UN Secretary-General warned leaders not to come to his landmark Climate Action Summit with beautiful speeches, but to present concrete plans for cutting harmful greenhouse gas emissions, and strategies for carbon neutrality by 2050. Many countries committed to upping their game, announcing emission cuts and other measures to fight climate change. France, for example, announced that it will no longer enter into trade agreements with countries whose policies run counter to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement; Germany committed to carbon neutrality by 2050; and China said that it will cut emissions by over 12 billion tons annually. Several countries signaled a move away from fossil fuels, with pledges to ban oil or gas exploration on their lands or off-shore waters, and the phasing out of coal as an energy source. The private sector had a chance to demonstrate how it can bring about real positive change, when 87 major companies – with a combined market capitalization of over US$2.3 trillion, over 4.2 million employees, and annual direct emissions equivalent to 73 coal-fired power plants – committed to setting climate targets across their operations. In the finance sector, some of the world’s largest pension funds and insurers, responsible for directing more than $2 trillion in investments, have joined together to form the Asset Owner Alliance, which committed to moving their portfolios to carbon-neutral investments by 2050. A total of 2000 cities committed to placing climate risk at the center of their decision-making, planning and investments: this includes launching 1,000 bankable, climate-smart urban projects, and creating innovative financing mechanisms. A full list of the many initiatives announced during the Climate Action Summit can be found here.
By UN News. September 23, 2019.