At the Climate Ambition Summit held simultaneously in New York, Paris and London on 12 December, global leaders took a major stride towards a resilient, net zero emissions future by presenting ambitious new commitments, urgent actions and concrete plans.
Co-convened by the United Nations, the UK and France, in partnership with Italy and Chile, on the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, the Climate Ambition Summit marked a major milestone on the road to the crucial UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow next November.
75 leaders from all continents outlined new commitments at the Summit. This is a clear signal that the Paris Agreement – the compass of international action – is working to increase steeply climate action and ambition.
The Summit showed clearly that climate change is at the top of the global agenda despite the shared challenges of Covid-19, and that 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 Summit showed beyond doubt that climate action and ambition are on the rise. The announcements at or just before the Summit, together with those expected early next year, mean that countries representing around 65% of global CO2 emissions, and around 70% of the world’s economy, will have committed by early next year to achieving net zero emissions or carbon neutrality.
These commitments must now be backed up with concrete plans and actions, starting now, to achieve these goals, and the Summit delivered a surge in progress on this front.
The number of countries coming forward with strengthened national climate plans (NDCs) grew significantly at the summit, with commitments covering 71 countries (all EU member states are included in the new EU NDC) on display. As well as the EU NDC, a further 27 of these new and enhanced NDCs were announced at or shortly before the Summit.
A growing number of countries (15) changed gear from incremental to major increases. Countries committing to much stronger NDCs at the Summit, included Argentina, Barbados, Canada, Colombia, Iceland, and Peru.
The leadership and strengthened NDCs delivered at the Summit mean there will be more than 50 NDCs officially submitted by the end of 2020, boosting momentum and creating a pathway for others to follow in the months ahead.
Announcements on 12 December, together with recent commitments, send us into 2021 and the road to the Glasgow COP26 with much greater momentum. The Summit showcased leading examples of enhanced NDCs that can help encourage other countries to follow suit – particularly G20 countries.
United Nations secretary-general António Guterres commented: “The Summit has now sent strong signals that more countries and more businesses are ready to take the bold climate action on which our future security and prosperity depend.
“Today was an important step forward, but it's not yet enough. Let's not forget that we are still on track to an increase of temperature of 3 degrees at least in the end of the century, which would be catastrophic.
“The recovery from Covid-19 presents an opportunity to set our economies and societies on a green path in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
“As we look ahead, the central objective of the United Nations for 2021 is to build a truly Global Coalition for Carbon Neutrality.”
UK prime minister Boris Johnson commented: “Today we have seen what can be achieved if nations pull together and demonstrate real leadership and ambition in the fight to save our planet.
“The UK has led the way with a commitment to cut emissions by at least 68 percent by 2030 and to end support for the fossil fuel sector overseas as soon as possible, and it’s fantastic to see new pledges from around the world that put us on the path to success ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.
“There is no doubt that we are coming to the end of a dark and difficult year, but scientific innovation has proved to be our salvation as the vaccine is rolled out. We must use that same ingenuity and spirit of collective endeavour to tackle the climate crisis, create the jobs of the future and build back better.”