“With each passing day, the climate challenge grows”: Academic, business and political leaders appeal for zero-carbon world

Author:
Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 4 minutes
9 May 2016

NEW YORK: Just weeks after the Paris Agreement signing ceremony in New York, political and business leaders converged at the Climate Action Summit in Washington to collaborate on accelerating the shift toward a global low carbon economy.

More than 700 global leaders from business, governments, academia and civil society spent the two-day event sharing their individual and collective climate efforts, discussing how they can work together to deliver effective action before the Paris Agreement comes into force in 2020.

Making the Summit’s opening remarks, Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group emphasized the need for urgency from all actors before 2020: “Today, we have an unprecedented political commitment to tackle climate change. What we need to do now is build unprecedented political action to fulfill those promises. We cannot afford to lose momentum, because with each passing day, the climate challenge grows.”

Nigel Topping, Chief Executive Officer, We Mean Business, was one of the co-hosts of the international event. Speaking on the panel ‘What’s new and what to expect on climate action in 2016’, he said: “The world is approaching a tipping point, with renewable energy taking over from the fossil fuel industry. We now need to come together to give it a last push to help deliver the zero-carbon economy that world leaders agreed to at the recent UN climate talks in Paris.”

Events such as the Climate Action Summit are crucial to demonstrating progress toward curbing global temperature rise, says Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group: “It is integral we maintain momentum this year, not only in action to deliver the Paris Agreement, which we are seeing across the work of our We Mean Business partners and our States & Regions activity, but also to maintain public momentum.

“The next key moment for business leaders and investors will be the Business & Climate Summit, held in London this June, where the real business action continues – now in the context of economic opportunity created by Paris.”

CLIMATE COLLABORATION

Panel sessions at the Climate Action Summit focused on a range of clean energy related topics including electric vehicles and energy efficiency, where powerful business leaders nodded to the success of our campaign RE100, which supports corporates in their journey to 100% renewables.

Influential policymakers also highlighted the value of business and government collaboration to achieve bold climate targets, in particular through the work of The Climate Group’s States & Regions Alliance, with sub-national leaders including Sophie Howe, ‎Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, applauding the work of the Alliance.

Deborah Markowitz, Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, underlined the critical role that sub-national governments play in tackling climate change while protecting their citizens: “States and regions are truly laboratories of solutions,” she said at the event, “which will be necessary to scale up, and reach global goals.”

The North American state of Vermont is at the forefront of the fight against climate change, with an ambitious target of achieving 90% renewable energy by 2050. The state is also part of the Under2MOU program, of which The Climate Group is Secretariat, to collaborate with other forward-thinking state and regional governments.

Vermont is one of 44 governments from around the world that report to the Compact of States and Regions – the first dedicated global reporting mechanism for state and regional governments to showcase and analyze their climate goals. The Compact has just opened its 2016 reporting period, with a deadline for governments to report their climate data by July 15, 2016.

But while sub-national governments can lead the way, all eyes remain on national governments' commitments. Closing the Climate Action Summit on an encouraging note, Gina McCarthy of the US Environmental Protection Agency boldly affirmed that the US is on track to meet its ambitious climate targets.

by Ilario D'Amato

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