International initiatives to confront climate change
As the annual COP (Conference of the Parties) gatherings around the globe conclude with weak resolutions that make little or no progress towards meaningful international action to halt the inexorable increase in greenhouse gas emissions, the onus moves more towards initiatives by individuals and organizations such as those included on this page. The IPCC talks have now moved to a meeting in Paris in 2015 to agree internationally a plan that is to be put into effect in 2020. This is merely an example of failure at the international level. Progress, if it happens at all, will come from initiatives such as detailed here.
In October 2005, representatives of 18 leading world cities met in London to discuss joining forces to tackle global warming and climate change. The representatives saw the need for action and cooperation on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pledged to work together towards achieving that goal. At the end of the conference, a communiqué was signed which recognised the need for cities to take action and to cooperate on reducing climate emissions. The cities also promised a number of action points, including most notably the creation of procurement policies and alliances to accelerate the uptake of climate-friendly technologies and influence the market place. In August 2006, the initiative was further strengthened when former President Clinton and the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone announced a partnership between the Clinton Climate Initiative and the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group (since then renamed "C40"). This new partnership pledged to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world. link
November 2016: World mayors gather to discuss Trump-era climate plan. Mayors from members of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group were gathering under the chairmanship of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo to plot their strategy for fighting climate change in the face of skepticism from US President-elect Donald Trump. The C40 groups 85 cities including London, New York, Vancouver, Hong Kong and Seoul. link
March 2016: 54th corporation joins RE100. India's biggest auto maker, Tata Motors, is the latest corporate behemoth to commit to using 100% renewable electricity joining BMW, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Nike, Google, Microsoft and Adobe and many others. link
June 2016: Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. Cities in six continents joined up to form the world's largest alliance to combat climate change. More than 7,100 cities in 119 countries formed the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, a network for helping exchange information on such goals as developing clean energy, organizers said. Cities are responsible for an estimated 75% of carbon emissions and consume 70% of global energy, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. link
December 2015: Climate change ‘tragedy of the horizon’. Mike Carney, governor of the Bank, said that Bloomberg, the UN special envoy for cities and climate change, had “an unparalleled track record of execution in a broad range of fields and his lifelong commitment to open and transparent financial markets make him the ideal leader for the taskforce”. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, is to head a new global taskforce aimed at highlighting the financial exposure of companies to the risk of climate change. link
Clinton, Bloomberg fight climate change.
Bill Clinton’s network and influence with Michael Bloomberg’s billions of dollars provide a combination for dealing with climate change, the two men hope. The former president and New York mayor recently merged their climate-change initiatives. link
February 2014: C40 cities almost double climate actions over 2 years. The world’s 63 biggest cities have almost doubled the activities they undertake to reduce climate change since 2011, according to a report from the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. The cities have reported more than 8,000 climate actions that have been implemented, with 41% of these taking place citywide. The C40 cities represent 600 million people worldwide, 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and 21%of gross domestic product. link
March 2013: Summit of city mayors in S. Africa, February 2014. A summit of city mayors will convene in February 2014 in Johannesburg, to discuss ways to fight global climate change. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who serves as chairman of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, announced plans along with Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau for the fifth biennial C40 Cities Mayors Summit. link
June 2012: 48 cities to cut 248 million tons of pollution. Four dozen of the world’s largest cities are attempting to cut 248 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution by 2020, according to the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will deliver the news at the Rio+20 Earth Summit this week. link
June 2011: World Bank throws weight behind green mega-cities push. The World Bank and the C40 are to join forces to accelerate climate-related investments in many of the world's largest cities. New York City mayor and C40 chairman Michael Bloomberg said that the partnership would make it easier for city authorities to access finance for low carbon and climate adaptation initiatives from the World Bank and other lenders. link
San Francisco and Seattle top the 10 climate-ready cities in the U.S. link
July 2013: UN needs a Plan 'B' for climate change. The UN political forum on sustainable development (HLPF), set up in follow-up of the Rio+20 Conference, will meet for the first time in September 2013. It is meant to provide the world with political leadership on sustainable development, follow up and review progress on past international commitments and ensure “appropriate consideration of new and emerging sustainable development challenges”. Every four years the forum will convene at the level of heads of state and government in connection with the UN General Assembly, an important opportunity for international agenda-setting and political leadership. The forum will convene annually under the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), including a meeting of ministers. The Forum is meant to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), which was established in follow up of the original 1992 Rio Conference. link
June 2012: Government have given up on the planet. George Monbiot critiques Rio conclusion. It is, perhaps, the greatest failure of collective leadership since the First World War. The Earth's living systems are collapsing, and the leaders of some of the most powerful nations – the United States, the UK, Germany and Russia – could not even be bothered to turn up and discuss it. Those who did attend the Earth summit in Rio last week solemnly agreed to keep stoking the destructive fires: sixteen times in their text they pledged to pursue “sustained growth”, the primary cause of the biosphere's losses. link
Pre-summit report: As thousands of people prepare to convene in
Brazil for the Earth summit, scientists
warned that the planet faces grave threats, and was in dire straits. link
(A commentary from the Guardian newspaper contrasts the possibilities and the anticipated downsides.) In 2012, 20 years after the first Earth Summit, global leaders will return to Rio de Janeiro to assess progress made and chart a course forward to ensure future generations can prosper in a world of increasingly limited resources. To coordinate the business contribution at Rio+20, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and the United Nations Global Compact have formed BASD 2012, an inclusive coalition that will serve as the business voice at the Rio+20 Summit. link
April 2012: Guardians
for the future: safeguarding the world from environmental crisis.
Launched at ClimateWeekNYC 2014, RE100 is a global campaign working with the world’s most influential businesses on their journeys to becoming 100% powered by renewables.The latest available data (2014) from (45) RE100 companies shows that those in the retail sector have switched the largest amount of electricity to renewables (10,764,000 megawatt/hours in 2014), while those in the Information and Communication Technology sector are closest to reaching their 100% renewable electricity goals (on average they are 64% of the way there). Taking into account company interim and end goals for reaching 100% renewable electricity, RE100 projects that the current group of 53 RE100 companies will reach an average of 80% renewable electricity by 2020. “The good news is that RE100 companies in every sector have made progress towards their 100% goals – or in some cases, have already got there”, says link. Looking more closely at the options being used, RE100 has identified a trend for IT companies building new research labs and data centers to use power purchasing agreements and on-site generation, while many European companies are making the most of credible options to purchase 'green power’ directly from the grid.
January 2016: 53 companies achieve 50% renewable energy. The 53 corporations that committed to 100% renewable energy are half the way there, expected to reach 80% renewable electricity by 2020, says the RE100 annual report. Launched in 2014 with 13 companies, RE100 grew to 53 over the past year. On average, the IT sector is furthest along; they are 64% there. In terms of amounts of renewables added, the retail sector leads. link
The Carbon War Room - web site
The rate at which our carbon-industrial complex is consuming and destroying natural resources and increasing global CO2e emissions is threatening our future. Under business-as-usual, rising CO2e emissions from energy, industry, and land use will lead to catastrophic climate change with negative consequences for all of humankind. Climate change threatens to disrupt agriculture, intensify storms, incur droughts, and raise sea levels, among other effects. Large-scale environmental change will result in loss of wealth and life. A number of early effects, including saltwater intrusion due to sea level rise and shifts in snowmelt patterns, are already being felt.
Sir Richard Branson is a successful international entrepreneur and is Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group. Virgin is one of the world’s most recognized brands and has expanded into everything from air and ground travel to telecommunications, health, space travel and renewable energy through more than 200 companies’ in 29 countries worldwide
The Carbon War Room harnesses the power of entrepreneurs to implement market-driven solutions to climate change. The world needs entrepreneurial leadership to create a post-carbon economy. The War Room’s unique approach focuses on bringing together successful entrepreneurs, business leaders, policy experts, researchers, and thought leaders to focus on market-driven solutions. Our approach is to identify the barriers that are preventing market-based scale up of climate change solutions and thereby perpetuating the status quo. In addition to technology and policy gaps, these barriers include principal-agent problems, information gaps, and lack of common standards or metrics.
June 2015: Belize commits to a 100% clean energy future. Belize joins the Ten Island Challenge. As a regional leader in the use of renewable energy, this partnership with the Carbon War Room and Rocky Mountain Institute will allow Belize to make significant strides in realising its renewable energy production target of 89% in the electricity sector by 2033." link
December 2014: Caribbean islands and Carbon War Room. The Bahamas is joining the Ten Islands Challenge, committing to a 20MW solar project and other energy savings initiatives. The Ten Islands Challenge works to accelerate the transition of Caribbean island economies away from heavy a dependence on fossil fuels to renewable sources. link
December 2010: Branson's nonprofit Carbon War Room this week announced the creation of ShippingEfficiency.org, a site that ranks approximately 60,000 container ships, tankers, bulk carriers, cargo ships, cruise ships, and ferries with efficiency ratings. The site uses the United Nations' IMO methodology for Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) to rank vessels. It's a system that compares vessels against other ships of the same type and size, so a ferry won't be compared to a tanker. linkMay 2012: Figueres family member to head Carbon War Room. Say the name Figueres in Costa Rica and it's bound to get a reaction. José "Don Pepe" Figueres led the 1948 revolution, was president three times, nationalised the banks and gave women and black people the vote. His daughter Christiana is the UN's climate chief trying to steer almost 200 countries through the most complex international negotiations ever attempted; and her brother José María was one of Latin America's youngest ever presidents at the age of 39. Now José María – who coined the phrase "there's no planet B" when head of the World Economic Forum – has joined his sister in the fight for a global energy revolution by taking over as head of the climate change business thinktank Carbon War Room, which aims to get business to cut gigatonnes of carbon by sharing best practice information. link
March 2015: 26 European mayors come together on climate change. European capitals and metropolises represent more than 60 million inhabitants and have significant investment capacity (€2tn GDP). The statement announces their decision to join forces and strengthen the instruments that will lead toward energy and environmental transition. If climate change is global, solutions are first and foremost local. Because large cities are at the crossroads of these two levels, they are at the forefront of the fight against climate change. link
August 2013: Banks put price on Earth’s resources. A group of the world's biggest banks, including the World Bank, have agreed that the present economic system uses and often destroys the environment without paying to do so. And that, they say, is not sustainable. The 43 financial institutions are setting up a working party as a consequence of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012, also known as the Rio+20 summit, when the initial 39 large banks signed a Natural Capital Declaration. The banks are also concerned that some companies are using up natural resources so fast, with no thought for their own future, let alone that of the planet, that they will collapse. They want a way of warning them and ultimately withdrawing their credit unless the companies mend their ways. The declaration defined natural capital as "the Earth's natural assets (soil, air, water, flora and fauna), and the ecosystem services resulting from them, which make human life possible." link
June 2013: 10 countries have formed an international "Renewables Club" to scale renewable energy worldwide. Instead of focusing on "eliminating the bad" perhaps a shift toward "increasing the good" can accomplish the same goals. Proposed by Peter Altmaier, Germany's environment minister, founding members are: China, India, UK, Denmark, France, Germany, Morocco, South Africa, Tonga and United Arab Emirates. "As members of the Club we aim to lead by example," says Altmaier. "The Renewables Club is a political initiative of pioneering countries that are united by an important goal: a worldwide transformation of the energy system. We are determined to work together as advocates and implementers of renewable energy at a global level," he says. (Notice the absence of the US.) These 10 countries represent over 40% of global investments in renewable energy. link
December 2011: Over 340 corporate global leaders back 2°C challenge Communiqué. T
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