Paris Anniversary Crystallizes Recent Climate Momentum

On Dec. 12th, countries, companies, U.S. states and other key global actors marked the five-year anniversary of the Paris climate agreement with a virtual summit filled with announcements around new and recent pledges to address climate change. Hosted by the United Nations, United Kingdom, Chile, Italy and France, government and non-governmental leaders demonstrated their commitment to the Paris Agreement and the multilateral process.

“Today’s event helped crystallize the recent momentum toward enhanced climate ambition. Five years after the Paris Agreement was signed, and with the ‘Paris rulebook’ in place, the accord still provides a valuable framework for action. But one thing is as true now as it was five years ago: Success lies not the text of the agreement, but in the commitments countries make to cut emissions and the actions they take to meet them. Much more ambition is needed to reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change.

“The good news is that the last three months have seen a notable upswing in momentum on climate action, driven by the EU’s commitment to reduce emissions 55% below 1990 by 2030, China’s 2060 carbon neutrality pledge, the UK’s target of reducing emissions 68% by 2030, and net-zero-by-2050 goals by Korea and Japan. All eyes will be on the U.S. once President-elect Biden takes office on January 20, 2021.”

•    Nathaniel Keohane, Senior Vice President for Climate, Environmental Defense Fund

In the virtual event, many countries called out pledges they have made in the lead up to today’s summit. The EU stressed the importance of multilateralism, underscoring the importance of the global reach of the Paris Agreement, and put forward its new ambitious commitment, agreed only yesterday by European heads of State. China also expressed support for multilateralism and modestly upped its Paris pledge for 2030, increasing the cut in carbon intensity to 65%, (previously 60-65%) below 2005 levels, the share of non-fossil fuel consumption to 25% (from 20%), and solar and wind capacity to 1,200 gigawatts (from 1000 GW). The UK, on the back of its new 68%-below-1990-by-2030 commitment announced last week,  said it would stop financing oil and gas projects, Countries also focused on the importance of climate finance, with developing countries calling for more support and countries, such as Japan and Germany coming out with new finance pledges.

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