What Was Under the Climate Summit Christmas Tree?
January 3, 2019
Each year the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) meets to advance global cooperation to address the many global challenges related to climate change. As per usual, at the summit that took place at the end of 2018 (COP24), the parties to the agreement nearly ran out of time to reach a final agreement but managed to yield an important outcome in the end.
The outcome was a rulebook for how countries will live up to their commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Also, in line with tradition, these annual meetings are accompanied by announcements and pledges to round out the offerings of government climate action with that of civil society, investors, companies, and smaller subsets of government actors.
We have attempted to collect some of the side offerings, initiatives, and announcements that occurred shortly before or during the two weeks of meetings. We leave it to you to assess the ambitions, viability, utility, or significance of these actions and merely point out that they are symbols of political, corporate, or societal will to take action on this important issue. Taken together, over time, it is part of the patchwork of activities, actions, and sentiment that have given rise to greater awareness and recognition of the challenges we face.
COP24 Initiatives Launched in Katowice, Poland
The declaration is in line with Polish president’s opening plenary speech, in which he stated, “there is no plan today to fully give up on coal” and emphasized the need for a just transition of workers in fossil fuel jobs. The job discussion is a key aspect in the transition to a low-carbon future; coal miners are often used as an example of the social impacts of moving away from fossil fuels.
- Driving Change Together – Katowice Partnership for Electromobility: Jointly announced by Poland and the United Kingdom, the partnership aims to address greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector through the promotion of electromobility and clean transportation. Emphasis is on the commitment to zero emission transportation, smart infrastructure networks to support market growth, and innovative and technological advancements. It is a platform for municipal, regional, and national governments and NGOs to facilitate exchanges and foster new initiatives.
Signatories of the declaration include 42 countries, 4 regions/cities, and 18 intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and NGOs. Poland has announced the allocation of roughly $3 billion to electromobility.
- Solidarity and Just Transition Silesia Declaration: This effort supports a just transition of the workforce and the creation of “decent work and quality jobs” in the transition to low-greenhouse gas and climate-resilient development.
The declaration emphasizes employment opportunities and the process of social dialogue to promote workers’ rights in strategy development. Signatories of this declaration include 54 leaders and parties.
Climate Finance Announcements
- Germany has doubled its contribution to €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) to the Green Climate Fund, and Norway has pledged $516 million by 2020.
- The United Kingdom pledged a £100 million ($128 million) increase in funding for renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa and £170 million ($217 million) to support creation of a “net zero” cluster of heavy industry in the United Kingdom by 2040.
- Five major banks have announced portfolio alignment with the Paris Agreement: ING, BBVA, BNP Paribas, Société Générale, and Standard Chartered. Combined, these banks have a loan book of €2.4 trillion ($2.8 trillion).
- The World Bank Group will double its five-year investments to $200 billion. Efforts in the energy sector include enabling infrastructure for 36 GW of renewable energy and support energy efficiency.
- Four hundred and fifteen investors managing over $32 trillion stressed carbon pricing, fossil fuel subsidies and thermal power plant phase-out by set deadlines.
- The U.S. Alliance for Sustainable Finance was announced by Bloomberg at Sustainable Finance Week. The 15 founding members include Citi, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.
- Alliance for Development and Climate was announced by Germany. The alliance raises capital to finance carbon dioxide offset projects in developing countries. This was announced prior to COP24.
- Green Bank Network closed on transactions mobilizing $41 billion in public and private capital for green infrastructure (clean energy) projects. This was announced prior to COP 24.
Carbon Emissions Announcements
- Maersk plans to cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.
- Shell is planning to link short-term carbon targets to executive pay from 2020 and aims to reduce net carbon footprint by 50 percent by 2050.
- ConocoPhillips announced $2 million over two years to support Americans for Carbon Dividends, an advocacy group for carbon tax.
- Six new members joined Powering Past Coal Alliance at COP 24: Israel, Senegal, City of Sydney, City of Melbourne, Scottish government, and Scottish Power.
Senegal will increase its renewable energy sources in installed electricity generation capacity to 30 percent by 2019.
Both Melbourne and Sydney have a target of 100 percent renewable energy. Sydney has also set a net-zero carbon building target by 2050. Melbourne has two more energy-related initiatives: zero-emissions buildings and precincts, zero-emission transportation.
The Scottish government joined to continue support for global efforts. Scotland’s last coal power station closed in 2016, and any new coal application must have carbon capture and storage technology.
Scottish Power is shifting from fossil fuel generation to wind power, which was announced in October 2018.
Sarah Ladislaw is senior vice president and director of the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Nicole Huang is an intern with the CSIS Energy and National Security Program.
Commentary is produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).
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