Our key takeaway: Non-state actors, i.e. companies, investors and other private sector entities, have a critical role to play in cutting emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels - which is what is needed to meet the Paris Agreement 1.5°C goal. The UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, in their latest Yearbook of Global Climate Action, highlight case studies and progress in private sector leadership. However: “much more needs to happen. We are running out of time.” What we need now is radical cooperation. Do you like the sound of an ambition loop? This is where policy can move finance towards new technologies that are needed for the transition, which in turn enables the private sector to innovate, which in turn increases the take-up among all sectors of society, which in turn enables more ambitious policies to be introduced. We like the sound of this loop. Let’s make the loop.
The UN Climate Change High-Level Champions have published the ‘Yearbook of Global Climate Action’ (November 2022), the sixth of the series, which “reviews the state and scope of global climate action in 2022”:
- Devastating effects ahead: The report delves into where we are at present when it comes to climate change. The IPCC has said that “in order to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions need to be cut by 43 per cent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. However, the latest NDC Synthesis Report revealed that the pledges of 193 Parties under the Paris Agreement will reduce emissions by only 0.3 per cent by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. Another estimate shows that we are heading to a warming of 2.4°C with 2030 targets and even higher, 2.7°C, with current policies.” The Champions note that “[t]his temperature rise would have a devastating effect on every part of the planet.” They reiterate findings from the IPCC’s February 2022 report, to state that “[t]o avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure, ambitious, accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change while making rapid, deep cuts in GHG emissions.”
- The importance of non-state actors: The champions note that “[a]round the world, non-State actors are taking climate action in ever greater numbers. Race to Resilience partners are delivering resilience action in more than 100 countries, with projects that range from the leveraging of financial resources and nature-based solutions to the setting up of early warning systems. More than 11,000 non-State actors – including businesses, financial institutions and cities – from 116 countries have now committed Race to Zero’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Global Climate Action Portal (GCAP) has seen 38 per cent more participants since COP 26, while nearly 90 per cent more companies have registered in the past year.” The report delves into a range of climate action projects that are helping us move forward: a blended finance fund that aims to increase the resilience of 500,000 people living in vulnerable landscapes by 2030; an initiative helping increase access to clean water in cities across Africa; a project restoring coastlines in Indonesia; a simulator that visualizes the potential of rooftop solar power in local homes; sustainable, eco-friendly businesses being set up in the Philippines and Belize; and green, climate-adaptive homes being built in some of Bangladesh’s most vulnerable areas.
- Radical cooperation needed: The Champions underscore that although climate action is happening, “much more needs to happen. We are running out of time.” “Radical cooperation is key so that governments and other stakeholders can pivot towards a net-zero resilient society.” The Champions underscore that “[u]ltimately, when governments and non-State actors work together, they create an ambition loop: a virtuous circle where policy moves finance towards new technologies, enabling the private sector to innovate, and increasing take-up among all sectors of society, which in turn enables more ambitious policies to be introduced.” The report delves into the work under the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, which is set up to support that endeavour. At the end of the day, the Champions highlight five priorities ahead: “1) adopt a holistic approach when addressing climate change; 2) shift from pledges and promises into implementation and investments; 3) regionalize climate action; 4) localize climate action; and 5) mobilize climate finance.”