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Climate Ambition Summit 2020

Volume 686: debated on Tuesday 15 December 2020

On 12 December, the United Kingdom co-convened the Climate Ambition summit with the United Nations and France, and in partnership with Chile and Italy, on the fifth anniversary of the Paris agreement. The summit marked a major milestone on the road to the crucial UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow next November.

Countries representing around 65% of global carbon dioxide emissions, and around 70% of the world’s economy have now committed to reaching net zero or carbon neutrality. This includes announcements made in the run-up to and at the Climate Ambition summit and those expected early next year. This follows a huge diplomatic and cross-government effort to raise ambition.

75 leaders from all continents outlined over 90 commitments at the summit demonstrating that climate change is a global priority despite the shared challenges of covid-19. There is mutual understanding that the science is clear. Climate destruction is accelerating, and there remains much more to do as a global community to keep the global temperature rise to 1.5C.

The UK met commitments covering the three pillars of the Paris agreement. We formally communicated our nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the UNFCCC which commits the UK to a new ambitious target to reduce the UK’s emissions by at least 68% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels, published our first adaptation communication and reiterated our commitment to providing £11.6 billion in climate finance. A copy of the NDC has been laid in Parliament.

The Prime Minister announced that the UK will no longer provide any new direct financial or promotional support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas, other than in exceptional circumstances, as soon as possible, and align its support to enable clean energy exports. The consultation, which is now live, will seek views on how to further enable an accelerated growth in UK clean energy exports, and on the impacts of the timing of implementation of the policy shift.

The Prime Minister also highlighted the 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution announced last month which spans clean energy, buildings, transport, nature and innovative technologies and will mobilise £12 billion of Government investment to unlock three times as much private sector investment by 2030; support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs; and level-up regions across the UK.

44 countries and the EU announced headlines of their more ambitious NDCs. This includes a number of countries who have made significant increases such as Colombia, Jamaica, Peru and the EU, as well as the UK.

24 countries have now announced new commitments, strategies or plans to reach net zero or carbon neutrality with recent commitments from China, Japan, South Korea and Argentina establishing a clear benchmark for G20 countries.

The summit heard from the poorest and most vulnerable countries, who are already feeling the impacts of climate change. Barbados, Ethiopia and Maldives set themselves an aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, with the right support. Meanwhile, Fiji, Malawi, Nauru and Nepal and others are aiming for 2050.

20 new or forthcoming adaptation commitments including in national adaptation plans, adaptation communications and NDCs. Countries such as Ethiopia are leading the way, by taking a whole-of-economy approach that protects people and nature, and Suriname is stepping up its implementation of its national adaptation plan. Developed countries, including the UK, Netherlands and Spain, are also upping their adaptation efforts, showing no country is immune to the impacts of climate change. The summit also saw the launch of the Race to Resilience, setting a goal of safeguarding 4 billion people vulnerable to climate risks by 2030 (more detail below).

A number of leaders set out concrete policies to implement their economy-wide targets. Pakistan announced that it will have no more power based on coal, while Israel has committed to ending fossil fuel energy use by 2050. Canada greatly increased the floor price for carbon. Denmark announced that it will end all new oil and gas exploration in the North sea. Fifteen countries profiled their targets to accelerate the transition to renewable energy by 2030—with Barbados (fossil-fuel free), Vanuatu (100% renewables) and Austria (100% renewables) all turning their backs on fossil fuels. Alongside the UK, France and Sweden set out plans to end international financial support for fossil fuels.

A strong commitment to protecting nature was also clear. Leaders spoke about their existing plans to increase the use of nature-based solutions to combat climate change.

12 donor countries highlighted their commitments to support developing countries, including just under €500 million in additional investment from Germany, an additional €1 billion per year from France from its previous target, as well as a World Bank commitment to ensure that 35% of its portfolio includes climate co-benefits, and an EIB commitment to ensure that 50% includes climate co-benefits, as well as 100% alignment of EIB’s activities on Paris agreement. However, it is clear that there is much more to do to ensure that no one is left behind. Covid-19 has impacted international climate finance flows this year. 2021 will be a critical year to show that finance is flowing and to meet and surpass the $100 billion goal.

The summit also saw commitments from business, cities and investors. Over 2,500 businesses, cities, regions, investors and members of the Climate Ambition Alliance representing nearly 70% of the global economy have now got commitments to net zero by 2050.

The Race to Resilience campaign, launched at the summit, brings together non-state actors and initiatives which commit to building resilience actions to safeguard by 2030 the lives and livelihoods of 4 billion people from groups and communities vulnerable to climate risks. Examples of actions include: Zurich Insurance (Switzerland) announced that the Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance will triple funding by 2025 and expand its reach from 11 to 21 countries, and the Mayor of Freetown (Sierra Leone) committed to planting 1 million trees between 2020 and 2021.

Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative (Global)—representing US$9 trillion of assets under management has seen each of the 30 founding members unequivocally commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. This includes setting individual portfolio targets, as well as engaging companies in each member’s portfolio to set decarbonisation goals in line with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C.

C40 Cities (Global)—announced the launch of the Cities Race to Zero campaign and that 70 cities and local governments have joined in the first month.

Godrej & Boyce (India)—a manufacturing company, announced commitments to key global initiatives including the business ambition for 1.5C, setting science-based targets, and advancing energy efficiency, in line with their overall ambition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

International Airlines Group (Spain/UK)—are the first airline group worldwide to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, and the Oneworld Alliance of 13 airlines representing 20% of global aviation is investing US$400 million in the development of sustainable aviation fuels (over the next 20 years).

Dalmia Cement (India)—40 of the world’s leading producers of cement issued an industry commitment to deliver carbon-neutral concrete by 2050. The Indian cement company has gone further and established a roadmap to become carbon negative by 2040 and is working globally to meet its 100% renewable energy objectives.

Movida-Rent-a-Car (Brazil)—presented the actions that will underpin their pledge of net zero emissions by 2030 and becoming carbon positive by 2040.

Apple (United States)—pledged carbon neutrality for its supply chain and products by 2030 and announced new progress that 95 of its suppliers have committed to moving to 100% renewable energy.

Artistic Milliners (Pakistan)—a textile company announced joining the UN fashion industry charter for climate action and shared their actions on the circular economy to reduce their carbon footprint and provide zero emissions energy to thousands of homes.