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Climate Action Summit, New York on 23 September 2019

UN Climate Action Summit was held on September 23 at a Special Assembly of the United Nations in New York. The summit was called by UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in response to the possible impact of dangerous global heating due to rising levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the upper atmosphere. He said by way of introduction that ‘nature is angry with us and we fool ourselves if we think that can fool nature because nature always strikes back.

With climate impacts such as extreme weather, thawing permafrost and sea-level rise unfolding much faster than expected, the urgency of the crisis has intensified since the Paris accord was signed in 2015. There is a cost to everything, but the biggest cost will be doing nothing.

Greta Thunberg amplified these remarks by stating ‘the popular idea of cutting our emissions in half within 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below the 1.5º C and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human contact. A 50% risk, she added, is simply not acceptable to use who have to live with the consequences.

To have a 67% chance of staying below the critical carbon limit, only an additional 350 Gigatonnes of CO2 can be emitted which will be used up in less than 8 and a half years at today’s consumption rate.

She concluded that ‘the eyes of all future generations are upon you and if you chose to fail us, I say, we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this'.

Summit outcome

Major announcements made by government and private sector leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit will boost climate action momentum, and demonstrate growing recognition that the pace of climate action must be rapidly accelerated.

65 countries and major sub-national economies such as California are committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, while 70 countries announced they will either boost their national action plans by 2020 or have started the process of doing so.

Over 100 business leaders pledges to deliver concrete actions to align with the Paris Agreement targets, and speed up the transition from the grey to green economy, including asset-owners holding over $2 trillion in assets and leading companies with combined value also over $2 trillion.

In addition many countries and over 100 cities - including many of the world’s largest - announced significant and concrete new steps to combat the climate crisis.

The summit concluded that ‘Climate change is the defining issue of our time and now is the defining moment to do something about it. There is still time to tackle climate change, but it will require an unprecedented effort from all sectors of society’.



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