Global Climate Action Summit

world hands and UN logo

On 23 September 2019, World leaders and other key players came together in the Global Climate Action Summit 2019 to accelerate moves to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Find out here what calls were made for global climate action and the agreed outcomes for a better future.


Global climate action: Calls to act now

Those gathered at the Global Climate Action Summit 2019 came from around the world to call for urgent climate action. The current climate crisis is increasingly leaving its mark on health and livelihoods, in turn, worsening famine, disease and the refugee crisis. A global collaborative effort was encouraged to reach the critical objectives of protecting our natural environment and transitioning to a zero-carbon world.

 

Let's go over what was agreed, before detailing the measures to be implemented that will contribute to reaching the set targets.

What did we agree to do in Paris?

The Paris Agreement was an accord, signed by 195 UNFCCC members in March 2019. Members agreed to keep the increase in global average temperature to below 2 °C while striving to maintain the rise to 1.5 °C or lower. In doing so, we would hopefully mitigate the dangerous consequences of climate change.

What commitments were made at the Global Climate Action Summit?

At the Global Climate Action Summit 2019, over 500 commitments were made. Members were encouraged to reach their targets at a local and regional level. This would include policies, legislation and regulation of measures that incentivize zero-carbon development. Among the commitments made, the following were particularly signficant:

What was the Commitment By who?
To become emissions neutral by 2050. Over 100 Mayors, state and regional leaders, and CEOs
To set science-based targets as part of the climate solution 488 businesses
To deliver a 100% zero-emission transport future by 2030 More than 60 CEOs, state and regional leaders, and mayors
To build net-zero carbon buildings 38 cities, major businesses, state and regional governments

Summit outcomes

Over 5,000 climate leaders agreed on more than 500 climate commitments. Progress reports on the implementation of these commitments will be presented at the COP 24 in Poland and other significant events through the 2020 COP. Let's see a brief overview of the central promises made and how they are to be implemented.

Carbon neutrality

Carbon Neutral Plans were put forward by 73 of the World's Largest Cities. Below are some of the most significant carbon-neutral proposals pledged at the Global Climate Action Summit.

Net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 goal

California, the world's fifth-largest economy, was just one of over 100 jurisdictions who has committed themselves to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. A total of 73 cities agreed to start developing action plans by 2020 to reach the 2050 targets in line with the Paris Agreement. Concretely, they would reduce 12 gigatons of CO2e emissions by 2050. The State of California itself committed itself to net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.

Low-carbon public transport

The German State of Baden-Württemberg will play a key role in developing the market for zero-emission vehicles and low-carbon buses and bicycles and other means of public transportation. The very first 100% electric sports car is set to be unveiled sometime soon.

ING will align its $600 billion lending portfolio

ING pledged to align its $600 billion lending portfolio with the Paris Agreement, by directing the portfolio of assets to below 2°C. The Terra Climate Alignment approach will be used to achieve this.

India's Mahindra Group commits to carbon neutrality

The Mahindra Group, worth $20.7 billion headquartered in India, is set to be carbon neutral by 2040. Its business sectors include finance, information technology, manufacturing and real estate. It's also one of the biggest car manufacturers in India, making it a key player with the developing market to achieve carbon neutrality.

Clean and healthy energy

The Global Climate Action Summit 2019 sparked new commitments which gave rise to the 100% renewable energy (or "RE100") initiative. This included putting an end to coal, implementing smarter grid innovation and building utility-scale storage. Let's take a look at some of the RE100 commitments made by big companies at The Global Climate Action Summit.

Clean Energy Access in Nigeria

ZOLA Electric and DBL Partners are working jointly to give one million homes and businesses in Nigeria access to cost-effective solar energy and storage systems. This will alleviate Nigeria's current over-reliance on diesel generators for basic energy demands.

Health Care Industry to purchase 100% Renewable Energy

Health care institutions in ten countries have committed themselves to acquire 100% renewable electricity. By doing so, the healthcare industry will have reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by more than one million metric tons of CO2-equivalent per year.

Decarbonizing transportation systems

At the Global Climate Action Summit over 60 jurisdictions committed to zero-emission vehicles (or the "ZEV Challenge"). This also included developing infrastructure where people could walk and cycle with great ease and safety, making electric busses and investing more in mass public transportation. We take a thorough look at a few of the contributors who made pledges to the ZEV Challenge at the 2019 Summit.

State leaders commit to 100% ZEV Fleets by 2030

2030 is the year by when many state leaders pledged to have shifted all of their fleets to zero-emission vehicles. This complements the pledge from ten governors and premiers to ensure that by 2050 or earlier only zero-emission vehicles will be sold. This would have the effect of reducing more than 125 million tons CO2e per year in 2030.

Pledge to develop 3.5 Million new EV Charging Stations

The shift towards electric vehicles is already underway. As an example, EV fast charge points will offer card payment by 2020. Ecotricity is one of the UK suppliers to have led the development of EV charging stations across UK motorways. In a bid to propel this trend, the CEO of ChargePoint, the world's largest network of EV charging stations in Europe, Australia North America, has committed to developing 2.5 million new charging stations by 2025.

United Airlines Commit to 50% Reductions by 2050

The San Francisco-based carrier is set to halve its emissions by 2050 relative to 2005 levels. It's the first U.S.-based air carrier ever to make such a pledge. The effect this would have would be equivalent to removing 4.5 million cars from the road.

 

Innovation and inclusive economic growth

At the Summit, 488 companies committed to science-based emissions reduction targets (SBTs) in a bid to not let global warming rise above two degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement. Some of the SBT commitments include the following:

  • Levi Strauss & Co. will aim for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 90% in all owned-and-operated facilities.
  • McDonald's will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 36% from all restaurants.
  • Starbucks will operate 10,000 greener stores globally by 2025

The Global Climate Action Summit 2019 saw promising commitments across many other sectors, including forests and agriculture, cities, climate finance and coasts. You can read the full Call to Global Climate Action.