14th December 2017
“The message is simple: those who fail to bet on a green economy will be living in a grey future.”
Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General
Throughout the year, we have witnessed the efforts, achievements, and setbacks in the fight against climate change. Since the announcement of the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the international community has doubled its efforts to meet the Paris commitments, encouraging private investors to fill the annual gap of an estimated USD $210 billion.
Two years to the day after the historic settlement of the Paris Agreement, the world is still working to achieve concrete action. Emmanuel Macron (President of France), Jim Yong Kim (President of the World Bank) and António Guterres (Secretary-General of the United Nations) recently summoned an ecological emergency summit by calling together international leaders and committed citizens from around the world for the One Planet Summit (OPS) in Paris.
The summit focused on finding viable ways and tangible financial responses to meet climate goals without the participation of the U.S., the biggest carbon polluter in the world and one of the most important economic contributors to the Paris Agreement. OPS has the mission of bringing together actors from the public and private sector from around the world to find the right solutions to innovate and accelerate current climate action. The One Planet Summit developed three principal aims focused on adaptation, mitigation, and mobilization:
Source: One Planet Summit (2017)
These aims reflect the efforts Europe has been working on to fight climate change. The European Commission presented its new Action Plan for the Planet at the Summit, which estimates an additional expense of USD $210 billion in annual investment to limit the increase in temperature to below two degrees Celsius (3.6º F) in the continent for the next couple of decades. The plan includes 10 transformative initiatives for a modern economy and a fair society:
Source: European Commission (2017)
. This plan is just an overview of how Europe is taking the lead to defeat climate change through the effective administration of its financial system, its emission reduction commitment and the industrial transition to green industries. All of these efforts are making it possible for the EU to significantly overachieve its 2020 climate target and move beyond its cautious offer for 2030. Now, the new European target is set on a 40% carbon emissions cut and a boost to renewable energy with the goal of at least 27% renewable energy in the whole union.
The rest of the world has the responsibility to protect the environment by replicating European green policies and adapting them to their realities to win the war against climate change. Accordingly with the OPS, replicating the European model to tackle environmental detriment will allow the world to find new means of financing adapted ways of life and inevitable transformations, which will speed up the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure climate issues are central to the finance sector.
The summit successfully secured some major financial commitments that will contribute to securing the benefits and health of nature and the environment:
- The Gates Foundation announced that it would pledge USD $300 million over the next three years to support farmers in Africa and Asia who are struggling with various consequences of climate change, such as diminished soil fertility, extreme weather, and crop pests.
- AXA, the world’s third-largest insurance company, announced further reductions of coal investments by an additional USD $2.8 billion.
- The World Bank said it would stop financing projects involving upstream oil and gas starting 2019; the investments of these projects were valued at USD $3bn in 2016. Similarly, the World Bank is on target to direct 28% of its global funding to climate action by the end of the decade.
- The Hewlett Foundation pledged to donate USD $600 million to nonprofits working on climate change issues over the next five years.
The international community’s commitments are now working not only for profit but also for the future of the people and the planet. A broader range of financial contributions from all over the world is needed to achieve our green and sustainable goals. We need to invest in the right solutions focusing on climate action and sustainable development to find global measures to address the challenges we face. The year may be ending, but the efforts for a sustainable future are just beginning.