Yearbook of Global Climate Action 2019

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Executive summary

Time is running out to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius and adapt to the impacts of climate change. While this reality has been widely acknowledged, global ambition is still not strong enough and the pace of action is too slow to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement. The Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action was launched at the 22nd session of the Conference of Parties (COP 22) to bring the power of non-Party action to the forefront to help increase the pace and ambition of climate action in the pre-2020 period. In 2019, the High-Level Champions of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action – Tomasz Chruszczow (Poland) and Gonzalo Muñoz Abogabir (Chile) – built on the collaborative experience of the Talanoa Dialogue process to promote higher levels of ambition and innovation, scale up transformational solutions and support the implementation efforts of a diverse range of actors.

This third Yearbook reflects the state of global climate action by non-Party stakeholders – defined as businesses, cities and regions, and civil society – and brings key messages to the international community to encourage bold and courageous climate action by Parties and non-Party stakeholders alike. The Yearbook was produced by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat under the guidance of the High-Level Champions, with the support of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action.

Where are we? Delivering action and building momentum

A multitude of cities, regions, businesses and civil society are delivering climate action globally. Within this broader context, the Marrakech Partnership acts to create synergies and links between its seven thematic areas, which represent areas of urgent climate action as well as important cross-cutting themes such as finance and resilience. While each thematic area has specific opportunities and challenges, successful action generally advances a range of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Examples of action highlighted in the Yearbook include Climate Action 100+, in which 370 investors with over USD 35 trillion in assets collectively ask major corporate emitters to reduce emissions and address climate risks; the Seacology initiative to restore mangroves which has cultivated over 800,000 mangrove seedlings and replanted approximately 480 hectares in Sri Lanka to build resilience to the impacts of climate change, provide carbon storage and protect livelihoods; and RE100, in which 200 companies have committed to 100 per cent renewable energy, sending financial signals to the energy sector to develop renewable energy.

Since 2013, a growing number of international cooperative initiatives (ICIs) have delivered action that, taken together, increases the likelihood of achieving desired environmental and social impacts. Between 2013 and 2019, initiatives (often with Parties and non-Party actors working together) that achieved high to medium-high output performance increased from just over 30 per cent to nearly 70 per cent.

This year, momentum for climate action was built through a series of regional meetings – the Africa Climate Week in Ghana, Asia-Pacific Climate Week in Thailand, and Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week in Brazil. These Climate Weeks served as critical stepping-stones on the road to the UN Climate Action Summit in September and provided platforms for grassrootslevel discussions on the SDGs, Global Climate Action, and the implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

The Africa Climate Week demonstrated the strong commitment of African countries to support the implementation of the Paris Agreement in line with national development priorities, with appropriate finance being key. Transport was identified in the Latin America and the Caribbean Week as a significant emission source to be urgently addressed. Further, the role of cities as key drivers of climate action was recognized, as was the need to enable urban development stakeholders (e.g. real estate developers, financial institutions) to meaningfully engage with each other. The Asia-Pacific Climate Week sent a message that the Asia-Pacific region can lead the global transformation that is needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Participants agreed on the potential of innovative approaches, including circular economy and nature-based solutions, as well as data-driven and smart technologies to help the region reconcile development and growth with climate mitigation and adaptation goals.

The momentum for increasing ambition continued at the UN Climate Action Summit in September 2019, with announcements on 28 initiatives across nine action areas.

The Climate Ambition Alliance was launched at the summit with the aim to drive increasing ambition and action through two streams: “Net-Zero 2050”, bringing together businesses, investors, cities and regions working towards achieving net-zero by 2050; and the “Enhanced National Climate Plans” initiative, in which 70 countries signalled their intention to enhance by 2020 the ambition of their NDCs. The Net-Zero 2050 stream builds on various initiatives, including the Carbon Neutrality Coalition, the Under2 Coalition and Deadline 2020, as well as new coalitions, such as the Businesses Ambition for 1.5˚C and the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance. To fully reap the potential of the Climate Ambition Alliance, it will be important to reach out to those that have not yet presented ambitious commitments. Key moments for such outreach include COP 25 and events leading to COP 26. It will also be important to present more concrete and monitorable plans to achieve the commitments.

Throughout the summit, emphasis was given to the voice of youth, who called on the world’s leaders to act. Two days ahead of the political summit, the UN Secretary-General hosted the Youth Climate Summit, a one-day event that served as a platform for more than 500 young activists, entrepreneurs and change agents to engage with international decision-makers.