NEW YORK, USA – Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, addressed the opening of the UN climate action summit 2019, “will be watching you,” Thunbery said. “You are failing us, But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you, and if you choose to fail us, I say, we will never forgive you.”
Profiting from sustainability
The private sector had a chance to demonstrate how it can bring about real positive change, when 87 major companies, with a combined market capitalization of over US$2.3 trillion, over 4.2 million employees, and annual direct emissions equivalent to 73 coal-fired power plants, committed to setting climate targets across their operations.
These businesses include well-known brands such as Burberry, Danone, Ericsson, Electrolux, IKEA, and Nestlé. A number of these companies went a step further, by committing to “science-based targets”, which means that their corporate emissions cuts can be independently assessed.
Speaking at the UN global compact private sector forum, Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group, an Indian multinational conglomerate with over 200,000 employees, said that more and more business leaders are waking up to the fact that sustainability and profit go together, and that climate action represents the biggest business opportunity of the next few decades.
In the finance sector, some of the world’s largest pension funds and insurers, responsible for directing more than $2 trillion in investments, have joined together to form the asset owner alliance, which committed to moving their portfolios to carbon-neutral investments by 2050. The members of the Alliance are already engaging with companies in which they are investing, to ensure that they are decarbonizing their business models.
Harrison Ford (actor and environmental activist) on the importance of rainforests during the UN climate action summit 2019, by firstname.lastname@example.org
Using the power of nature is believed to be one of the most effective and immediate ways to address the climate crisis. Strengthening natural ecosystems such as forests, for example, is one such solution: more forests means more capacity for carbon capture, and replanting mangrove forests provides an effective and cheap natural barrier against coastal floods and shoreline erosion.
Monday saw the launch of several initiatives designed to boost nature-based solutions. These include the global campaign for nature, which plans to conserve around 30 percent of the earth’s lands and oceans by 2030; a high-level panel for the sustainable ocean economy, which will build resilience for the ocean and marine-protected areas; and the Central African forest initiative promises to protect the region’s forest cover, which provides livelihoods for some 60 million people.
Cleaning up cities
It is now possible to construct buildings that are 100 percent net-zero carbon emitters, and the zero carbon buildings for all initiative is pledging to make all buildings – new build and existing – net zero carbon by 2050. This could potentially lead to a $1 trillion investment in developing countries, by 2030.
A total of 2000 cities committed to placing climate risk at the centre of their decision-making, planning and investments: this includes launching 1,000 bankable, climate-smart urban projects, and creating innovative financing mechanisms.
Tackling traffic congestion and pollution is the aim of the action towards climate friendly transport initiative, which includes actions to plan city development in a way that minimises travel, shift from fossil-fuelled vehicles to non-motorized and public transport, and increase the use of zero-emission technologies.