPi).

Local, regional leaders sign Commitment for faster climate action

Local and regional leaders from around the world signed the Bonn-Fiji Commitment Sunday, pledging action to deliver on the Paris Agreement.

Cities are responsible for as much as 70 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels used for energy and transport, and with more than half the global population living in urban centres and this figure expected to approach two-thirds by 2050, the Bonn-Fiji Commitment pushes efforts to advance sustainable urban development.

The Commitment encompasses 19 initiatives, including The European Covenant of Mayors and Compact of Mayors joining forces to create the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy – the largest coalition of over 7,400 cities from six continents and 121 countries to reduce emissions and make societies and economies resilient to climate change.

Similarly, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), in collaboration with the UN Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC) and in partnership with the Fijian Presidency launched an initiative to protect people living in small island developing States from the health impacts of climate change.

The vision is that, by 2030, all small island developing States will have health systems that are resilient to climate change.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58075

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Bonn: new efforts announced at UN climate conference to push for further, faster climate action

11 November 2017 – Cities, the transport sector and ocean advocates today announced a number of new initiatives to push for further, faster climate action, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 23) in Bonn, Germany.

These announcements were made under the auspices of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, created last year to spur action by state and non-state sectors to help implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.

New Transport Decarbonisation Alliance

In a major new partnership, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Costa Rica and the Paris Process on Mobility and Climate (PPMC) launched the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance to stimulate greater political leadership in the sector.

Transport contributes about one quarter of all energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and about 15-17 per cent of the entire spread of human CO2 emissions.

“More ambitious and coordinated action on transport is required to deliver on the Paris Agreement,” said José Mendes, Deputy Minister for Environment of Portugal.

Six new voluntary sector initiatives were also introduced in Bonn to address specific aspects of transport and climate change. These include: the ‘below50’ (expanding the global market for the world’s most sustainable fuels); the EcoMobility Alliance (cities committed to sustainable transport); EV100 (accelerating the transition to electro-mobility); Walk 21 (valuing and delivering more walkable communities); the Global Strategy for Cleaner Fuels and Vehicles; and the Transforming Urban Mobility Initiative (accelerating implementation of sustainable urban transport development and mitigation of climate change).

Electric cars parked at the UN Headquarters, in New York, as part of a campaign to raise awareness on sustainable electricity. (file) UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

Cities and communities speed coordinated climate action

Similarly, global cities and communities also announced new efforts Saturday to coordinate their climate action commitments to deliver bigger and faster results together.

“Local and regional governments are making commitments that will help national Governments close the gap between current national commitments and the emissions reductions needed to achieve the Paris Agreement targets”, said Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, a global network of more than 1,500 cities, towns and regions working together for sustainable development.

Urban areas account for around two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from global energy use. Their overall contribution to total greenhouse gas emissions is estimated at between 37 and 49 per cent globally, depending on base assumptions of data used.

Also at a press conference at COP 23, the Mayor of city of Pittsburgh (in the United States), William Peduto, announced that 367 American mayors have agreed to be “part of the Paris Agreement no matter what our Federal Government did”.

“It’s going to happen at the local level”, he said.

The new initiatives announced include efforts ICLEI and the global NDC Partnership (a coalition of countries and institutions working to mobilize support for climate goals and enhancing sustainable development) to design, implement and align climate action strategies across all levels of governments.

Similarly, the Cities Climate Finance Leadership Alliance (a group of some 40 organizations working to mobilize investment in low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure in cities and urban areas internationally) is mapping available finance to match known infrastructure projects – a critical requirement to help local governments identify funding.

Rabi Island, Fiji. Rising sea levels and more extreme weather events pose an imminent threat to low-lying atoll islands across the Pacific. Photo: OCHA/Danielle Parry

Threat of ocean warming and ocean acidification

Also Saturday at COP 23, a new declaration was signed to strengthen global response to climate change impacts on oceans and coastal zones.

Oceans are the planet’s largest carbon sink, a major regulating force of global climate, and fundamental to the survival and well-being of humanity.

“Oceans have featured little in the UN climate negotiations to date, and yet they are not only important for planetary survival but also offer great opportunities for innovation towards a low-carbon blue economy”, said Biliana Cicin-Sain, President of the Global Ocean Forum.

Isabel Torres de Noronha, Executive Secretary of the Future Ocean Alliance, a non-governmental organization, in an interview with UN News, underscored that ocean acidification “might put at risk not only ecosystems but also many economic activities and food security of coastal populations.”

Among initiatives at national level, she highlighted one from Viet Nam about strengthening the coastline by planting forests of mangroves.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58073

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Accelerate climate action and raise ambition, urges UN chief

10 November 2017 – As the impact of climate change worsens around the world, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called on the global community to redouble efforts to help countries respond to climate shocks, especially the most vulnerable.

“I am encouraged to see climate action taking hold, at all scales, at all levels, involving an ever-wider coalition of actors and institutions,” said the Secretary-General, at a press stakeout at the UN Headquarters, in New York.

“But we need to do more,” he underlined.

In his remarks, the UN chief said that he will be travelling to Bonn to participate in the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23), where, he will urge efforts to accelerate climate action as well as to raise ambition to do more.

“The window of opportunity to meet the 2-degree target may close in 20 years or less – and we may have only five years to bend the emissions curve towards 1.5 degrees,” he said, noting the need for a further 25 per cent cut in emissions by 2020.

Speaking on the need for bolstering finance, Mr. Guterres called for mobilizing the agreed $100 billion annually for developing countries, which is crucial to spur action.

He also said that in September 2019, he will convene a Climate Summit to mobilize political and economic energy at the highest levels.

“I ask world leaders to show courage in combatting entrenched interests; wisdom in investing in the opportunities of the future; and compassion in caring what kind of world we build for our children,” he said.

“As a former politician myself, I have no doubt that in today’s world, this is the path to progress today and a meaningful legacy for tomorrow.”

Also at the stakeout, the UN chief informed that before Bonn, he will visit the Philippines to attend the UN-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit, and after participating at COP23, he will deliver an address at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London on counter-terrorism and human rights on Thursday, 16 November.

“As the world responds to modern terrorism, our goal must be to win the fight while upholding our values,” he said.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58066

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