UN Summit boosts climate action on emissions, resilience

UN Summit boosts climate action on emissions, resilience



24 September 2019

77 countries committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, while 70 countries announced they will either boost their national action plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing so, according to the summit organizers.

Over 100 business leaders delivered concrete actions to align with the Paris Agreement targets, and speed up the transition from the grey to green economy, including asset-owners holding over $2 trillion in assets and leading companies with combined value also over $2 trillion.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, in closing the Summit, said

“You have delivered a boost in momentum, cooperation and ambition. But we have a long way to go.” “We need more concrete plans, more ambition from more countries and more businesses.”

“Nature is angry. And we fool ourselves if we think we can fool nature. Because nature always strikes back. And around the world, nature is striking back with fury,” said the UN Secretary-General. 

“Consider the last few months. July — the hottest month ever. June through August — the hottest summer in the Northern hemisphere ever, and the second hottest winter in the Southern hemisphere ever. The years 2015 to 2019 — the five hottest years on the books ever,” he said, citing information from a new WMO state of the climate report.

Young climate activists, including Greta Thunberg drove home the urgency of greater action, and their determination to hold government leaders to account.

A number of leaders committed their countries to carbon neutrality by 2050. The Russian Federation announced that it will ratify the Paris Agreement, bringing the total number of countries that have joined the Agreement to 187.

Action to boost resilience and early warnings

Financial commitments were also made to the Green Climate Fund, the official financial mechanism to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change. The Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) also announced almost 1 billion US $ of new funding over the next 3 years to accelerate climate resilient innovations and solutions in agriculture. 

The need to strengthen early warning capacities that lead to early action was identified as a priority area of collective work in the lead-up to the summit by a coalition of countries co-led by the governments of Egypt and the United Kingdom.

The Global Commission on Adaptation launched of its Year of Action. This aims to accelerate adaptation around the world and improve human well-being to promote more sustainable economic development and security. At the launch, WMO Secretary-General Taalas, who is a GCA Commissioner, reinforced WMO's commitment to collaborate in their action tracks on early warning, agriculture climate resilience and water.

The flagship report launched by the Global Commission on Adaptation (GCA) [in the build up to the summit makes the case for investing in early warning systems. Investing in early warning systems save lives and livelihoods in the face of climate extreme events and makes economic sense with a benefit cost ratio of 4 to 1. 

A new partnership launched at the summit entitled Risk-informed Early Action Partnership (REAP) aims to help ensure the world’s poorest people receive earlier warnings of potential disasters. The partnership aims to invest USD 500 million in early warning system infrastructure and institutions to target early action by people in the most vulnerable areas. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) pledged £85 million at the summit to the new partnership. WMO is a convening partner.

The new partnership recognizes the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) initiative as a key implementation mechanism for strengthening early warning systems in LDCs and SIDS. Luxembourg, as the chair, and other countries reiterated their engagement in CREWS in the build-up to the  Summit with new countries making strong signals about their interest.

Putting people at the center of efforts to build early warning systems will drive these efforts. It will scale-up WMO’s members engagement to provide impacts based warnings – these are warnings that don’t only predict the time of occurrence and intensity of a weather event but inform on what its impact will be and what actions to take. It will allow for scaling-up important WMO programmes on severe weather, flash flood and coastal inundation forecasting.

A full list of the announcements and commitments made at the Climate Summit can be found at www.un.org/climatechange

United in Science

United in Science reportsAhead of the summit, the world’s leading climate science organizations joined forces to produce a unified assessment of the state of Earth system under the increasing influence of climate change, the response of humanity and projected changes of global climate in the future. WMO coordinated the high-level synthesis United in Science under the umbrella of the Climate Science Advisory Group. 

The report includes details on the state of the climate and presents trends in the emissions and atmospheric concentrations of the main greenhouse gases. It highlights the urgency of fundamental socio-economic transformation in key sectors such as land use and energy in order to avert dangerous global temperature increase with potentially irreversible impacts. It also examines tools to support both mitigation and adaptation.

WMO’s statement on the State of the Climate 2015-2019, which formed part of the United in Science transparent package, says that the global average temperature has increased by 1.1°C since the pre-industrial period, and by 0.2°C compared to 2011-2015.

The United in Science report was presented at a high-level side event on 22 September.  There were interventions from Andrés Couve Correa, Minister of Science Technology and Innovation of Chile (President of COP25) and Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change of Finland, which holds the current European Union presidency, and Science Advisory co-chairs  Leena Srivastava and WMO Secretary-General Taalas, who also presented WMO’s State of the Climate 2015-2019 report.

Other speakers at the event included: UN Environment Executive Director, Ms Inger Andersen on latest emission gap analysis, Global Carbon Project Chair Rob Jackson on Global Fossil CO2 Emissions, Future Earth Co-Chair Johan Rockstrom on Climate Insights , and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Vice President Thelma Krug on recent IPCC reports. SBSTA Chair Paul Watkinson and UN Special Envoy for Oceans Peter Thomson also spoke.


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