New York, Sep 24 (IANS) Major announcements by governments including India, France, Germany, the UK along with private sector leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit boosted climate action momentum, and demonstrated growing recognition that the pace of climate action must be rapidly accelerated.
A total of 77 countries on Monday committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, while 70 countries announced that they will either boost their national action plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing so.
India pledged to increase renewable energy capacity to 175GW by 2022 and committed to further increasing to 450GW, and announced that 80 countries have joined the International Solar Alliance.
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.
Many countries and over 100 cities — including many of the world’s largest — announced significant and concrete new steps to combat the climate crisis.
Many smaller countries, including the Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries, were among those who made the biggest pledges, despite the fact they have contributed the least to the problem.
Speaking at the closing segment, UN Secretary-General AntAnio Guterres 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. We need all financial institutions, public and private, to choose, once and for all, the green economy.”
Youth leaders, including the 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, drove home the urgency of greater action by leaders, and their determination to hold leaders to account.
The major announcements made on Monday included France’s commitment that it would not enter into any trade agreement with countries that have policies counter to the Paris Agreement.
Germany committed to carbon neutrality by 2050.
Twelve countries made financial commitments to the Green Climate Fund, the official financial mechanism to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.
This is in addition to recent announcements from Norway, Germany, France and Britain that have recently doubled their present contributions.
Britain made a major additional contribution, doubling its overall international climate finance to L11.6 billion from 2020 to 2025.
China said it would cut emissions by over 12 billion tonnes annually, and would pursue a path of high quality growth and low carbon development.
The European Union announced at least 25 per cent of the bloc’s next budget will be devoted to climate-related activities.
The Russian Federation announced that they will ratify the Paris Agreement, bringing the total number of countries that have joined the Agreement to 187.
Pakistan said it would plant more than 10 billion trees over the next five years.
A group of the world’s largest asset-owners — responsible for directing more than $2 trillion in investments — committed to move to carbon-neutral investment portfolios by 2050.
A total of 87 major companies with a combined market capitalization of over $2.3 trillion pledged to reduce emissions and align their businesses with what scientists say is needed to limit the worst impacts of climate change — a 1.5 degrees Celsius future.
As many as 130 banks — one-third of the global banking sector — signed up to align their businesses with the Paris Agreement goals.
On transitioning from brown to green energy, philanthropist Michael Bloomberg will increase the funding and geographic spread of his coal phase out efforts to 30 countries.
His work has already helped to close 297 out of 530 coal plants in the US.
Countries, including France and New Zealand, announced that they will not allow oil or gas exploration on their lands or off-shore waters.
Heads of state from Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia were among those who announced that they would work to phase out coal.
South Korea announced it would shut down four coal-fired power plants, and six more will be closed by 2022, as well as the doubling of its contribution to the Green Climate Fund.
The new initiatives announced have been designed to be scaled-up to deliver impact at the global scale needed.