Efforts accelerated to materialise emission reduction goals

Thursday, 2020-11-12 11:35:06
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Participants in the Green Horizon Summit join the efforts to discuss the transition to the green economy and motivate businesses to take action in the target of bringing net emissions to zero by 2050. (Illustrative photo)
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NDO – The Green Horizon Summit and the ongoing “Race to Zero Dialogues” campaign have kick-started global efforts towards the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

During these important events, UN officials, investors and businesses have called for and pledged action to achieve the goal of reducing emissions under the Paris Agreement signed in 2015.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the postponement of the COP26, which had been scheduled to take place in the UK from November 9, the series of UN climate change programmes has continued to go ahead in a global effort to prevent the disease from affecting such a tough battle. The Green Horizon Summit attracted the participation of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, President of the European Central Bank (ECB) Christine Lagarde, Chief Executive Officer of Blackrock Larry Fink, who has pledged that Blackrock, one of the world’s largest investment management corporations, will prioritise the fight against climate change and reduce investment in coal projects. At the conference, co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates and CEOs of several major banks also joined the effort to discuss the transition to a green economy, as well as motivate businesses to take action in the target of bringing net emissions to zero by 2050. According to experts, to achieve such an ambitious goal, it requires a complete transition of the economy, involving all businesses, banks, insurance companies and investors.

Enterprises can contribute to the transition process through investment products such as “green bonds” to take advantage of climate projects around the world. Enhancing the renovation of investment and cooperation methods between private financial institutions and the governments to ensure green growth has been said to play a crucial role in both promoting global economic recovery and contributing to environmental protection.

Delivering an opening remarks to the “Race to Zero Dialogues” campaign, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the world has been moving away from the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, while emphasising the importance of accelerating the materialisation of this goal in the efforts to combat climate change. Thus far, the European Union (EU), Japan, the Republic of Korea and more than 110 other countries have made commitments, while China is expected to reach this target by 2060. This means the countries accounting for 50% of global GDP and 50% of carbon emissions into the atmosphere have been committed. Meanwhile, the number of firms committed to neutralising carbon emissions has also increased more than two fold in the past year to more than 1,100. However, according to the head of the planet’s largest multilateral organisation, it is difficult for the world to achieve the set goal without accelerating faster and more practical action, as the Earth’s temperature continues to rise.

In the implementation of their commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, many countries have reduced state support in the oil, gas and coal sectors. Whereas, in fact, many countries’ post-COVID-19 economic stimulus plans are expected to pour billions of dollars into the industries exploiting polluting fuels. A joint analysis recently published by three climate change research organisations revealed that developed countries are still spending more than US$500 billion a year on fossil fuel mining projects despite their commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the Group of 20 (G20), at least US$170 billion of these countries’ public budgets have been pledged to areas using many fossil fuels since the outbreak of the pandemic. Prioritising economic recovery, governments in many countries do not seem to really promote “green recovery” in the process of reviving the weakened economy due to the impact of COVID-19. Given this fact, rich countries, which are responsible for the majority of emissions, are likely to undermine the slight progress they have made in eliminating subsidies for polluting fuels.

The UN leaders and climate change activists have urged for the utilisation of COVID-19 as a “driving force” for the transition to the green economy and sustainable development. The International Energy Agency (IEA) once said that the pandemic has “provided a unique opportunity” for governments to take a drastic and innovative move toward investment in clean energy. In order to achieve the goal of keeping global temperature rise at 1.5-2 degree Celsius, as set out in the Paris Agreement, the UN Secretary-General has urged city governments, financial institutions and private enterprises to develop transition plans towards zero emissions, before the “door of opportunity closes”.