Action in the real economy: Turning the what into the how

By Climate Champions | December 11, 2023

Dubai The UN Climate Change High-Level Champions recognized the commitment, collaboration and concrete climate action of business, investors, cities and regions, and civil society, including local communities and Indigenous Peoples, at their closing Global Climate Action High-Level Event at COP28 – Uniting on the Pathway to 2030 and Beyond.

The High-Level Champions were joined at the event by representatives of the COP27 and COP28 Presidencies and non-State entities including Samata Pattison, CEO, Black Pearl and Ms. Mitzi Jonelle Tan, Co-founder of Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines. Parties were also invited to comment during the plenary. 

The event marked the culmination of the Global Climate Action thematic program, including the Marrakech Partnership events under the leadership of the High-Level Champions, representing the high-impact work of  many non-Party stakeholders over the course of the year to drive ambition and action in the real economy.

Over 40 events were delivered at COP28 by the High-Level Champions in conjunction with the Marrakech Partnership, showcasing leadership and benefits of climate action from diverse actors across the real economy. They also demonstrated a commitment to supporting a strong outcome at COP28 in response to the Global Stocktake and helping Parties close the necessary gaps by 2030.

This included progress across the Breakthrough Agenda with 27 countries endorsing a new Buildings Breakthrough to make near-zero emission and resilient buildings the new normal by 2030. In parallel, the Cement and Concrete Breakthrough was launched to accelerate the decarbonisation of these sectors.

These were endorsed by eight of the leading UAE real estate developers who with support from the High-Level Champions delivered a blueprint to decarbonize the built environment.

The UN Climate Change High-Level Champions and UNFCCC also co-hosted the Just Energy Transition Collaboration Dialogues and launched the Just Energy Transitions Collaborative Framework to accelerate the development of energy projects with direct impact on local communities.

In addition, more than 200 farmers, cities, businesses, financial institutions, civil society and philanthropies called for the transformation of global food systems that account for 30% of emissions and 63 countries endorsed a new initiative to empower local and regional leaders in the creation and execution of ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

At the time of writing, over USD 650 million has also been promised for Loss and Damage. 

Protecting Nature for people and planet 

COP28 saw governments and the private sector coalesce at an unprecedented scale around the transformational potential of natural ecosystems to build resilience and keep 1.5°C within reach. 

More than USD 2.6 billion was mobilized for integrated nature-climate action towards COP30 in Brazil. Also, 49 countries representing around 60% of the world’s mangroves in partnership with over 50 non-State actors are now supporting the Mangrove Breakthrough targets to restore and protect 15 million hectares of mangroves, and to halt mangrove destruction by 2030.

In addition, over 150 businesses and financial institutions set climate and nature targets under the Science-Based Target Network and Science-Based Targets Initiatives, building clear momentum around Nature Positive Climate Action.

A total of 18 countries have also committed to an integrated approach to implementing national climate, nature and land restoration plans, and to collaborate through 11 country-led partnerships and initiatives. A UAE-Belem ‘COP-to-COP’ partnership was also announced to mobilize partners and resources for integrated nature-climate action towards COP30 in Brazil.

Marginalized communities were placed front and centre through initiatives such as the Gender-Responsive Just Transitions & Climate Action Partnership. Endorsed by over 60 Parties, the Partnership is a response to the disproportionate impact climate change has on women and girls and aims to protect their access to employment as the shift to a low-carbon future gets underway.

H.E. Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 said:  “A just transition means ensuring no one is left behind and that all voices are part of the climate solutions conversation. I am honoured to have shared the stage at COP28 with members of the Indigenous Peoples communities. As there is no path to fulfilling the Paris Agreement without protecting and restoring our natural resources, their role as guardians of our global biodiversity is critical. I am also heartened by the significant financial commitments made at COP28 to restore and protect mangroves, coral reefs and ocean systems. The nature-climate agenda is central to the response to the Global Stocktake.”

Finance: the priority that makes all others possible

Today, developing countries face a triple injustice: having done the least to cause it, they continue to pay the highest human cost of climate change and the highest price for capital to address its impacts.

Emerging markets and some other developing countries will need around USD2.4 trillion a year by 2030 to fund the transition. In response, developing an investable and bankable pipeline of impactful climate projects in these countries has become an urgent global priority. The Champions, the UN Regional Commissions and the COP27 and COP28 Presidencies identified a pipeline of investable projects through the Regional Platforms for Climate Projects initiative. 19 projects among those presented in the regional forums secured either partial or full funding valued at around USD 1.46 billion with a further 30 projects in advanced talks with financiers. 

These projects come from a pool of over 450 opportunities for investment in climate projects with an aggregate funding requirement in excess of USD 500 billion outlined in the Regional Platforms for Climate Projects, Assets to Flows II, One Year On report.

Turning pledges into action 

New data from the Race to Zero campaign shows that – through the leadership of 26 Partners and 31 Accelerators – more than 13,500 organisations are taking action to transition to net zero and halve global emissions by 2030 with a doubling of membership since its launch in 2020. 

23% of Fortune 500 companies and 58% of FTSE 100 companies are now in the Race and  membership has more than doubled in the Middle East and North Africa region. Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing region in the campaign. More than 650 leading financial institutions are now part of Race to Zero partner initiatives, and more than 450 of them have set interim targets

In addition, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME), which form the backbone of the global economy representing 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide, now make up over half of the members of the Race.

Similarly, robust pledges set by the Race to Resilience campaign’s partners would now enhance the resilience of 3.17 billion people by 2030, with action already underway boosting the resilience of 1.87 billion people, according to the campaign’s second progress report.

The Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, launched by the High-Level Champions and the COP27 Presidency at the last COP presents 30 global adaptation outcome targets that are urgently needed by 2030 to increase the resilience of 4 billion people. The agenda informs both national government and non-State action and as evidenced in its first implementation report, a growing number of insurers, banks and investors recognize the risks of inaction and the emerging opportunities related to adaptation and resilience.

This year has also seen an increase in regional climate finance action with the launch of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) Latin America and Caribbean Network. Furthermore, GFANZ Africa Network, chaired by the High-Level Champion for COP27, has delivered its work plan that aims at near-term action with tangible outputs across three core pillars of work: capacity building on transition finance and planning, enhancing project pipeline and de-risking, and scaling high-integrity carbon markets in Africa.

Climate finance’s global champion 

The closing event also marks Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin’s final intervention as the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27, a position he has held since 2022.

Commenting on his tenure Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin said: “There is no solution to climate change that doesn’t involve a rapid scaling up of finance to climate projects in developing countries. The time to question whether these are investable and scalable is over. This is evidenced by the work started in 2022 to build a pipeline of investable projects through the Regional Platforms for Climate Projects initiative. We also need to urgently scale finance for adaptation. COP27 saw the landmark establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund  and I am pleased to see money flowing into this at COP28. Yet this is still a drop in the ocean compared to the colossal need for funding, estimated in the hundreds of billions annually.”


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