A Bolder Global Climate Policy 3rd call to action for a better COP28.

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His Royal Highness King Charles expressed his concern for the future clearly in his COP28 opening statement: “Some important progress has been made, but it worries me greatly that we remain so dreadfully far off track as the Global Stocktake Report demonstrates so graphically.”  His anxiety was thought-provoking. “With what we are witnessing, our choice now is a starker and darker one: how dangerous are we actually prepared to make our world?”  And he followed this by delivering a motivating call to arms, “Ladies and gentlemen, in your hands is an unmissable opportunity to keep our common hope alive. I can only urge you to meet it with ambition, imagination, and a true sense of the emergency we face, together with a commitment to the practical action upon which our shared future depends.”

CLIMATE ACTION INVENTORY

World leaders and delegates at COP28 has begun work to take a decision on the first-ever Global Stocktake (GST), to deliver a verdict on global climate policy that must be agreed by almost 200 countries, and to accelerate ambition in their next round of climate action plans (also known as Nationally Determined Contributions – NDCs) due in 2025.

In early September, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released the inaugural Global Stocktake Synthesis Report which assessed the NDCs and how far the signatories of the 2015 Paris Agreement are from meeting their climate goals. The report revealed that governments are making insufficient progress and warned that our world is massively off-track in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement: to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and pursue efforts “to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”.

According to the World Research Institute (WRI) Climate Watch platform which tracks NDCs countries need a bigger scale of ambition and a clearer sense of the transformation that will need to be pursued to achieve the Paris Agreement Goals:

– Countries must reduce emissions by at least 6 times as much as current pledges.

– Countries are strengthening adaptation plans, but progress must speed up and the plans need to be expanded.

– Current levels of climate finance are insufficient for implementing even a subset of NDCs.

– Around 50% of developing countries include loss and damage in their NDCs.

– 81% of NDCs seek to increase renewable energy, but few explicitly aim to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

– Most NDCs include measures addressing forests and land use, but quality varies.

– NDCs prioritize electric mobility but don’t include other critical measures to reduce transport emissions.

Only 15 of the 119 Global Methane Pledge signatories include a specific, quantified methane-reduction target in their NDCs.

To achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal, the March 2022 IPCC Report warned that global greenhouse gas (GHG) needs to peak before 2025 (this means it must stop increasing) and it must be lowered by 43% before 2030 and 60% before 2035 from 2019 levels; and aim for net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.

A year later, a March 2023 IPCC Report on the impacts and trajectory of global warming called for more urgent action. UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutierrez, proposed a Climate Solidarity Pack through an Acceleration Agenda to the G20 group of highly developed economies, which involved leaders of developed countries to commit to reaching net zero before 2040, and developing countries before 2050.

In 2022, G20 countries emitted more than  81% of global emissions and gave a record $1.4tn to support fossil fuels.

PLEDGES – THE GOOD AND THE GREENWASH

The UNFCCC Race To Zero global campaign launched in June 2020 to drive net zero commitments ahead of the COP26 Glasgow Summit, rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors to join the Climate Ambition Alliance.

Given the absence of significant government oversight on Net Zero pledges beyond the most basic of public disclosure requirements, several organizations stepped up:

Corporate Europe Observatory’s 2021 “Still A Big Con” report revealed that many corporations with fossil fuel ties were represented at the COP as signatories to pledges such as Race to Zero.

New Climate Institute, in collaboration with Carbon Market Watch, published a 2021 Corporate Climate Responsibility Monitor(CCRM) report evaluating the transparency and integrity of 25 major corporate Net Zero pledges. It called out the language used to describe Net Zero commitments as being either over-exaggerated or misleading, and highlighted a lack of overall progress in commitment delivery in 24 of the companies assessed.

After widespread concern about greenwashing, the UN Chief created a “high-level expert group” in March 2022 to advise on rules to improve integrity and transparency in Net Zero commitments.  He said: “We must have zero tolerance for net-zero greenwashing. A growing number of governments and companies are pledging to be carbon free – and that’s good news. The problem is that the criteria and benchmarks for these Net Zero commitments have varying levels of rigour and loopholes wide enough to drive a diesel truck through.”

A UN report released at last year’s COP27 –  “Integrity Matters: Net Zero commitments by Businesses, Financial Institutions, Cities and Regions” – said policies should be ‘about cutting emissions, not corners’.  At this year’s COP28, leading representatives from within the community of international regulators and experts have announced their participation in a new task force to ensure the credibility and accountability of 1.5°C-aligned Net Zero emissions commitments by non-state actors.

CALL TO ACTION NOW

For a better COP28, NOW is calling for an agreement among world leaders for a bold global climate policy that will meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

It is important for companies around the world to know that “business-as-usual” is ending, and that they will not only have to comply with the GHG emissions laws in their country, but they will also have to comply with a global climate policy with a mandate to “pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”.

One example of groundbreaking action is the 2021 Netherlands court verdict ordering the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell to cut emissions by 45% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels, 5 years ahead of its action plan.  This also inspired individuals and groups worldwide to act and to force companies and governments to comply with the accords through the courts.

Join us in two days for our fourth action call for a better COP 28.

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