December 12 marks the two-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, the historic global accord to combat climate change. Signed by every country on the planet, the goal of the agreement is to limit global warming to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.” Despite the U.S. Administration’s announcement that it intends to exit the accord, the Paris framework is robust and has become the new guidepost for climate action and ambition.
Here are 3 key drivers of progress for the Paris Agreement, which the UN Foundation helps support:
- Driving Bold Climate Commitments at Every Level
Although only countries can formally join the Paris Agreement, the accord calls for enhanced climate action by all actors, including states, cities, local communities, companies, and civil society organizations. The variety of actors driving progress demonstrates the agreement’s wide support and the high level of global enthusiasm for climate action.
More than 7,400 cities and local governments from 121 countries are committed to change action through the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. In the U.S. alone, more than 2,500 mayors, governors, businesses leaders, and investors have pledged their support to the Paris Agreement.
To help galvanize sub-national governments, the private sector, and other actors in realizing the promise of the agreement, the UN Foundation is working to showcase and build partnerships with states, cities, businesses, and civil society. That includes working with partners to help organize the world’s first Global Climate Action Summit, focused on sub-national and private sector leadership, in September 2018 in San Francisco.
- Accelerating the Adoption of Clean Energy
Thanks to robust public and private innovation and investment, the costs of clean energy technologies are tumbling – in many places wind power is now cheaper than electricity generated from coal, and solar is fast approaching competitiveness with fossil fuels. New renewable energy capacity installed worldwide in 2016 reached 161 GW, a 10% rise from 2015 and a new record according to REN21.
This growth is driven in part through new efforts such as the International Solar Alliance, a group of more than 40 nations committed to generating 1,000 GW of solar power, the equivalent of 1,000 large-scale fossil fuel power plants, by 2030.
Through the UN Foundation’s Powering Health Care initiative, we are harnessing this progress to provide sustainable energy access in the health sector in the developing world, with solar power installations now in 62 rural health facilities in Uganda and Ghana – benefiting more than 300,000 patients a year.
- Galvanizing Green Financing and Investment
The transformation of global infrastructure – in energy, agriculture, transportation, and agricultural production – will require tens of trillions of dollars in investment in the coming decades, both to make these systems more climate friendly and to bolster their resilience in the face of climate change.
However, the scale of finance flows, especially in poorer nations, is not matching the speed and scale needed to keep pace with the urgency. That’s why today, on December 12, more than 50 world leaders are meeting in Paris at the One Planet Summit to discuss ways to unleash the financing needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals.
To highlight the global risks and opportunities of climate change to the financial and business community, the UN Foundation, Ceres, and the UN Office of Partnerships, will host the next key event aimed at mobilizing green finance and investment: the 2018 Investor Summit on Climate Risk. On January 31, the Investor Summit will convene 500 global investor and business leaders to accelerate action on climate change and help align global investment with the market opportunities created by the Paris Agreement.
In just two short years, the Paris Agreement has inspired a wide array of actors to tackle the global threat of climate change and advance the Sustainable Development Goals. While these actions deserve attention and praise, it’s important to remember that more ambition is needed.
We must increase the adoption of sustainable energy, investments in the low-carbon economy, and support for climate action across sectors to stay within the safety zones of the agreement.
The UN Foundation is committed to accelerating progress in line with the Paris Agreement for a sustainable, healthy, and thriving planet. As Secretary-General António Guterres said last month: “By embracing low-carbon climate-resilient policy making, you can set the world on the right path.”