Spotlight: UN summit delivers major step up in climate ambition, action

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-25 02:09:09|Editor: ZX
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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Major announcements by government and 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.

At the one-day event Monday, 77 countries committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, while 70 countries announced they would either boost their national action plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing so, a UN press release said.

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 U.S. dollars in assets and leading companies with combined value also over 2 trillion dollars.

Many countries and over 100 cities, including many of the world's largest, announced significant and concrete new steps to combat the climate crisis, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, adding many smaller countries, including small island developing states and least developed countries, were among those who made the biggest pledges, despite the fact that they have contributed the least to the problem.

Guterres, in closing the summit, 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," he said.

According to a list compiled by the UN, China, France, Germany, Britain and India are among those making major announcements.

China has set a goal of achieving nature's mitigation potential of cutting 10 to 12 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year, and pledged to continue to promote joint building of a green Belt and Road, said President Xi Jinping's special representative, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

France announced that it would not enter into any trade agreement with countries that have policies counter to the Paris Agreement, while Germany committed to carbon neutrality by 2050.

A total of 12 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.

Britain made a major additional contribution, doubling its overall international climate finance to 11.6 billion pound (14.5 billion U.S. dollars) for the period from 2020 to 2025.

India pledged to increase renewable energy capacity to 175 gigawatts by 2022 and committed itself to a further increase to 450 gigawatts.

The European Union announced at least 25 percent of the next EU budget would be devoted to climate-related activities.

Russia announced that it would 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.

On transitioning from brown to green energy, Michael Bloomberg, the secretary-general's special envoy for climate action, will increase the funding and geographic spread of his coal phaseout efforts to 30 countries. Already, his work has helped to close 297 out of 530 coal plants in the United States, said the press release.

Some countries, including France and New Zealand, announced that they would not allow oil or gas exploration on their lands or off-shore waters.

The heads of state from Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovakia are among those that announced that they would work to phase out coal.

The Republic of Korea announced its plan to shut down four coal-fired power plants, with six more to be closed by 2022, as well as the doubling of its contribution to the Green Climate Fund.

With regard to scaling up financing and unlocking barriers to funds, many countries announced new contributions to the Green Climate Fund.

Further, the Climate Investment Platform was officially announced Monday. It will seek to directly mobilize 1 trillion dollars in clean energy investment by 2025 in 20 least developed countries in its first year.

Guterres urged governments, businesses and people across the globe to join the initiatives announced at the summit, and vowed to keep pushing for greater ambition and action.

The United Nations itself also made commitment at the meeting. The world body's pension fund, which manages 68 billion dollars in assets, announced that it would divest from investments in publicly traded companies in the coal energy sector and would not make any new investments in it.