Global leaders presented on Thursday bold climate ambition and urgent demands at the Climate Ambition Roundtable convened by United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, capping a week of major announcements from China, the European Union and many global businesses.
The UN chief called for governments, businesses, civil and international organizations to develop a transition plan to net-zero emissions, and boost ambition in finance and adaption as an equal priority to cutting emissions, so as to limit global temperature rise to 1.5.
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced Tuesday that China aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
Guterres said he was “encouraged” by recent announcements by the European Union and China on carbon emissions goals. “I now count on them and other main emitters to present the concrete plans and policies that will get all of us to reach carbon neutrality globally by 2050,” said the UN chief.
Several leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said in the roundtable they were also encouraged by China’s announcement this week that it would become carbon neutral before 2060, and China’s signal that it would pursue concrete plans and policies to achieve this goal.
To harness the growing momentum, the roundtable also included the announcement of a virtual climate ambition Summit on the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Dec. 12.
The UN believes that China’s pledge could help galvanize action by other countries ahead of Dec. 12.
“The fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Dec. 12, 2020, which will gather leaders from governments, business and civil society, will be an important moment to continue raising climate ambition,” the UN chief said.
“All actors — governments, cities and companies, non-government organizations and international organizations need to have their own transition plans to net-zero before 2050,” said the secretary-general.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the commission’s proposal — announced this week — is to raise its ambition by cutting greenhouse gases by 55 percent compared to 1990 levels. The current target is a 40 percent reduction.
“It’s achievable,” she said, adding that it would require additional investments. “We will raise the money,” she said of the EC’s proposal to issue 200 billion euros (234 billion U.S. dollars) of green bonds, and flagged greater EU cooperation with other nations and non-state actors.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said that Chile would phase out all coal-powered generation and electrify all its public transport by 2040.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy — incoming G20 chair — called on investors to divert from fossil fuels. He, along with other leaders — including Johnson — stressed the need to put climate action and green jobs at the center of COVID-19 recovery plans.
Despite challenging economic and credit conditions due to COVID-19, the roundtable reinforced the urgency of developed nations supporting developing nations, including through full delivery of the 100 billion dollars commitment for climate finance in the Paris Agreement.
Several private sector leaders stepped up calls for governments to set more ambitious policy frameworks to speed the shift from the grey to the green economy, and showed how they are leading by example.
Kahori Miyake, co-chair of the Japan Climate Leaders Partnership said 150 Japanese businesses representing 48 terawatts of energy use are moving towards net-zero emissions by 2050, and Microsoft President Brad Smith discussed steps the 1 trillion-dollar company is taking to deliver on its recent announcement to be carbon-negative by 2030.