From the official launch of the Principles for Responsible Banking to the more than 150 proposals for nature-based solutions to the climate crisis, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) made great strides in pushing for climate action during the week of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly. The Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, which took place on 23 September, put themes of UNEP’s work at centre stage, with the organization unveiling several important initiatives as part of the outcome of the negotiations.
“This had to be a summit of action plans, not platitudes,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his closing remarks. “I thank you for delivering.”
Some of the main highlights of the summit included 77 countries—many in the industrialized world—committing to net zero carbon emissions by 2050; over 100 leaders in the private sector promising to accelerate their move into the green economy; small island states pledging carbon neutrality and 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030;
and the UN pension fund—an autonomous body that manages US$68 billion in assets—announcing it will divest from companies in the coal energy sector and make no new investments in it.
A few examples of UN Environment Programme’s initiatives:
One of the nine summit action points designated by the Secretary-General was using nature-based solutions as a cost-effective and immediate way to address the climate crisis. With the help of the UN Environment Programme, more than 150 nature-based solutions to cut carbon emissions were announced, including conserving 30 per cent of the earth’s land and waters by 2030, and protecting the Central African Forest and the 60 million people who depend on it.
The Emissions Gap Report
An advance chapter of the 2019 Emissions Gap Report, UNEP’s flagship publication on progress towards greenhouse gas reductions, was released on 21 September focusing on the G20 countries. A 10-year review of the report was also published on 22 September deducing that while emissions are now almost exactly what early reports predicted for 2020, advances in technology and the will to act mean we are poised to cut greenhouse gas emissions faster.
Champions and Young Champions of the Earth Award
The annual Champions of the Earth prize - for outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector - saw Ant Forest, Costa Rica, Fridays for Future, Katharine Hahoe and Patagonia awarded. While the Young Champions of the Earth for 2019 were Adjany Costa from Angola, Anna Luisa Beserra from Brazil, Louise Mabulo from the Phillippines, Marianna Muntianu from the Russian Federation, Molly Burhans from the United States, Omar Itani from Lebanon and Sonika Manandhar from Nepal.
Additional events and activities
- UNEP at the UN General Assembly highlights
- Clean air commitments made as part of UN Climate Action Summit activities
- In support of climate action, Cool Coalition partners announce huge push on efficient, climate-friendly cooling
- Faiths for Forests campaign launched at Climate Action Summit
- UNEP and German Ministry for Environment launch GO for SDGs to accelerate and scale the green economy transition
- Youth Climate Summit, Social Good Summit and more
- Video games industry levels up in fight against climate change
- Young leaders take the stage to share solutions and hope to tackle climate crisis