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Wednesday September 19 General

Accelerating Global Climate Action

Climate Diplomacy Project Coordinator, Camilla Munkedal, shares her thoughts on what’s required to accelerate global climate action

September 19, 2018

Next week’s Climate Week NYC 2018 will convene businesses, governments, academic institutions, and civil society organizations to demonstrate once more the importance of non-state action for limiting the rise in average global temperatures below 2˚C. It will do so by showing what’s been done, how it’s been done, and why we need to be doing more.

Taking place just 10 days after the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, Climate Week will pick up many of the same themes. One particular event to do this will be the ‘Accelerating global climate action post-GCAS’ panel discussion at The Hub on September 25 hosted by ClimateWorks Foundation.  This event will feature expert speakers from Mission 2020, The Climate Group, WWF, CISL, and the We Mean Business coalition. The diversity of strategies of such a range of organizations may beg the question: what is the most effective strategy for accelerating global climate action?

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to think about this question in some detail as part of a small team developing a new ‘Climate Diplomacy’ program for the Under2 Coalition. Based on this experience here are my thoughts on what’s essential for accelerating action:

1. Provide compelling evidence

To accelerate global climate action, the first crucial step is to continue producing and disseminating evidence, especially to those outside the ‘climate bubble’. We must continue raising the point that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is higher than at any point in time in the past 400,000 years;[1] that continued rise in global emissions may lead to dangerous scenarios;[2] but also, that tangible solutions are already out there.[3]

2. Lead by example

Evidence must be followed by action, and here leading by example is crucial. Leading by example is when the state of Telangana in India embeds energy efficiency building standards into its building approval system[4], it’s when Shenzhen in China converts all 16,000 of its busses to electric vehicles[5], and it’s when Acre in Brazil implements a ground-breaking forest conservation law that maintains 86% of its original forest cover[6]. Leading by example fosters the political and economic confidence that we need so urgently to accelerate global climate action, and it provides new solutions that can be shared with others.

3. Form coalitions

If leading by example is the crucial second step, forming coalitions it the third. Coalitions such as the Under2 Coalition, the Alliances for Climate Action, and We Mean Business help spread the stories of climate action and they enhance collaboration among non-state actors. By giving a voice to individual actors, coalitions help secure finance and enhance political will for accelerating climate action.

4. Work ambitiously

Alongside providing the evidence, leading by example, and forming coalitions, the final important lever is to work ambitiously by using existing frameworks to exert pressure on those that have committed to act. The new Under2 Climate Diplomacy program we’re seeking to implement aims to achieve this level of ambition by increasing intelligence sharing among sub-national governments, by improving collaboration between different types of non-state actors, and by putting in place structures that will enable sub-national governments to engage more effectively at the national and international level. In laying out these objectives, the Climate Diplomacy initiative has the ultimate goal of building the political confidence of individual countries to significantly ratchet their Paris Agreement NDCs in 2020 and 2025.

This is an ambitious goal - but accelerating global climate action has to be.

[1] https://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/24/graphic-the-relentless-rise-of-carbon-dioxide/
[3] https://www.rmi.org/insight/carbon-free-regions-handbook/
[4] https://www.theclimategroup.org/news/telangana-constructs-energy-efficient-buildings
[5] https://www.rmi.org/insight/carbon-free-regions-handbook/
[6] http://www.stanleyfoundation.org/publications/report/WhitePaperScalingUp12-2015.pdf

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