2021-02 01
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Regional Climate Weeks to Drive Forward Climate Action in 2021 and 2022



Credit: UAE / Getty Images UN Climate Change News, 1 February  – The UN Climate Change Secretariat today announced Regional Climate Weeks in 2021 and 2022, key meetings that will help build regional momentum for the annual UN Climate Change Conferences and drive forward regional implementation of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The Regional Climate Weeks will provide a platform for representatives of national and subnational governments, cities, the private sector, financial institutions and civil society to jointly discuss opportunities to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic by identifying opportunities to deploy ambitious measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to climate change. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of life across the world. The recovery from this crisis has to be sustainable, cleaner, healthier and more resilient. For this deep transformation, we need the efforts of all stakeholders, at all levels of government and in all sectors of society. The Climate Weeks can galvanize crucial climate action at the regional level and therefore make a significant contribution to more ambition globally.” Regional Climate Weeks are open to all stakeholders as a ‘go-to’ hub to build partnerships and to showcase groundbreaking action in the regions. They are also designed to encourage and facilitate the implementation of ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, along with the implementation of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), Long-Term Low greenhouse gas Emission Development Strategies (LT-LEDS), and Global Climate Action and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In light of COVID-19, the Regional Climate Weeks in 2021 are planned in different segments and will mainly take place virtually, with the option of some physical meetings if the status of the pandemic allows, with different levels of in-person participation according to the region. The Climate Weeks in 2021 are (in alphabetical order): Africa Climate Week 2021 (ACW2021), hosted by the Government of Uganda Asia-Pacific Climate Week 2021 (APCW2021), hosted by the Government of Japan Latin America and the Caribbean Climate Week 2021 (LACCW2021), hosted by the Government of the Dominican Republic The year is to kick off with virtual regional roundtables 3-4 March in all three regions to set the scene in terms of regional priorities, challenges and opportunities for climate action. A series of virtual thematic sessions will take place focusing on partnering for the whole society engagement in implementation, managing climate risks, and seizing transformation opportunities. These events, which will include workshops, virtual exhibitions and side events, will take place from May to July (11-13 May for LACCW2021, 15-18 June for ACW2021 and 6-9 July for APCW2021). Ministerial sessions, which are to include interactions with civil society, are to be convened in each host country (9 -10 August for ACW2021, 23-25 August for LACCW2021 and 6-7 September for APCW2021). These events are to take stock of discussions held during the Climate Weeks and prepare key inputs for the Regional Climate Weeks wrap-up event at COP26 in Glasgow in November. A Regional Climate Week for the Middle East and North Africa (MENACW2022), hosted by the government of the United Arab Emirates, is planned to take place 2-3 March 2022. For this event, there is to be a series of preparatory roundtables and related events during 2021 to build momentum towards MENACW2022, benefitting from collaboration during the other climate weeks taking place this year. It is expected that the Government of the United Arab Emirates will attend the virtual regional roundtable on 3-4 March 2021 with the other host Governments. The core organizing partners are UN Development Programme, UN Environment Programme, UN Climate Change, and World Bank Group. The Regional Climate Weeks in 2021 and 2022 will build on the success of the 2019 Regional Climate Weeks, held in Accra, Ghana; Salvador, Brazil; and Bangkok, Thailand. Further quotes: Shinjirō Koizumi, Japan’s Environment Minister, said: “Global collective actions are necessary to overcome the climate crisis. Among all the regional efforts to encourage and facilitate the implementation of ambitious NDCs, the Asia-Pacific region should play a particularly active role as a key driver of the world economic growth for the coming decades. Japan, as a country which pledged net-zero emissions by 2050, is pleased to host the Asia Pacific Climate Week 2021. I look forward to welcoming all actors in the region this year in the hope of enhancing collaboration for redesigning our socio-economic system through decarbonization.” Sam Cheptoris, Uganda's Minister of Water and Environment, said: “Hosting the Africa Climate Week presents an excellent opportunity for Uganda to showcase the different in-country climate change initiatives we are undertaking, but most importantly to raise the country’s profile at regional and international level and strengthen partnerships to deliver on our commitments.” Max Puig, Executive Vice President of the National Climate Change and CDM Council of the Dominican Republic, said: “This year’s Regional Climate Weeks will come with added relevance. They will be a scenario where the proposals for post-COVID economic recovery and the strategies for increasing resilience to face the climate crisis, converge, taking into account the three axes of sustainability, social, economic and environmental. The Dominican Republic invites and supports the countries of the region to draw up these green recovery strategies together and thus guarantee the citizen security of our vulnerable peoples.” Orlando Jorge Mera, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic, said: “Despite the fact that warnings about the climate crisis have circulated for more than 30 years, human activity, far from reducing the pollution by gases that cause it, has doubled its emissions worldwide in such a way that its long-term effects will affect all countries. Some more than others - but ours, undoubtedly, in greater proportion and intensity, due to our condition as an island.“ Dr. Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The UAE has welcomed 2021 with new hope and a resolve not only to defeat the deadly coronavirus, but to turn this challenge into an opportunity to come out of this crisis stronger than ever. With a positive outlook, we will continue to reinforce the role of the green economy as the cornerstone of COVID-19 recovery, and we hope that our experience can serve as a source of inspiration for the region. The UAE is proud to host the first Climate Week in the MENA region to boost collaboration on swift, bold actions to address the challenge of climate change. We look forward to welcoming climate leaders from the region in Dubai for this historical event in March 2022.” Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Chairman of the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO), said: “While the unprecedented events in 2020 posed new challenges to our lives, economies, and societies, climate change continues to be the biggest threat to our efforts to advance sustainable development. The urgency of climate action remains a key priority, and the current crisis will not deter us from achieving our goals. Our path to recovery based on the green economy principles offers us an opportunity to relaunch our efforts. The Regional Climate Weeks have become an imperative international collaborative platform to consolidate national and regional climate action, bringing together diverse stakeholders from the public and private sectors. We look forward to meeting you all in Dubai, UAE.” Gonzalo Muñoz, COP25 High-Level Champion of Chile, said: "Against the odds, 2020 has been a year of unprecedented climate action. We have seen this especially from non-State actors, who have mobilized around the north star of net-zero by 2050 and now represent over 12% of the global economy with credible climate commitments. Now, as we race towards COP26, we must pick up the pace." Nigel Topping, COP26 High-Level Champion of the United Kingdom, said: "Radical collaboration is how we will successfully tackle climate change, and it has been greatly encouraging to see it in action this year. The pace is accelerating in the #RacetoZero carbon emissions, but we need everyone, everywhere, to join us in building a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon future."   Niklas Hagelberg, Climate Change Coordinator, UNEP, said: “According to the latest UNEP emissions gap report, despite a brief dip in carbon dioxide emissions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century. This is far beyond the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C. The 2021 Regional Climate Weeks will offer a chance to encourage and facilitate the implementation of ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement and help deliver on the much-needed mitigation and adaptation action to get to a climate-proof world.” Achim Steiner, Administrator, UNDP, said: "We must embark on a new pathway so that in ten years, we can look back on the 2020s as a Decade of Positive Transformation. We have the technology, the finance, and the ingenuity to deal with the climate crisis. And we have a plan -- the Paris Agreement. We must go further: To tackle the climate emergency head-on, post-pandemic recovery plans need to trigger long-term systemic shifts that will change the trajectory of CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Indeed, we are starting to see the emergence of collective will -- by governments, philanthropists, businesses, financial institutions, communities, and civil society -- to realise this greener future." Dr. Venkata Putti, Program Manager, Climate Change Group, The World Bank, said: “Regional Climate Weeks have become an indispensable platform to showcase climate action at the regional and national levels and are reflective of the best of multilateral partnerships. Even as the ongoing pandemic and its aftermath present enormous challenges for the countries in their recovery in the short and medium terms, the upcoming Regional Climate Weeks can be used to facilitate discussion and collective action on sustainable solutions and low carbon pathways.” Source:UN Author:UN Date:February 1, 2021

2021-01 28
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Launch of UN Race-to-Zero Emissions Breakthroughs



Credit: Running in the setting sun / Getty images UN Climate Change News, 28 January 2021 - The UN High-Level Climate Champions, COP26 President Alok Sharma, COP25 President Carolina Schmidt, together with the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa, today launch the Race to Zero Breakthroughs at the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda. Race to Zero is a global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth. Reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions by the middle of the century is crucial to achieve the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement on climate action, with clearly defined interim goals. The “Race to Zero Breakthroughs'' have been published in a special paper, which sets out near-term goals for more than 20 sectors that make up the global economy, forming a master plan around which business, governments, and civil society can unite ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference,  COP26, in Glasgow in November. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said: "The Race to Zero Breakthroughs set out the specific tipping points that every sector in the global economy must reach in order to create a resilient zero carbon world.  We now know what key actors must do, and by when, to deliver the sectoral changes needed. I call on leaders across all sectors of the global economy to work together to deliver the Race to Zero Breakthroughs." COP26 President Designate Alok Sharma said: “It is vital that businesses go net zero, as part of our fight against climate change. Which is why we look to all sectors to reach a point at which a clean way of operating becomes the norm. Because if every sector plays its part, we will see the global economy on the right path to achieving net zero by 2050.” To meet this challenge, actors covering 20% of their sector are being asked to commit to each breakthrough. The UN High-Level Champions -- Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Muñoz -- are now calling on local governments, businesses and investors to achieve breakthroughs in at least 10 sectors of the economy by the time governments convene in Glasgow in November for the UN climate negotiations. The Race to Zero Breakthroughs have been drawn from the Climate Action Pathways, a set of comprehensive roadmaps to achieve the Paris Agreement in line with 1.5°C across all sectors, which were developed by the Marrakech Partnership -- a vast coalition from across the climate action ecosystem -- all of whom will need to play their part to transform their sector to deliver the breakthroughs. One key member of this coalition is the Mission Possible Partnership, which only yesterday unveiled a new major multi-stakeholder platform – leveraging the power of the World Economic Forum, the Energy Transitions Commission, the Rocky Mountain Institute and We Mean Business – to deliver the Race to Zero Breakthroughs in seven of the most energy-intensive industries, including steel and shipping. To achieve whole-economy transformation, cities, regions and private sector leaders will need to work in partnership and commit their skills, ingenuity and resources to achieving these breakthroughs. As Gonzalo Muñoz, COP25 Climate Champion, said: “We cannot win the Race to Zero by racing alone. Only by collaborating in wholesale systems transformation can we upgrade the sectors of our global economy to deliver a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon future. These sectoral breakthroughs will allow us to go further and faster in our race to zero emissions.” Industry leaders rise to the challenge Leaders in climate and industry across the sectors of the global economy welcome the launch of the Race to Zero Breakthroughs. Anthony Hobley, Executive Director of Mission Possible Partnership, said: “The Mission Possible Partnership is delighted to act as a key delivery mechanism for Race to Zero Breakthroughs to tackle emissions in the so called harder to abate sectors. Beginning with seven of the most energy-intensive industries, the partnership’s work will build on growing momentum, investor pressure, consumer expectations, and analytical tools to design and execute net zero pathways for those industries, their customers, their suppliers, and their capital providers to consign the term harder-to-abate to the dustbin of history.” Magali Anderson, Chief Sustainability Officer and Member of Executive Committee, LafargeHolcim, said: “LafargeHolcim welcomes the Race to Zero Breakthroughs initiative. As a signatory to the UN Global Compact "Climate Ambition for 1.5°", LafargeHolcim is committed to build a net zero future and accelerate the introduction of EcopactZero, our carbon neutral concrete, to our customers worldwide.” Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of Rocky Mountain Institute, said: “The race to a zero emissions future can only be won if we catalyze action around specific tipping points for each sector. At RMI, through the Global Cooling Prize, we are demonstrating that an affordable residential AC unit that has 5X lower climate impact is already within reach and are asking global manufacturers to join the race and commit to bringing these breakthrough technologies to market by 2025.” Christiana Figueres, Co-Founder of Global Optimism and former Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, said: “The Race to Zero emissions can only be won well before 2050 if all leaders come together in radical collaboration to deliver breakthroughs in every sector. Now is your moment to choose to commit yourselves. We have the tools, technologies and resources at our disposal. All that matters now is deploying them as rapidly as possible.” Günther Thallinger, Chair Asset Owner Alliance and Member of the Board of Management Allianz SE, said: “The Race to Zero calls on us to take action. The UN-convened Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance strives to catalyze real world impact: to define targets; to change decision-making; and to enhance efforts with partners. We invite all asset owners to join us, as unprecedented transformation can only be achieved in collaboration.” Fiona Reynolds, CEO of Principles for Responsible Investment, said: “Investors can and must play a critical role in achieving financial sector breakthroughs to accelerate progress towards net zero. Ambition, engagement and commitment from institutional investors - alongside leaders, policymakers, regulators, companies and other stakeholders - will help us achieve a healthy economy and planet.” Alistair Phillips-Davies, CEO of SSE, said: “SSE has already committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions from all our business operations by 2050, but we cannot win the Race to Zero alone. Only by collaborating across the sector can we upgrade the energy systems of our global economy to deliver a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon future. I urge leaders across all sectors to work in partnership to help achieve the sectoral breakthroughs we need to win this race.” Mads Nipper, CEO of Ørsted, said: “Ørsted welcomes the Race to Zero breakthroughs, as it is clear that our energy system needs to undergo a renewables transformation. We are proud of our vision of a world that runs entirely on green energy and our commitment to be carbon neutral by 2025. We encourage others around the world to join us in delivering the breakthroughs we need for success in the race to a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon future.” Christine McGourty, CEO of Water UK, said: “The Race to Zero is one that will require commitment, collaboration, and innovation. We’re incredibly proud to be the first water industry to commit to achieving net-zero emissions by 2030, and call on colleagues around the world to join us in delivering the breakthroughs we need to achieve in our race to a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon future.” Mats Granryd, Director General of the GSMA, said: “As part of the Race to Zero, mobile industry leaders have committed to carbon reduction targets aligned to the most ambitious 1.5C global warming scenario. The group, representing 26% of global revenue, commit to delivering a healthy, resilient, low carbon future. We believe digitalization is an essential enabler for a decarbonized world and encourage all members to set ambitious net-zero targets. In fact, we invite all sectors, leaders, and governments to join the Race to Zero.” Ignacio S. Galán, Chairman & CEO, Iberdrola, said: “The “Race to Zero Breakthroughs” initiative is a great example of the power of collective action against climate change. By joining efforts, agents from all geographies and sectors can multiply the effectiveness of our individual commitment and find new collaborative solutions. The electricity industry has a key role to play if we want to accelerate the path to a more sustainable, secure and competitive energy supply, and Iberdrola has recently presented a 75 billion euro investment plan fully directed to speed up the energy transition. For this reason, we support this ambitious initiative and stand ready to work alongside UNFCCC, COP26 and WEF in its implementation.” Source:UN Author:UN Date:January 18, 2021

2021-01 27
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New Report Reveals Top 10 Insights in Climate Science in 2020



Tropical Forest Credit: Getty Images UN Climate Change News, 27 January 2021 – A new report by leading international scientists and presented to the UN reveals 10 important insights on the climate over the last year that can help drive collective action on the ongoing climate crisis and help build momentum for a successful outcome of this year’s UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow in November. In the 10 New Insights in Climate Science 2020 report, the authors outlined some of 2020’s most important findings within the field of climate science, ranging from the need for aggressive greenhouse gas emission cuts to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, to the growing use of human rights litigation to catalyze climate action. The report was presented today to UN Climate Chief Patricia Espinosa, who underlined the critical importance of a successful UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow: “COP26 is about more than the climate change agenda. It’s the world’s chance to renew confidence and credibility in multilateralism, and at the same time provide tangible evidence of the value of international collaboration at a time the world needs it most,” she said. The report was prepared by a consortium of 57 leading researchers from 21 countries. As a partnership of Future Earth, the Earth League, and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the series synthesizes the latest sustainability research for the international science-policy community, with annual installments since 2017. Frameworks for climate policies agreed at the international level are underpinned by the best available – and the most recent – climate science. Whilst the seminal reports issues by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spell out long-term trends, the findings put forward by the scientific group provide important shorter term updates. Several growing risk factors are highlighted in the report, including emissions from permafrost that are currently not considered, concerns about weakening carbon uptake in land ecosystems, and climate change impacts on freshwater and mental health. This year’s top insights in climate science are:  Improved understanding of Earth’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide strengthens support for ambitious emission cuts to meet the Paris Agreement Emissions from thawing permafrost likely to be worse than expected Tropical forests may have reached peak uptake of carbon Climate change will severely exacerbate the water crisis Climate change can profoundly affect our mental health Governments are not seizing the opportunity for a green recovery from COVID-19. COVID-19 and climate change demonstrates the need for a new social contract Economic stimulus focused primarily on growth would jeopardize the Paris Agreement Electrification in cities pivotal for just sustainability transitions Going to court to defend human rights can be an essential climate action “Because we all share the same small planet, and there are planetary boundaries, we cannot rely on nature to support us if we do not support nature, said Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and co-chair of the Earth League. “From all these scientific insights, one political insight should arise: if we want to have a chance of stabilizing our climate, for the sake of our own safety, the last chance to reduce greenhouse gases is now." “This series is a critical part of our mission to get the latest science to decision makers in an accessible format to help accelerate transitions to sustainability,” said Wendy Broadgate, Future Earth Global Hub Director, Sweden. “Worsening wildfires, intensifying storms, and even the ongoing pandemic are all signals that our relationship with nature is deteriorating, with deadly consequences.” 2021 will be a critical year to act if the world is to achieve the Paris Agreement targets. The estimated investment costs in 2020-2024 to deliver on the Paris Agreement are estimated to be only roughly half of the post-pandemic stimulus packages that have been announced so far. However, the report points out that governments are not seizing the opportunity to make a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, with statistics showing, for example, that G20 governments are committing 60% more to fossil fuel-based activities than to sustainable investments. Source:UN Author:UN Date:January 27, 2021

2021-01 14
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2020 Was One of Three Warmest Years on Record



Drought Land Credit: Canva Pro Geneva, 14 January 2021 - The year 2020 was one of the three warmest on record, and rivalled 2016 for the top spot, according to a consolidation of five leading international datasets by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). A naturally occurring cooling climate phenomenon, La Niña, put a brake on the heat only at the very end of the year. All five datasets surveyed by WMO concur that that 2011-2020 was the warmest decade on record, in a persistent long-term climate change trend. The warmest six years have all been since 2015, with 2016, 2019 and 2020 being the top three. The differences in average global temperatures among the three warmest years – 2016, 2019 and 2020 – are indistinguishably small.  The average global temperature in 2020 was about 14.9°C,  1.2 (± 0.1) °C above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) level.  “The confirmation by the World Meteorological Organization that 2020 was one of the warmest years on record is yet another stark reminder of the relentless pace of climate change, which is destroying lives and livelihoods across our planet. Today, we are at 1.2 degrees of warming and already witnessing unprecedented weather extremes in every region and on every continent. We are headed for a catastrophic temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius this century. Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top priority for everyone, everywhere," said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.  “The exceptional heat of 2020 is despite a La Niña event, which has a temporary cooling effect,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas. “It is remarkable that temperatures in 2020 were virtually on a par with 2016, when we saw one of the strongest El Niño warming events on record. This is a clear indication that the global signal from human-induced climate change is now as powerful as the force of nature,” said Prof. Taalas.  “The temperature ranking of individual years represent only a snapshot of a much longer-term trend. Since the 1980s each decade has been warmer than the previous one. Heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere remain at record levels and the long lifetime of carbon dioxide, the most important gas, commits the planet to future warming,” said Prof. Taalas.  The La Niña event which began in late 2020 is expected to continue into early to mid-2021.  La Niña and El Niño effects on average global temperature are typically strongest in the second year of the event, and the extent to which the continued cooling effects of La Niña in 2021 may temporarily diminish the overall long-term warming trend during this coming year remains to be seen.  Sustained heat and wildfires in Siberia and low Arctic sea ice extent, as well as the record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season were among the standout features of 2020.  Temperature is just one of the indicators of climate change. The others are: greenhouse gas concentrations; ocean heat content; ocean pH; global mean sea level; glacial mass; sea ice extent and extreme events.  As in previous years, there were significant socio-economic impacts in 2020. For instance, the United States reported a record 22 billion-dollar disasters in 2020, which was the nation’s fifth warmest year on record.     International Datasets  WMO uses datasets (based on monthly climatological data from observing sites and ships and buoys in global marine networks) developed and maintained by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS), and the United Kingdom’s Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (HadCRUT).  WMO also uses reanalysis datasets from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and its Copernicus Climate Change Service, and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).  Reanalysis combines millions of meteorological and marine observations, including from satellites, with models to produce a complete reanalysis of the atmosphere. The combination of observations with models makes it possible to estimate temperatures at any time and in any place across the globe, even in data-sparse areas such as the polar regions.  NASA and Copernicus Climate Change Service estimate that 2020 is jointly the warmest year on record together with 2016. NOAA and the United Kingdom’s HadCRUT dataset both ranked 2020 as the second warmest behind 2016, with JRA ranking 2020 as the third warmest.  The small differences among these datasets are all within the margin of error for calculating the average global temperature according to WMO.  The Met Office and the University of East Anglia recently upgraded their long-running HadCRUT dataset, including better coverage in data-sparse areas such as the rapidly warming Arctic. This provides more accurate estimates of global, hemispheric and regional temperature changes. The previous version, HadCRUT4, showed less warming than other global temperature data sets. HadCRUT5 is now more consistent with these other datasets during recent decades and shows slightly more warming than most of them do over the full period since 1850.   Future projections  The temperature figures will be incorporated into the final WMO report on the State of the Climate in 2020 which will be issued in March 2021. This includes information on all leading climate indicators and selected climate impacts, and updates a provisional report issued in December 2020.  The Paris Agreement seeks to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.  At 1.2 °C above the pre-industrial (1850-1900) levels, the global average temperature in 2020 is already approaching the lower limit of temperature increase the Paris Agreement seeks to avert. There is at least a one in five chance of the average global temperature temporarily exceeding 1.5 °C by 2024, according to WMO’s Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, led by the United Kingdom’s Met Office. The Met Office annual global temperature forecast for 2021 suggests that next year will once again enter the series of the Earth’s hottest years, despite being influenced by the temporary cooling of La Niña, the effects of which are typically strongest in the second year of the event.  Source:UN Author:UN Date:January 14, 2021

2021-01 11
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António Guterres: 2021 Is the Year to Reconcile Humanity with Nature



Credit: Global Landscapes Forum UN Climate Change News, 11 January 2021 - In a virtual address today at the ‘One Planet Summit’ for biodiversity hosted by the French government in cooperation with the United Nations and the World Bank, UN Secretary-General António Guterres declared 2021 as “the year to reconcile humanity with nature.” He highlighted both the need to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to provide adequate finance to adapt to the impacts of climate change, which include more frequent and more severe incidents of drought, flooding and fires. While we have been abusing our planet as if we had a spare one, he said, ‘nature is striking back’, with record-high temperatures and collapsing biodiversity. Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, however, provides an opportunity to change course: “With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a path that brings health to all, revives economies, builds resilience and rescues biodiversity,” he said, citing nature-based solutions such as Africa’s Great Green Wall as being especially promising. At the One Planet Summit, a new 'High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People' was launched. The 50-State coalition committed to protecting 30% of land and seas worldwide by 2030 and calls on all States to join before the UN Biodiversity Summit COP15. And the Sahel region's Great Green Wall Initiative got a major boost, receiving at least 14 billion US dollars in new funding. Main Goal of UN in 2021 Is Coalition for Carbon Neutrality The main goal of the United Nations in 2021, Mr. Guterres said, is to build a truly global coalition for carbon neutrality. He spoke of a new momentum emerging, with many large emitters already having committed to achieving zero net emissions by mid-century, adding that every country, city and business must adopt an ambitious roadmap to achieve the same goal. The time has come, he said, to ‘shift the fiscal burden from taxpayers to polluters and to align public and private financial flows with the Paris Agreement commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals.’ The UN chief underscored the urgent need to address the lack of adequate funding to help the most vulnerable adapt to the effects of climate change, with adaptation efforts currently accounting for only 20% of climate finance, and only 14% of climate finance dedicated to the least developed countries. This was far from enough, he said, ‘especially to protect small island States, which face an existential threat’, adding that this year’s UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, taking place in Glasgow in November ‘cannot be another missed opportunity.’ The need for climate action has clearly now become a top priority for the world’s people. Speaking in London yesterday during a virtual event to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first meeting of the UN General Assembly, Mr. Guterres spoke of a global survey conducted by the UN last year where more than 1.5 million people in 195 countries shared their short- and long-term priorities. The survey report showed that respondents in all regions identified climate change and environmental issues as the number one long-term global challenge. Source:UN Author:UN Date:January 11, 2021