Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The UN Climate Summit: Eight Action Areas

The UN Secretary-General has invited leaders from Government, business, finance and civil society to come to the Climate Summit on 23 September and make bold commitments to action in areas that are critical for keeping global temperature increases to less than two degrees Celsius.

The eight Action Areas are: Agriculture, cities, energy, financing, forests, petroleum and industry, resilience and transportation.


Food production will need to increase by at least 60 per cent over the next 35 years to provide food security for the 9 billion people expected to be living on the planet by 2050. The changing climate directly impacts food security and the supply of nutritious, ample and safe sources of reasonably priced food for the planet’s 7 billion people as well as their growing demands. The warming of the planet is already affecting yields of crucial crops . Moreover, approximately one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions come from land-use, making sustainable practices in agriculture critical.

Action Plan

The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture aims to enable 500 million farmers worldwide to practice climate-smart agriculture: increasing agricultural productivity and incomes, strengthening the resilience of food systems and farmers’ livelihoods and curbing the emission of greenhouse gases related to agriculture. The alliance is a voluntary coalition of a broad range of stakeholders: governments, food producers, farmers, scientists, civil society, multilateral organizations and the private sector.

For example, The New Partnership for Africa’s Development has worked with a number of international and non-governmental organizations to create the Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance to help 25 million farmers become more resilient and food secure by 2025.


The Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture expects at least 20 countries to join by the Summit and agree to promote climate-smart approaches by 2020. At least 20 companies and organizations also are expected to pledge to support climate-smart approaches to agriculture, food security and nutrition. Each partner is expected to announce new measures to enable agriculture systems to become more productive, resilient and reduce the intensity of emissions.

In addition to the launch of the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture, a series of complementary initiatives will also be presented that address:

Adaptation and resilience of agricultural and food system livelihoods affected by a changing climate
Adoption of practices that will reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants by agriculture and food systems
Increased sourcing of commodities which are produced using climate-smart practices by large food companies
Increased availability of insurance to compensate farmers for assets and production damaged through of extreme weather events, and more small farmers able to access insurance
More effective, useful and accessible farmer-based research on options for climate-smart agriculture and food-systems practices


Responsible for about 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, cities can play a critical role in reducing these emissions – especially as their populations surge over the coming decades and many cities struggle with aging and inadequate infrastructure. Climate change increases the risk and stress to water, sewer, drainage and transportation systems as well as infrastructure, as these systems are more exposed to the impact of increasingly powerful hurricanes, typhoons and other natural disasters. Clear greenhouse gas reduction goals, viable strategies, enhanced capacity and tangible financing are essential for cities to reduce emissions and become increasingly resilient. Download as PDF

Action Plan

City, state and national Governments are working with public and private sector partners to help cities slash their output of greenhouse gases and withstand natural disasters. These strategies center on data collection and use advancing climate legislation aligning strategies and developing programmes in critical sectors as well as providing concrete and viable financing options for urban solutions.


Mayors Compact: The Mayors Compact welcomes mayors to tap into existing networks of local, county, provincial and state Governments to strengthen and expand national Government pledges to reduce emissions. This will contribute to an aggregation of all city emission targets, and an initiative by leading city networks to commit to a transparent approach to report on city emission reduction targets and strategies.

Sub-National Climate Action: Leading global, state and regional Government groups are creating a transparent reporting platform – the States and Regions Compact – to set targets, reduce emissions and strengthen cities’ ability to withstand natural disasters. These governmental groups also are working to move climate legislation through their Parliaments and legislative bodies before the Summit and in 2015.

City Climate Finance Leadership Alliance: The alliance aims to build an alliance among key partners and programmes that aims to meet cities growing need for financing to address the challenges of climate change. The commitments of participants will envelope a set of principles, a new financing facility, and a marketplace to match financial and technical assistance with projects aimed at lowering carbon outputs and increasing the resiliency of cities in developing countries.


About 80 per cent of the world”s energy is supplied through the combustion of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. At the same time, energy demand is growing along with expanding global wealth, a world population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, and efforts to provide electricity to the 1.3 billion people now living without it. A shift toward renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and geothermal — along with greater energy efficiency in appliances, buildings, lighting and vehicles — is essential to use the world’s resources sustainably, diversify economies and successfully address the challenge of climate changes. Sustainable Energy for All, an initiative led by the United Nations and World Bank, has set 2030 as a goal for doubling the global rate of energy efficiency improvement, doubling renewable energy’s share in the global energy mix, and ensuring universal access to modern energy services. Download as PDF

Action Plan

Governments, private business and civil society organizations are working to expand, strengthen and unify the numerous initiatives meant to boost action in the energy sector. Energy efficiency initiatives underway include partnerships on efficient lighting, performance standards for appliances, building efficiency standards, vehicle fuel efficiency and reducing the emission of black carbon from freight and private vehicles. Renewable energy initiatives include a renewable energy corridor uniting Eastern and Southern African power pools and an action framework to move the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) toward a greater use of renewables. Both initiatives aim to use regional and global partnerships to meet growing energy demand.


Energy Efficiency Accelerator Platform: This platform serves as an umbrella for action by cities, regions and national governments, along with businesses and civil society organizations, to commit to adopt their own ambitious targets and action plans. The aim is to double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and commitments can be made through various energy efficiency accelerators. These frameworks aim to accelerate the use of energy efficient products, buildings and establish energy efficient policies.

Global Fuel Economy Initiative
Lighting Efficiency Accelerator
Appliances Efficiency Accelerator
Buildings Efficiency Accelerator
District Efficiency Accelerator
Renewable Energy

The Africa Clean Energy Corridor (ACEC): The corridor is a regional initiative to transform Africa’s energy mix through the development of renewable resources and the creation of a clean 5,000-mile electricity transmission grid from Egypt to South Africa. The aim is to support the sustainable growth of Africa’s energy needs. Endorsed by the countries of the Eastern Africa Power Pool and the Southern African Power Pool, the ACEC will accelerate the expansion of renewable energy by using a coordinated, regional approach to energy planning and development. At the same time, it will support Africa’s economic development.

Global Geothermal Alliance. The alliance will initially help support geothermal work under the ACEC. Its overall aim is to enhance cooperative efforts to use geothermal energy through dialogue and a platform for sharing. At the same time, it will develop best practices, knowledge, capacity building and innovative financing models.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Lighthouse Initiative: This initiative is a joint effort by SIDS and its partners to secure a clean energy future for these island countries through a transition to renewable energy. It will provide a framework of action to support this transformation: identifying efforts underway, pinpointing the gaps and barriers to renewables implementation, and ensuring crucial analytical data, information and resources are available to achieve a sustainable energy future. The SIDS transition to greater use of renewable energy also can provide valuable lessons for the global community.


Shifting the global economy onto a low-carbon and climate resilient development pathway requires an investment of tens of billions of dollars. To achieve this, both Governments and key financial actors must commit to massively scaling up public and private financing to meet the growing challenge of climate change. Download as PDF

Action Plan

The Secretary-General views climate finance as an essential component of the climate change debate and the ongoing international negotiations. Progress in mobilizing climate finance strengthens the prospects of concluding the ongoing talks on the new climate agreement in 2015.

The Climate Finance session at the Summit will demonstrate that public finance is key to meeting the US$100 billion target of the Green Climate Fund. The session also will focus on public finance’s catalytic role, particularly through multilateral development banks, in unlocking private investments for low-carbon and climate-resilient economies.

On the private sector side, the session will stress the increasing private capital flows into low-carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure. These flows are finding secure and profitable investment opportunities that have the additional benefit of reducing risk exposure to climate change. The work of institutional investors, banks and development finance institutions will be featured. The overall financing picture also will include a broad set of provisions on boosting carbon pricing the growing use of capital markets, and promoting innovative financial instruments for climate and disaster-risk reduction.

Overall, the Climate Finance session aims to showcase the ambition and leadership of public and private sector actors in significantly expanding financing of low-carbon and climate-resilience activities and increasing their financial exposure to low-carbon and climate-smart assets, companies and technologies. It will also highlight the need for appropriate regulation and policies.


Green Finance: Declarations and commitments will be made by public and private sector actors to green their financial portfolios and expand the availability of financing through instruments such as climate bonds.

Green Regulations: Regulators and financial institutions will announce initiatives to work towards regulations that recognize the true cost of capital and climate risks.

Green Climate Fund: The Secretary-General is encouraging Governments to announce their contributions to the initial capitalization of the Green Climate Fund.


Forests and the services they offer society are crucial to sustainable development and human well-being. While many efforts to slow or halt deforestation have been successful, approximately 13 million hectares of forests continue to be lost each year, contributing up to 20 per cent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. The clearing of land linked to the development of agricultural commodities is a key factor behind deforestation. At the same time, about 2 billion hectares of degraded forests and other lands – all around the globe – need to be restored. Actions to combat deforestation and speed up the restoration of degraded lands will contribute to economic growth, poverty reduction and greater food security as well as help communities adapt to climate change and secure the rights and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities. Download as PDF

Action Plan

The United Nations, civil society organizations, indigenous peoples and the private sector are working together in a global effort to address deforestation and expand the restoration of forests. These efforts include a public-private partnership to eliminate deforestation within the agricultural commodity supply chains, and the creation of strong incentives to reward emission reductions from tropical forests countries.

One vital goal for the Summit is to advance commitments made by all relevant partners – including developing and developed countries and financial institutions – to REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, including through conservation, the sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest carbon stocks). Tropical forest countries are being urged to present priority actions for deforestation and forest restoration in their statements at the Summit, even if these actions are conditional on international support. Advanced economies are being urged to include financial incentives for REDD+ in their post-2020 climate change commitments, which could inform and catalyse action on REDD+ policy decisions and financing in 2015.


The New York Declaration on Forests: The New York Declaration on Forests lays out high-level goals to address deforestation and promote restoration and will be endorsed by countries, companies, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations. The Declaration will remain open for signing after the Summit up until the twenty-first session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015 in Paris. An accompanying “Action Agenda” will specify distinct actions that countries, companies, indigenous peoples and civil society can voluntarily take to achieve the initiative’s ambitions.

Implementation Commitments: The Declaration will be accompanied by the announcement of a number of significant, concrete and tangible implementation commitments by countries, multilateral institutions, subnational jurisdictions, companies, financial institutions, CSOs and IPs.

Petroleum and Industry

Reducing the production and emission of short-lived climate pollutants is essential to control global temperature increases. These pollutants, with relatively short lifetimes in the atmosphere of a few days to a few decades, are responsible for a substantial portion of global warming, especially in urban areas and environmentally sensitive regions of the world such as the Arctic. They also are detrimental to human health, agriculture and ecosystems. The primary short-lived climate pollutants are methane, carbon and tropospheric ozone but also include some hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) among others. Download as PDF

Action Plan

Governments, companies and civil society organizations are developing several initiatives to reduce the emission of short-lived climate pollutants, in such areas as oil and gas production, freight transport, municipal solid waste and cooling systems.


Oil and Gas Methane Partnership The Oil and Gas Methane Partnership has been established by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (CCAC) www.unep/ccac . It aims to provide a framework for identifying and reducing methane emissions from oil and gas producers. Committed companies will report their progress in a transparent, credible manner.

Global Green Freight Action Plan: The Global Green Freight Action Plan aims to improve the energy efficiency and environmental performance of global freight operations. Committed governments and companies will expand and harmonize green freight programs that reduce black carbon and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the movement of goods through various modes of transportation. They will also work to enhance fuel efficiency and energy security and foster innovation in the global freight transportation supply chain.

Pilot Auction Facility for Methane and Climate Mitigation: This initiative would launch a facility to design a new climate financing mechanism that aims to provide more certainty on carbon pricing and, ultimately, curb the output of methane and other climate pollutants. It would mirror the financial markets’ use of auctions and put options to control pricing.

Initiative on Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs): This initiative aims to link new commitments by governments to develop low-cost and safe alternatives to HFCs with the CCAC’s initiative on Promoting HFC Alternative Technology and Standards. The coalition’s initiative is meant to support the development and deployment of climate-friendly, energy-efficient alternatives and technologies, minimize HFC leaks through responsible management and encourage recovery, recycling, reclamation and eventual destruction of HFCs.

Reducing Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPs) from Municipal Solid Waste A coalition of partners now working to reduce SLCP emissions from municipal solid waste will be quadrupled to a global network of more than 100 cities, national Governments and private sector entities. The goal is to reach 1,000 cities by 2020. With support from national and city governments, the coalition aims to develop and carry out quantifiable plans for SLCP reduction from the waste sector. Public-private partnerships will be built to mobilize project financing and technology transfer and implement local actions to immediately reduce SLCP emissions. The impacts on emission reductions and human health, along with sustainable development benefits, will be measured and shared with coalition partners.


Climate change is increasing the incidence, frequency and magnitude of natural disasters and exacerbating the vulnerability of many countries and communities around the world. Climate-related hazards – whether drought, powerful typhoons or sea level rise – can have dire consequences on people, property, business, financial systems and state institutions. It is therefore essential to enhance their respective capacity to adapt and be resilient to a changing climate. Download as PDF

Action Plan

Both national and local Governments, the private sector, the scientific community and civil society have been working to mitigate the exposure of people and economic assets, build the resilience of communities and nations, and accelerate action on the ground. Partnerships are being built in this Action Area around four objectives:

strengthening the access and use of climate information
integrating the costs of climate-related risks into the finance and development sectors
risk financing
making cities resilient


Climate Information: This initiative will give farmers, policymakers and other decision-makers affected by climate change and potential impacts of extreme weather events the ability to access, interpret and then make essential decisions based on seasonal climate data and related information.

Integrating Disaster Risk and Resilience into the Financial System: This initiative aims to build a consortium of major financial institutions, regulatory, accounting and scientific institutions to help recognize the costs of disaster risk and the absence of resilience plans. For example, members of this consortium would commit to test the portion of their investments and assets that are at risk when a climate-related disaster with a 1-in-100-year magnitude occurs. They would then account for the risk in their investment portfolios and integrate incentives into resilience-building programs.

Innovation in Disaster and Climate Risk Fund: The scope, capabilities and coverage of existing facilities, such as the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility and Africa Risk Capacity, are being expanded to meet the needs of countries vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters.

Making Cities Resilient Acceleration Initiative: More than 1,800 cities are already committed to making their cities resilient. A consortia of national Governments, private sector and partner institutions are seeking to provide cities and local Governments worldwide with additional support, tools and services to carry out their commitments to building resilience.


Energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are expected to increase under a ‘business as usual’ scenario by nearly 50 per cent by 2030 and more than 80 per cent by 2050, compared with year-end 2009. This increase in emissions will be primarily caused by a projected surge in the global stock of vehicles. Already in 2009, transport contributed approximately one-quarter of energy-related global greenhouse gas emissions and was responsible for about one-fifth of energy use. Measures that reduce the demand for travel, including compact city planning combined with the large-scale expansion of public transport systems improvements in energy-efficient transportation systems along with the promotion of non-motorised transport, could save Governments, companies and individuals up to $70 trillion by 2050 as less money would need to be invested in vehicles, fuel and transportation infrastructure. Download as PDF

Action Plan

Governments, transport companies and associations, other private sector players and civil society organizations are planning bold action to reduce transport-related greenhouse gas emissions by expanding the use of public transportation, greater use of more efficient rail transportation, and the accelerated introduction of urban electric transport.


The Urban Electric Mobility Vehicles Initiative (UEMI): This initiative aims to reduce dependency on vehicles by using conventional sources of fuel and increasing the global market share of electric vehicles in cities to at least 30% by 2030. This would achieve a 30 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions in urban areas by 2050.

The International Union of Railways (UIC) Low-Carbon Sustainable Rail Transport Challenge: This initiative will reduce transport greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable transportation by combining improvements in rail sector energy efficiency with an expansion of rail’s share of transport activity. The initiative has set targets based on the International Energy Agency’s analysis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommended two-degree scenario. By 2050, the rail sector aims to achieve three goals: a 75 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions (1990 average value relative baseline) a doubling of rail’s share of passenger transportation (1990 baseline) and rail freight use exceeding road freight volumes by 50 per cent. Partnerships will be developed with transportation authorities to support this modal shift and progress will be supported with a robust system of monitoring verification and reporting.

The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) Declaration on Climate Leadership: Cities will face increasing traffic gridlock and pollution levels with projected increases in private motor vehicles. Through this initiative, UITP members are making a voluntary commitment to reduce carbon emissions and strengthen climate resilience within their cities and regions. The association’s goal is to double the market share of public transport use around the world by 2025 – a massive shift to public transport which would prevent the emission of half a billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent in the year 2025.

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