Stakeholders’ climate action key to meeting Paris Agreement goals, new report finds

Cities, regions, citizens' energy cooperatives and businesses have become key contributors to climate mitigation, adaptation and finance efforts. [Bernhard Staehli]

By 2030, global greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by up to an additional 2.2 Gigatonne CO2 a year compared to what would be achieved through current national policies, if individual commitments from nearly 8,000 non-state actors are fully implemented, said a new report published on Thursday (30 August).

The potential reduction equals roughly double the amount of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2016. This underlines the idea that local action on climate change is essential if major economies are to meet their Paris Agreement climate goals, said the report, authored by experts from Data Driven Yale, NewClimate Institute, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and CDP.

This additional impact would result in global greenhouse gases emissions of between 54.5 – 57.1 Gigatonne CO2 a year in 2030, the report calculated.

“Both individual commitments made by regions, states, cities, businesses and international cooperative initiatives have the potential to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions significantly beyond what is currently expected from national policies alone, assuming their commitments and goals are fully implemented and accounting for overlap between actors,” it stressed.

The report evaluates individual climate mitigation commitments made by nearly 6,000 cities, states, and regions representing 7% of the global population and more than 2,000 companies with a combined revenue of over $21 trillion – nearly the size of the U.S. economy.

It is published ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit to be held in San Francisco on 12-14 September, which convenes city, region, business and civil society representatives from around the world to discuss their contributions to global climate action.

This event is seen as a key moment on the road to this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP24), which will be presided and hosted by Poland (3-14 December), because stakeholders have proven essential to putting in place effective climate reduction plans while some nation states show too little or no climate ambition.

Merkel speaks out against more ambitious EU climate targets

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke against setting more ambitious EU climate targets on Sunday (26 August) but supported the idea of a transition towards a decarbonised transport sector. 

“Cities, regions and businesses have become key contributors to (climate) mitigation, adaptation and finance efforts. These actors are pledging a range of actions, from directly reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions footprints to building capacity for climate adaptation and resilience to providing private finance,” the report read.

In the United States, where President Trump has announced his intent to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the full implementation of the reported and quantified individual city, region, and company commitments could provide at least half (660 and 810 MtCO2e/year in 2030) of the emissions reductions needed to meet America’s Paris pledge, the report explained.

Angry Europe vows to defend climate pact after Trump pullout

European leaders reacted with anger and defiance after President Donald Trump yesterday (1 June) announced the United States, the world’s second biggest carbon emitter, was quitting the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Climate urgency

The report followed the highly commented study published on 6 August by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that shows there is a risk of the planet entering what scientists call ‘Hothouse Earth’ conditions.

The report highlights that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, there is a risk of the ‘Hothouse Earth’ conditions.

A ‘Hothouse Earth’ climate will in the long term stabilise at a global average of 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures, with sea level 10-60 m higher than today. Maximising the chances of avoiding that requires not only a reduction of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions but also enhancement and/or creation of new biological carbon stores.

The authors conclude it is now urgent to greatly accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon world economy.

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