Ahead of the most important climate action event of the year, the international expert community releases key reports with the latest scientific information on climate impacts, national targets and climate action progress over the last 25 years. Now climate diplomats have only one thing to focus on: stepping-up implementation.
The United in Science report, prepared collectively by the world’s leading climate science organizations and released on 22 September 2019, presents in concise manner the most relevant scientific information on climate-related risks, including warming temperatures, sea-levels rise, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and more.
Looking at climate ambition, the joint UNDP and UNFCCC report The Heat is On gives an overview over nations’ climate goals and major implementation barriers, as well as opportunities for stakeholder engagement and synergies between climate and sustainable development. This report states clearly that business as usual is not a viable option – states must find solutions that are much more ambitious and holistic.
And finally, the UNFCCC publication Climate action and support trends demonstrates, based on member-states’ reporting, what works and what does not in climate action. It brings attention to key sectoral and geographical vulnerabilities and highlights obstacles that need to be overcome to implement climate goals.
Based on this work, decision makers have the opportunity to focus entirely on devising concrete climate action plans. The United Nations has already pledged to cut its own GHG emissions in half by 2030 in response to the climate emergency. In a communiqué published ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit, the European Union committed to releasing a long-term strategy on climate neutrality by 2050 early next year. 87 major companies have just committed to limiting their emissions to a level compatible with the 1.5 degree goal and achieving net-zero by 2050. This includes both their operations and value chains.
The question remains: will leaders take up the challenge set by UN Secretary- General António Guterres to step up ambition and deliver concrete climate action plans?
The Kingdom of the Netherlands has contributed $28 million to back FAO's work to boost the resilience of food systems in Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan - part of a new initiative to scale-up resilience-based development work in countries affected by protracted crises.
A group of five small countries have announced that they will launch negotiations on a new Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability, which, if successful, would constitute the first international trade agreement focused solely on climate change and sustainable development. The initiative also breaks new ground by aiming to simultaneously remove barriers for trade in environmental goods and services and crafting binding rules to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. Small countries can pioneer the development of new trade rules that can help achieve climate goals, but making credible commitments, attracting additional participants, and ensuring transparency will be essential ingredients for long-term success.
Ten years after committing to rationalise and phase out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, G20 countries still subsidise coal, oil and gas to the tune of around USD 150 billion annually. The process to try to move the G20 forward on this issue has been via peer review of fossil fuel subsidies, but these reviews need to be followed by action. Subsidy reforms could free up resources that could be channeled back into government programmes, which would be necessary to mitigate the impacts of rising energy prices on vulnerable populations and to help smooth reforms, and could also be spent on accelerating a clean energy transition.
Adapting to climate change and strengthening resilience are becoming priorities for the international community – however, they require greater ambition in climate policy. 107 governments and numerous international organisations have endorsed a call for action on raising ambition at the United Nations Climate Change Summit on 23rd September 2019. Following the summit, the Global Commission on Adaptation will begin its Year of Action to meet the climate challenges ahead. The Year of Action is here to accelerate climate adaptation around the world, to improve human well-being and to drive more sustainable economic development and security.