Tag Archives: COP 21 UN Climate change conference

The Transformation to a More Sustainable and Just World Begins Now

Mogens Lykketoft:"The transformation to a more sustainable and just world begins now"Ask anyone for their abiding memory of 2015 and they will most likely recall a negative one.

Some will recall the horrifying stories of death and destruction caused by conflicts around the world, most notably in Syria where over 250,000 people have lost their lives and almost 11 million people have been displaced. Others will recall a sense of grief, fear and anger after violent extremists attacked, tortured, kidnapped and executed innocent civilians around the world. Others still might recall a simple but disturbing fact they heard in passing – that 2015 was the hottest year on record or that over 15,000 children continue to die annually, mostly from preventable diseases.

Yet, despite all of this, 2015 was also a year of progress and breakthroughs.

2015 was the year, for instance, when health workers and public officials supported by the international community brought an end to the Ebola Epidemic in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. It was the year when the UN Millennium Development Goals expired, having helped to reduce the number of people living in extreme poverty globally by over 50%. And it was the year when talks not tanks led to improvements in Cuba/US relations, an Iranian nuclear deal, a breakthrough in peace-talks in Colombia, transition in the Central African Republic. And most recently, a roadmap on resolving the Syria conflict was agreed on in the Security Council; the hope is that finally we can begin to contain this horrible humanitarian disaster.

Each of these is a great achievement in its own right. But it was the adoption, by more than 193 members of the United Nations, of three major international agreements that gives me greatest hope for the future.

In September, world leaders descended on New York to embrace a new compact for people and planet anchored in 17 Sustainable Development Goals known as the SDGs. In Addis Ababa, just two months earlier, those same leaders committed to a new global framework on finance, capacity building, technology, trade, debt and other issues to support the realization of these goals. And in Paris earlier this month, after years of disappointment, they overcame divisions and agreed on how to avert catastrophic climate change while advancing human progress.

Through these agreements, governments everywhere have committed to advance three critical transformations in our world. First, they committed to address the root causes of poverty and hunger and to advance human development and gender equality everywhere. Second, they agreed to promote shared prosperity while transitioning to a low-carbon climate-resilient economy and protecting our natural environment. And, third, they agreed to improve governance at all levels so as to bring about more peaceful, just and inclusive societies.

Skeptics will of course question both the ability and commitment of governments to translate these agreements into real change. But not only do I believe that we can succeed, I truly believe that we will succeed.

Let me explain why.

After 50 years in politics, I have never seen negotiations that were more deliberative or more inclusive than those that gave rise to these agreements. The result is that these agreements have real political buy-in at the highest possible level. They have also helped create a global movement for positive change, involving civil society, young people, private companies and more, that will be with us every step of the way over the next fifteen years. And from the Millennium Development Goals to reduction in the price of renewables, many governments and many companies are demonstrating that the change we need is not only possible but already happening.

In 2016, however, we must build on this momentum and secure early implementation. To do so, we need action from all actors. As President of the United Nations General Assembly, this is my top priority.

Governments, for example, must identify and plan for the changes they need to undertake to reach these new Goals. They must invest in essential services so that all people can fulfill their potential. They must create an enabling legal and policy framework that encourages more responsible consumption and increased investment in sustainable infrastructure. And they must advance more transparent and inclusive governance so that everyone pays their fair share, people live in freedom and security, and societies become more cohesive and more equal.

At the international level, we need a United Nations system that is ready to give countries the support they need. We also need to ensure that exclusive economic decision-making forums, such as the World Bank and IMF, the G20 etc, become more aligned with this new Agenda.

In the area of peace and security, we need changes at the UN so that we can become better at preventing conflicts and protecting human rights before it is too late.

The Sustainable Development Goals also demand action from the private sector. They must align their corporate activities with the essence of the new Goals. They can turn their innovation towards finding SDG solutions and partner with governments and other key actors to support and finance implementation. This includes the global finance industry which must now embrace the shift. Governments must ensure a framework of regulation and taxation for the private sector that makes it obvious that green investment is not just the best for the environment and the future of mankind, but the best for business too.

Finally, change will not happen without action and pressure from civil society and ordinary people everywhere. Non-governmental organizations need to hold governments to account for the commitments they have made in 2015. Philanthropic foundations need to support causes that are aligned with the SDGs and work more effectively with governments and other actors. And ordinary citizens, young people, and others can use the incredible explosion in information technology in recent years to become key drivers of implementation.

If 2015 was a year of incredible breakthroughs, then 2016 must mark the moment when all of us begin to deliver, when we begin to make the transformation needed to a more sustainable and just world.

Find out more:
http://www.un.org/pga/70/
http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/

Historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change

COP21_DSC7501An historic agreement to combat climate change and unleash actions and investment towards a low carbon, resilient and sustainable future was agreed by 195 nations in Paris today.

The Paris Agreement for the first time brings all nations into a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.

The universal agreement’s main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The 1.5 degree Celsius limit is a significantly safer defense line against the worst impacts of a changing climate.

Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability to deal with the impacts of climate change.  

To reach these ambitious and important goals, appropriate financial flows will be put in place, thus making stronger action by developing countries and the most vulnerable possible, in line with their own national objectives.

“The Paris Agreement allows each delegation and group of countries to go back home with their heads held high. Our collective effort is worth more than the sum of our individual effort. Our responsibility to history is immense” said Laurent Fabius, President of the COP 21 UN Climate change conference and French Foreign Minister.

The minister, his emotion showing as delegates started to rise to their feet, brought the final gavel down on the agreement to open and sustained acclamation across the plenary hall.

French President Francois Hollande told the assembled delegates: “You’ve done it, reached an ambitious agreement, a binding agreement, a universal agreement. Never will I be able to express more gratitude to a conference. You can be proud to stand before your children and grandchildren.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “We have entered a new era of global cooperation on one of the most complex issues ever to confront humanity. For the first time, every country in the world has pledged to curb emissions, strengthen resilience and join in common cause to take common climate action. This is a resounding success for multilateralism.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said: “One planet, one chance to get it right and we did it in Paris. We have made history together. It is an agreement of conviction. It is an agreement of solidarity with the most vulnerable. It is an agreement of long-term vision, for we have to turn this agreement into an engine of safe growth.”

“Successive generations will, I am sure, mark the 12 December 2015 as a date when cooperation, vision, responsibility, a shared humanity and a care for our world took centre stage,” she said.

“I would like to acknowledge the determination, diplomacy and effort that the Government of France have injected into this remarkable moment and the governments that have supported our shared ambition since COP 17 in Durban, South Africa,” she said.

Agreement Captures Essential Elements to Drive Action Forward

The Paris Agreement and the outcomes of the UN climate conference (COP21) cover all the crucial areas identified as essential for a landmark conclusion:

  • Mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal
  • A transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action
  • Adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts
  • Loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts
  • Support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures

As well as setting a long-term direction, countries will peak their emissions as soon as possible and continue to submit national climate action plans that detail their future objectives to address climate change.

This builds on the momentum of the unprecedented effort which has so far seen 188 countries contribute climate action plans to the new agreement, which will dramatically slow the pace of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The new agreement also establishes the principle that future national plans will be no less ambitious than existing ones, which means these 188 climate action plans provide a firm floor and foundation for higher ambition.

Countries will submit updated climate plans – called nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – every five years, thereby steadily increasing their ambition in the long-term.  

Climate action will also be taken forward in the period before 2020. Countries will continue to engage in a process on mitigation opportunities and will put added focus on adaptation opportunities. Additionally, they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020

This is further underlined by the agreement’s robust transparency and accounting system, which will provide clarity on countries’ implementation efforts, with flexibility for countries’ differing capabilities.

“The Paris Agreement also sends a powerful signal to the many thousands of cities, regions, businesses and citizens across the world already committed to climate action that their vision of a low-carbon, resilient future is now the chosen course for humanity this century,” said Ms Figueres.

Agreement Strengthens Support to Developing Nations

The Paris Agreement underwrites adequate support to developing nations and establishes a global goal to significantly strengthen adaptation to climate change through support and international cooperation.

The already broad and ambitious efforts of developing countries to build their own clean, climate-resilient futures will be supported by scaled-up finance from developed countries and voluntary contributions from other countries.

Governments decided that they will work to define a clear roadmap on ratcheting up climate finance to USD 100 billion by 2020 while also before 2025 setting a new goal on the provision of finance from the USD 100 billion floor.

Ms. Figueres said. “We have seen unparalleled announcements of financial support for both mitigation and adaptation from a multitude of sources both before and during the COP. Under the Paris Agreement, the provision of finance from multiple sources will clearly be taken to a new level, which is of critical importance to the most vulnerable.”

International cooperation on climate-safe technologies and building capacity in the developing world to address climate change are also significantly strengthened under the new agreement.

Signing the Paris Agreement

Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement by the COP (Conference of the Parties), it will be deposited at the UN in New York and be opened for one year for signature on 22 April 2016–Mother Earth Day.

The agreement will enter into force after 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.

Cities and Provinces to Companies and Investors Aligning

Today’s landmark agreement was reached against the backdrop of a remarkable groundswell of climate action by cities and regions, business and civil society.

During the week of events under the Lima to Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) at the COP, the groundswell of action by these stakeholders successfully demonstrated the powerful and irreversible course of existing climate action.

Countries at COP 21 recognised the enormous importance of these initiatives, calling for the continuation and scaling up of these actions which are entered on the UN-hosted NAZCA portal as an essential part in the rapid implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The LPAA and NAZCA have already captured climate actions and pledges covering:

  • Over 7,000 cities, including the most vulnerable to climate change, from over 100 countries with a combined population with one and a quarter billion people and around 32% of global GDP.
  • Sub-national states and regions comprising one fifth of total global land area and combined GDP of $12.5 trillion.
  • Over 5,000 companies from more than 90 countries that together represent the majority of global market capitalisation and over $38 trillion in revenue.
  • Nearly 500 investors with total assets under management of over $25 trillion

Christiana Figueres said: “The recognition of actions by businesses, investors, cities and regions is one of the key outcomes of COP 21. Together with the LPAA, the groundswell of action shows that the world is on an inevitable path toward a properly sustainable, low-carbon world.”

More Details on the Paris Agreement

  • All countries will submit adaptation communications, in which they may detail their adaptation priorities, support needs and plans. Developing countries will receive increased support for adaptation actions and the adequacy of this support will be assessed.
  • The existing Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage will be significantly strengthened.
  • The agreement includes a robust transparency framework for both action and support. The framework will provide clarity on countries’ mitigation and adaptation actions, as well as the provision of support. At the same time, it recognizes that Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States have special circumstances. 
  • The agreement includes a global stocktake starting in 2023 to assess the collective progress towards the goals of the agreement. The stocktake will be done every five years.
  • The agreement includes a compliance mechanism, overseen by a committee of experts that operates in a non-punitive way.

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