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by on September 18, 2018
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Summit highlighted the ways in which subnational actors and leaders from all sectors are “taking ambition to the next level” with a plethora of commitments and announcements that, if implemented, will generate over 65 million new, low-carbon jobs by 2030.
  • More than 60 state, regional and city governments and multinational businesses committed to 100% zero emission vehicles through The Climate Group’s ZEV Challenge.
  • To unlock inclusive economic growth, 488 companies from 38 countries adopted emission reduction pathways in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • Over 70 cities committed to carbon neutrality by 2050.
  • California Governor Jerry Brown signed a package of bills aimed at reducing carbon emissions by increasing the number of zero emission vehicles and charging stations in California, among other efforts.

15 September 2018: The Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) concluded with a ‘Call to Action,’ urging national governments to join forces with states and regions, investors, businesses and civil society to step up climate action ahead of 2020 when global emissions must peak to avoid the worst climate change impacts. The GCAS, which brought together over 4,000 participants, provided the opportunity for a range of stakeholders to showcase climate action they are already pursuing and announce new commitments going forward.

The GCAS convened from 12-14 September 2018, in San Francisco, California, US. The Summit highlighted the ways in which subnational actors and leaders from all sectors are “taking ambition to the next level” with a plethora of commitments and announcements that, if implemented, will generate over 65 million new, low-carbon jobs by 2030.

GCAS delegates issued a Call to Global Climate Action, which, inter alia, calls on national governments to urgently step up climate action, including by enhancing their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020. The Call to Action was presented to the UN’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, to illustrate that future generations will be most affected by the current generation’s decisions, who, in turn, asked UNFCCC Executive Secretary and GCAS Co-Chair Patricia Espinosa to deliver the Call to Action to governments at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 73).

This story summarizes some of the commitments and announcements made in the lead up to and during the Summit as they relate to the GCAS five themes: 1) healthy energy systems; 2) inclusive economic growth; 3) sustainable communities; 4) land and ocean stewardship; and 5) transformative climate investments.

Healthy Energy Systems

More than 60 state, regional and city governments and multinational businesses committed to 100% zero emission vehicles through The Climate Group’s ZEV Challenge. Twelve regions and federal states, including Catalonia, Spain, and Washington State, US, representing over 80 million people and over 5% of global GDP, committed to 100% zero emission public fleets by 2030.

The IKEA Group highlighted its efforts in transitioning to electric vehicles in Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Los Angeles (US), New York (US), Paris (France) and Shanghai (China) by 2020 to reach 100% zero emissions for last mile home delivery. [The Climate Group Press Release on IKEA]

Over 30 energy-intensive industry and property actors are setting smart energy and net zero carbon buildings targets through The Climate Group’s EP100 initiative, which brings together energy-smart companies committed to using energy more productively.

Inclusive Economic Growth

To unlock inclusive economic growth, 488 companies from 38 countries adopted emission reduction pathways in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change. In addition, almost 20% of Fortune Global 500 companies have committed to set science-based emissions reduction targets, including, for example, Levi Strauss & Co. approving a 90% emission reduction target in all owned and operated facilities and 40% reductions in its supply chain by 2025. [GCAS Press Release on Summit Conclusion] [Science-Based Targets Press Release] [Science Based Targets Initiative]

Twenty-one companies signed the Step Up Declaration, a new alliance aimed at harnessing the power of emerging technologies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution to help reduce emissions across all economic sectors and ensure that emissions peak by 2020. The Declaration comes in response to a May 2018 challenge issued by former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, Convenor of Mission 2020, urging the technology sector to dramatically “step up” climate action, demonstrate its own progress ahead of 2020, and help the rest of the global economy decarbonize. Initial signatories include Autodesk, Bloomberg, BT, Cisco Systems, Ericsson, Lyft, Uber and WeWork. [Bloomberg Press Release]

Autodesk, Salesforce, Safaricom and Unilever became the first to join a new initiative, Pledge for a Just Transition to Decent Jobs, committing to only buy from renewable energy providers that respect workers’ rights, including social protections and wage guarantees.

Sustainable Communities

Over 70 cities, including Accra (Ghana), Los Angeles, Tokyo (Japan) and Mexico City (Mexico), committed to carbon neutrality by 2050, which will lead to a 2.5% annual reduction in emissions and an avoided 12 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) by 2050. Mayors of over 70 cities reaffirmed the C40 Deadline 2020initiative, a commitment to pursue greater climate ambition and keep the global temperature rise to below 1.5℃ above preindustrial levels.

Other city commitments relate to zero waste and reducing emissions in new and existing buildings. C40 reports that 27 of its member cities have already peaked their carbon emissions. [Advancing toward Zero Waste Declaration] [GCAS Press Release on Zero Waste In Cities and Regions] [World Green Building Council Press Release]

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a package of bills aimed at reducing carbon emissions by, inter alia, increasing the number of zero emission vehicles and charging stations in California. The package includes eight bills on reducing carbon emissions from the transportation sector. Brown also signed a number of other climate-related bills that, among other things, help low-income communities impacted by pollution, advance zero net energy buildings, and increase penalties for trucks with older, more polluting engines. [GCAS Press Release on Bills Signed and the Governor’s Activities during Summit] [State of California Press Release on 100% Renewables Legislation] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Previous California Commitments]

Land and Ocean Stewardship

Over 100 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), businesses, state and local governments, indigenous groups and local communities launched a new alliance to motivate action across the forest, food and land agendas. Over 100 global supply chain actors will work to halt deforestation and native vegetation loss in the Cerrado region, Brazil, while Walmart, Unilever and others committed to the Sabah Restoration Project in the Sugut, Kinabatangan and Tawau river basins in Malaysia.

In addition, nine philanthropic foundations announced they will commit at least US$459 million through 2022 to the protection, restoration and expansion of forests and lands, emphasizing indigenous peoples’ and traditional communities’ collective land rights and resource management. [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on 18 Foundations Calling for Increasing Investments in Forests and Lands to Fight Climate Change]

Transformative Investments

The formal launch of the Investor Agenda brought together nearly 400 investors managing US$32 trillion in assets to focus on accelerating and scaling up financial flows towards climate action. The Agenda focuses on four areas: investment, corporate engagement, investor disclosure and policy advocacy. [Investor Agenda Website] [Investor Agenda Fact Sheet]

Three pension funds from Canada, Denmark and the Netherlands committed to investing in low-carbon climate solutions, while New York City’s pension fund pledged to double its investments in clean energy and climate solutions to US$4 billion over the next three years. [GCAS Press Release on New York City’s Commitment] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on New York City’s Commitments]

Climate Action 100+, a five-year initiative led by investors to engage major emitting companies to improve climate governance, curb emissions and strengthen climate-related financial disclosures, increased its membership and now includes 296 investors who are helping companies lower their emissions, adopt clean energy, improve climate governance and strengthen climate-related disclosures. [SDG Knowledge Hub August 2018 Institutional Finance Update]

Another initiative showcased during the Summit is the Green Bond Pledge, which states that all bonds financing long-term infrastructure and capital projects must address environmental impacts and climate risk, and aims for the issuance of US$1 trillion in green bonds by end 2020. The Pledge is a joint initiative developed and designed by, inter alia, the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI)Mission 2020CeresCitizens Climate Lobby, California Governor’s Office and The Climate Group.

The World Bank, CBI, CERES, ICLEI and others launched the Global Green Bond Partnership (GGBP) to accelerate the issuance of green bonds by subnational entities such as cities, states and regions, corporations and private companies, and financial institutions.

Reports and Other Announcements

Two of GCAS Co-Chairs, California Governor Jerry Brown and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action Michael Bloomberg, launched the report titled, ‘Fulfilling America’s Pledge: How States, Cities, and Businesses Are Leading the United States to a Low-Carbon Future,’ which demonstrates how cities, states and businesses can bring the US within striking distance of its 2025 emissions reduction target in the absence of federal leadership. [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on America’s Pledge]

Released in advance of the Summit, the New Climate Economy report titled, ‘Unlocking the Inclusive Growth Story of the 21st Century,’ finds that transitioning to a low-carbon economy could, inter alia: result in US$26 trillion in economic benefits worldwide through 2030; generate over 65 million new low-carbon jobs in 2030; and avoid over 700,000 premature deaths from air pollution in 2030.

The ‘Exponential Climate Action Roadmap’ shows the potential for all sectors of the global economy to halve emissions by 2030, with stronger policies, the digital revolution and greater climate leadership required to accelerate such economic transformation. [GCAS Press Release on the Roadmap]

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP, or UN Environment) launched an excerpt from its upcoming 2018 Emissions Gap Report, which focuses on climate action by non-state actors such as cities, regions, business and investors. [Pre-release of UN Environment Emissions Gap Report Chapter on Non-State Actors]

Two Talanoa Dialogue events convened on transitioning to a net zero emissions society, and financing the resilience and a net-zero economy. They aimed to generate momentum and support, and seek input from all stakeholders in advance of the Katowice Climate Change Conference, where the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement are expected to be adopted. [GCAS Press Release on Talanoa Dialogue] [UNFCCC News Story] [Video of Event]

During the GCAS closing plenary on 14 September, Governor Brown announced that California will develop its own climate change pollutant monitoring satellite in partnership with the earth-imaging company Planet Labs. [State of California Press Release on Satellite]

The Summit’s 500+ commitments will be registered on the UNFCCC’s revamped Climate Action Portal. [UNFCCC Press Release on Climate Action Portal] [Full List of GCAS-related Announcements] [GCAS Press Release at Conclusion of Summit] [Call to Action for a 100% Renewable World] [Call to Action Video] [UNFCCC Press Release on New Climate Commitments] [UN Environment Press Release]

By Leila Mead

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