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 2015 IPCC talks in Paris were meant to reach an agreement 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.
- C40 Cities Initiative
- The Elders
- United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+20
- RE-100 – The Climate Group
- Carbon War Room
- Other news
C40 Cities Initiative
C40 is recognized as the leading global network committed to addressing climate change in order to improve the health of our people, our cities, and our planet. link
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
September 2018: C40 cities lead way in curbing emissions. Twenty-seven cities, including Warsaw, Barcelona and Sydney, saw CO2 emissions peak in 2012 and then go into decline. This new analysis by the C40 group shows that 27 of these cities (of the 96 major urban centres around the world) saw their emissions peak by 2012 and then fall over a five-year period. Those emissions are now at least 10% lower than at their zenith. Emissions declined by 2% every year on average, while their economies expanded by 3% annually. 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
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
May 2011: 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
The Elders is an international non-governmental organisation of public figures noted as elder statesmen brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007 and includes Desmond Tutu and former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan. They represent an independent voice, not bound by the interests of any nation, government or institution.
On climate change. The historic climate agreement reached at COP21 in Paris between 196 nations was a rare and encouraging display of global solidarity and hope. The Elders believe that in the years ahead, leadership is required all levels to deliver a sustainable future. Unless governments act quickly and deliberately we risk creating, through our own actions, one of the greatest injustices in human history, denying future generations their right to a habitable, sustainable planet. If we fail to act now, the whole of humanity stands to lose.
A solution is possible. We possess the tools and the technology to move towards a low-carbon economy and end our reliance on fossil fuels. With bold, transformative leadership at the global level and insight and innovation from the grassroots, we can unite around the shared vision of a sustainable, equitable world. The Elders stand for solidarity and justice for climate change’s victims. We call for visionary leadership now, not tomorrow, to set us on course for a carbon-neutral future. As former leaders, The Elders know that this will not be easy. But if there was ever a cause to unite mankind, climate change must surely be it. link
January 2014: Kofi Annan: A united call for action on climate change – link
May 2015: Kofi Annan: ‘We must challenge climate-change sceptics who deny the facts’ – link
April 2014: Why are The Elders focusing on climate change? link
UN Conference on sustainability Development – Rio+20
November 2014: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says ‘No Plan B’ for protecting planet. He said sustainability must be built into everything we do, and education is the starting point. Boys and girls must learn about global citizenship, to prepare them for the responsibility of safeguarding our common future. 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
June 2012: Rio Earth summit nears as scientists warn planet faces grave threats. 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
Diplomats agree on “weak” text for Rio+20 green summit (A commentary from the Guardian newspaper contrasts the possibilities and the anticipated downsides.)
April 2012: Guardians for the future: safeguarding the world from environmental crisis.
The Rio+20 summit in June this year will discuss “an ombudsperson or high commissioner for future generations to promote sustainable development”. However, a number of countries are currently trying to remove this concept from the draft. Why would any nation be against such a win-win proposal? Their main concern seems to be about proliferation of bureaucracy and a drain on existing limited resources. However, the opposite is likely to be the case, since an ombudsperson would actually bring more coherence to policy making. Current, narrowly defined policy-making approaches often lead to unintended negative consequences and unnecessary costs in redressing these. Integrated thinking and long-term time horizons can help avoid these, often even in the short term. link
January 2012: Bypassing Kyoto policy failures. This summer’s sustainable development conference in Brazil, known as Rio+20, is emerging as an overt attempt by U.N. officials to shift away from the divisive politics of climate change to a broader debate on the green economy and how to bring it to developing nations. On the heels of arguably little movement on an international climate pact during U.N.-sponsored talks in South Africa, Mexico and Denmark, officials here now say they view Rio+20 as a way to get past intractable policy fights between developed and developing nations over greenhouse gas emissions cuts, to focus on core issues like trade and technology. link
RE-100 – The Climate Group
Launched at ClimateWeekNYC in 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 Emily Farnworth, RE100 Campaign Director at The Climate Group. 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. link
January 2018: RE100 companies nearing 80% renewable goal. 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. link
89 RE100 companies have made a commitment to go ‘100% renewable’. Read about the actions they are taking and why – link
The Carbon War Room
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.
Richard Branson – founder
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: Carbon War Room targets 60,000 ships. 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. link
May 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
September 2017: Two major U.S. banks commit to renewable power by 2020. JPMorgan and Citigroup announced their pledge to be powered by 100% renewables by 2020 as they joined the RE100 international climate change action event in New York. link
March 2017: Cities outpace governments in race to curb climate change. More than 2,500 cities have issued plans to cut carbon emissions to the United Nations since late 2014, setting an example to almost 200 nations that reached a Paris Agreement in December 2015 to fight global warming. 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. Large cities 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. The Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change has confirmed that over 340 companies from 38 countries have now signed up to its latest Communiqué calling on the world’s governments to take ambitious action to limit average global temperature increases to below 2°C. – companies here