We are at a crossroads

This is a moment of massive decision and consequence, whether we choose to see that or not. By Nigel Topping and Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champions | May 13, 2022

We are at a crossroads.

As we conclude the May Ministerial Meeting in Copenhagen, we are conscious of the urgent need for all non-State actors to support governments to hold warming to 1.5C. Their efforts to help implement the commitments, ambition, and initiatives of the UNFCCC’s Paris Agreement – further recognized within the Glasgow Climate Pact – will build momentum and further action for the COP27 Sharm el-Sheikh agenda and beyond.

In close collaboration with the Marrakech Partnership, we – as the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions for COP26 and COP27 – are working with these actors to ensure that summits such as this one result in project-ready solutions, which are matched by the financial flows required for a just and rapid transition.

Through our flagship campaigns (Race to Zero, Race to Resilience and the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero), we are already seeing signs of progress towards the 2030 Breakthroughs needed to reduce emissions, adapt to climate impacts, and mobilise finance at scale – all of which have been core priorities in our discussions at this week’s Ministerial. Moreover, we are presently convening non-State actors, alongside communities on the frontlines of climate change, to identify the breakthrough actions that can be taken to address losses and damages to climate impacts.

Last year at COP26, the world agreed that we need to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C, which must be the floor not the ceiling of ambition. But in the current geopolitical context, and coupled with the stark findings of the latest two IPCC reports, it is clear that the pulse of 1.5C is even weaker than it was in Glasgow.

We are at a crossroads. With every tenth of a degree of warming, we choose to inflict more pain on ourselves, our businesses and communities, our children and their children. This is a moment of massive decision and consequence, whether we choose to see that or not. The more we emit now, the more expensive and radical the actions we will require in a few years.

What is missing, above all, is the deployment of resources to developing countries, many of whom are already being crippled by the impacts of climate change. If we don’t find a way of mobilising all actors, reaching our headline climate targets will be impossible. Four areas, therefore, that we will focus on with partners will include:

  1. Mobilisation of finance and investment to developing countries- for mitigation and adaptation
  2. Reduction of reliance on debt instruments, which makes it harder for countries to borrow to invest in resilience and adaptation, even though those investments would reduce the risk and cost of future impacts
  3. Expansion of insurance coverage, the absence of which makes climate impacts more expensive for the most vulnerable countries, and traps countries in a negative spiral by making it extremely difficult to raise the finance needed to address impacts and build future resilience.
  4. Projectising everything, using the framework of clear 2030 breakthrough goals, we will work tirelessly with partners to accelerate the translation of commitments into actions

Over the course of the next few months, in the lead up to COP27, we will convene a range of regional meetings with different stakeholders on these subjects – including governments, development banks, local financial institutions, local project developers, as well as international finance and philanthropy – to scale-up resources for mitigation, adaptation, resilience within a holistic sustainable development approach. After all, success – which is far from certain right now – will require us to go all in, all together.

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