The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the ‘Rio Convention’ included the adoption of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This convention set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.” The UNFCCC which entered into force on 21 March 1994, now has a near-universal membership of 195 parties. The main objective of the annual Conference of Parties (COP) is to review the Convention’s implementation.
The first COP took place in Berlin in 1995 and significant meetings since then have included COP3 where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, COP11 where the Montreal Action Plan was produced, COP15 in Copenhagen where an agreement to success Kyoto Protocol was unfortunately not realised and COP17 in Durban where the Green Climate Fund was created. In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, has, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. Climate change matters for the survival and development of all human life. It is urgent to take action to curtail the causes of global warming. The Paris Agreement reaffirms the ambitious goal of limiting global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while pursuing efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. To keep the possibility of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees in sight, global greenhouse gas emissions need to drop by 55 percent by 2030 and net emissions have to fall to zero by 2050, according to the United Nations. Recent climate talks in Madrid ended with a partial agreement to ask countries to come up with more ambitious targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions in order to meet the existing terms of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Global “atmospheric” carbon reduction efforts bring new opportunities for global energy transition and economic growth. In order to support efforts to reduce the main causes of climate change a powerful tool of “Green” finance needs to dramatically accelerate. For example, the European Commission presented the European “Green Deal,” with a goal to make the EU the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The European Investment Bank agreed to phase out its multi-billion euro financing for fossil fuels within the next two years and transform to the world’s first ‘“climate bank”. The “Sustainable Europe Investment Plan” will also mobilize at least EUR 1 trillion in the next decade for green financing. In addition, the European Central Bank will “green” its assets structure as well. Other international reputable financial institutions must decide that they will transform fossil fuel financing to green low carbon energy sources. Governed by the concept of “a new development strategy boosting high-quality economic growth”, China has initiated a series of low carbon actions to share the responsibility. It stipulates that green development needs to be accelerated by building an economic system geared towards green, low-carbon and circular development, building a clean and low-carbon energy system and advocating a green and low-carbon lifestyle to meet its Paris commitment. To achieve the Paris climate goal, China has nationally determined its actions by 2030 as follows: to lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% from the 2005 level; to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20%; to achieve the peaking of carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and making best efforts to peak early.
Climate change is everyone’s business. Climate change is now acknowledged as a global threat and while global solutions and the COP 21 agreement are long-term issues we believe we can and must demonstrate that there is a “middle way” between doing nothing and a total global solution. We will undertake projects and programs which will inform, educate, demonstrate and share practices that are locally responsible and that encourage local communities to create jobs and stimulate economic benefit while slowly removing the generation of GHG from the economic and social equation. We welcome similar efforts by all who seek to promote the global sustainable low carbon economy.