UN chief welcomes G20 commitment to fight climate change
The declaration notes a focus on four pillars at the meeting : the future of work, infrastructure for development, a sustainable food future and a “gender mainstreaming strategy” (assessing the implications for people of different genders of planned policies) across the G20 agenda.
Mr. Guterres, in a statement released on Sunday, picked out three key messages from the statement:
Support for the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, the UN’s global blueprint for a fair globalization that leaves no one behind, is reaffirmed in the document, along with a pledge to use all policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.
As well as stressing the need to raise ambition in the fight against climate change, the G20 leaders express their very strong support of countries that are signatories to the 2015 Paris Agreement, to implement their commitments set out in their nationally determined contributions.
The G20 declaration states that the leaders look forward to “successful outcomes” of the COP24 climate change conference, which begins in Katowice, Poland from 3 December: the “Work Programme” or rule book of the Paris Agreement – which, for the first time, brought almost all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects – is expected to be agreed at the event.
Mr. Guterres pointed out that agreement on the Work Programme will significantly advance implementation of the Paris accord.
In the declaration, said the UN chief, G20 leaders recognize the importance of a multilateral approach to trade and of the reform of the World Trade Organization, and renew their commitment to a rules-based international order.
The Secretary-General concluded with a reminder that the G20 comprises the world’s leading emitters of environmentally harmful gases, and that the declaration provides hope for a solution to a global challenge that he has described as a direct existential threat : “these agreements by the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies, which also contribute the largest share of global green-house gas emissions, can help rally the international community to make sure that climate change is a race we can win. Indeed, it is a race we must win.”
Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/12/1027251Back to Top
COP24: green, gender focus, as UN’s crucial climate change conference gets underway
Days after the UN sounded the alarm on the unprecedented levels of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, the world is gathering to define how the 2015 Paris Agreement will be implemented and moved forward.
Under the agreement, all countries have committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the global average rise in temperature to well below 2°C, and as close as possible to 1.5°C.
Cycling for the planet
Kicking off the two-week event in Katowice, which has historically been a coal-mining town in the south of Poland, a team of cyclists on electric bikes arrived from Vienna, having biked 600 km to demonstrate the value of renewable energy to reducing emissions. The expedition was supported by the UN Global Compact, a group of private sector companies committed to sustainable development.
The cycling team, called “Moving for Climate NOW”, made up of about 40 people from different institutions and countries, was welcomed by UN Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary, Ovais Sarmad, and Jakub Gibek, Head of the Climate Policy Unit of the Ministry of Environment of Poland.
“I commend the cyclists involved in this bike tour for inspiring the world to move in the right direction to fulfil the promise of the Paris Agreement,” said Mr. Sarmad. “This is the most important COP since the signing of the agreement, and we need initiatives like yours to testify that governments, the private sector and individuals can work together to tackle climate change by committing to multilateralism.”
A green conference
To limit COP24’s footprint and achieve carbon neutrality locally, the conference organisers have taken a series of different measures. First, public transportation in the city is free of charge for the duration of the conference, for all participants.
In addition, reusable materials have been used to set up the conference rooms, including carpets and backdrops. Recycled cardboard furniture was installed in all the main meeting spaces.
The conference will also enforce a strict waste management policy: distinct recycling bins will be available in all meeting rooms; the packaging of electronic equipment has been saved and will be reused after the conference is over; the packaging of catering products is environmentally friendly; single-use plastic products are limited across the space; and overall, the conference is dispensing with paper as much as possible, with official documents available only in digital versions.
To limit greenhouse emissions from vehicles, “virtual” participation is being encouraged and supported through live webcasts of the main events.
Unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions due to the event will be tracked through a rigorous calculation by the organisers based on international standards. It is anticipated that COP24 will generate approximately 55,000 tons of CO2. To offset this, the Polish Government has committed to planting more than 6 million trees, capable of absorbing the equivalent of the conference’s emissions in the next 20 years.
Focusing on gender
Adopted at the previous COP, the UNFCCC Gender Action Plan (GAP) promotes the mainstreaming of gender into climate policy and action at all levels. Half-way into the implementation of the GAP, parties, observers and the Convention Secretariat will showcase the measures they have taken to date.
Regarding the gender representation in the conference itself, the UNFCCC Secretariat has been monitoring since 2013 gender balance in technical and decision-making bodies established under the Convention. For the first time this year, more than half of these bodies have female representation of 38 per cent or more. Furthermore, there is a record number of female delegates elected to the position of Chair or Co-Chair of these bodies – nine out of a possible 28 positions. Though these improvements represent steps in the right direction to achieve the goal of gender balance, much remains to be done.
The conference in numbers
This 24th COP will be hosting over 28,000 people. The figure includes: close to 13,000 people with the parties to the UNFCCC gathering to negotiate the Paris Agreement work programme, some 450 UN staff, over 7,000 observers from non-governmental organisations, and 1,500 media representatives. In addition to over 6,000 staff, the conference is employing about 500 volunteers.
The conference space built by the Polish Government over the past six months, covers an area of close to 100,000 square meters. Nearly 2,000 people worked on its construction and outfitting.
Well over 100 events will highlight action in transport, water, land-use, energy, the fashion industry, to name a few, representing the wide spectrum of climate action. They will include CEOs, mayors, governors and other leaders from civil society at large.
On Monday, the grand opening ceremony will take place with about 40 heads of State and heads of Government in attendance, as well as UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.
Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/12/1027261Back to Top
Four things the UN chief wants world leaders to know, at key COP24 climate conference opening
The two-week 24th conference in Katowice, Poland, of the parties to the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC), technically started on Sunday, but Monday saw the high-level grand opening. It marks the deadline for the 197 parties that signed the Convention, to adopt guidelines for the implementation of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement.
In the French capital, three years ago, countries collectively agreed to keep global temperature rises to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and if possible, to limit the rise to 1.5°C. Now, in Poland, they have to agree on how they will achieve this collectively. “We cannot fail in Katowice,” said UN chief Guterres.
Kicking off the event, along with several other high-level representatives, he highlighted four key messages for the thousands of representatives of the world’s nations, non-profit organisations, UN agencies, and private sector companies gathered in Katowice.
1. ‘We need more action and more ambition’
The Secretary-General started by noting that climate change is already “a matter of life and death” for many people, nations and countries of the world, and that the science is telling us we need to move faster.
Citing various alarming UN reports – including one on rising global CO2 emissions and another one on increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere – he called on nations to pay attention to the science and step up their pace as well as their ambitions.
“Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption,” he stated.
“Last year I visited Barbuda and Dominica, which were devastated by hurricanes. The destruction and suffering I saw was heart-breaking,” he explained, noting that “these emergencies are preventable”.
He called on the international community to work to ensure that emissions must decline by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and be net zero by 2050, and that renewable energy will need to supply half to two-thirds of the world’s primary energy by 2050 with a corresponding reduction in fossil fuels.
“If we fail, the Arctic and Antarctic will continue to melt, corals will bleach and then die, the oceans will rise, more people will die from air pollution, water scarcity will plague a significant proportion of humanity, and the cost of disasters will skyrocket”, he warned the delegates ahead of their negotiations:.
2. Implementation guidelines are essential to build trust among nations
Stating that “we have no time for limitless negotiations”, the Secretary-General insisted on the need to operationalise the Paris Agreement, and reminded Member States that 2018 is the deadline that they set for themselves to finalise the guidelines for implementation.
“We need a unifying implementation vision that sets out clear rules, inspires action and promotes raised ambition, based on the principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances”, said the UN chief.
“We achieved success in Paris because negotiators were working towards a common goal,” he added as he implored the delegated to maintain the same spirit of urgent collaboration to “ensure that the bonds of trust established in Paris will endure.”
3. Adequate funding of climate action will be ‘central’
“We need concerted resource mobilization and investment to successfully combat climate change,” the Secretary-General told the delegates attending the COP24 grand opening, noting that three quarters of the infrastructure needed by 2050 for climate action still remains to be built.
He insisted on the need to focus efforts on five key economic areas: energy, cities, land use, water and industry.
“Governments and investors need to bet on the green economy, not the grey,” he explained, stressing the need to embrace carbon pricing (i.e. charging emitters of CO2 for their emissions), eliminate harmful fossil fuel subsidies, and invest in clean technologies.
“It also means providing a fair transition for those workers in traditional sectors that face disruption, including through retraining and social safety nets,” he noted, adding that “we also have a collective responsibility to assist the most vulnerable communities and countries – such as small island nations and the least developed countries – by supporting adaptation and resilience.”
In 2015, a total of 18 high-income nations committed to providing US$100 billion dollars a year, by 2020, to lower-income nations to support their climate action. Mr. Guterres urged developed nations to deliver on this commitment.
He also urged Member States “to swiftly implement the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund. It is an investment in a safer, less costly future”.
4. ‘Climate action makes social and economic sense.’
“All too often, climate action is seen as a burden,” said the UN secretary-General, as he explained that “decisive climate action today is our chance to right our ship and set a course for a better future for all”.
The UN chief commended cities, regions, civil society and the business community around the world for moving ahead. “What we need is political more will and more far-sighted leadership. This is the challenge on which this generation’s leaders will be judged.
According to the recent New Climate Economy report, “ambitious climate action could yield 65 million jobs and a direct economic gain of $26 trillion US dollars compared to business as usual over the next 12 years”.
The UN chief stressed the need to ensure that this economic transformation is led with a commitment to gender equality, and the inclusion of youth.
“We must start today building the tomorrow we want,” the Secretary-General said.
‘Audacity’ and ‘five times more ambition’ needed
Echoing the UN Secretary-General’s remarks, the Prime Minister of Fiji, Frank Bainimarama, who presided over COP23 called on the world to deliver “five times more ambition, five times more action” and avoid “becoming the generation that betrayed humanity.”
The President of the UN General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa, called for “audacity” in climate action and noted that multilateralism is the only way to reverse the negative effects of global warming.
As for the President of this COP, Michał Kurtyka, referring to the mining past of Katowice, he invited the delegates to “pursue a path of deep but just transition” when bringing the Paris agreement to life. Earlier, the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, presented a “Declaration for a Just Transition,”
During the grand opening, the World Bank Chief Executive Officer, Kristalina Georgiewa, also announced that the World Bank would will double its current five-year investments towards supporting climate change initiatives by allocation $200 billion from 2020 on. This will include $100 billion from the World Bank directly, half of which will be allocated to mitigation and resilience-buidling initiatives, and another $100 billion from two World Bank Group members — the International Finance Corporation and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency — and private capital.
The event closed with an address by the world’s people delivered by world renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough. The statement was inspired by thousands of messages posted by individuals on social media over the past weeks, urging world leaders for climate action.
“Their message is clear: time is running out. They want you, the decision makers to act now. They’re behind you, along with the civil society represented here today,” he said.
Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/12/1027321Back to Top