Published on 17 September 2018


Global Climate Action Summit: the planet climate between voluntarism and catastrophism

The global climate summit in San Francisco ended September 14. Mayors, governors, businesses and NGOs from around the world have called on world leaders to do more in the next two years to limit global warming.

San Francisco gathered mayors, governors, companies and investors in the Global Climate Action Summit

In San Francisco, the World Climate Summit ended with a mixture of urgency, alertness and optimism. Emergency, because the latest data show that action must be deployed on a large scale in the face of a climate that is racing faster than expected. Alert because the negotiations between States, the only signatories of the Paris Agreement, skate a few months of a conference, COP24, however crucial for the implementation of the agreement. Optimism finally because the summit also showed the voluntarism of local and private actors on the climate.

"We have never been more in need of multilateralism than at present, but when we need it most, the international order is called into question," said Patricia Espinosa, former Mexican minister overseeing climate negotiations at the United Nations. John Kerry, former chief of diplomacy Barack Obama wants to be even clearer: "I will tell you the truth: we are very far from the goal," said the one who negotiated the 2015 Paris agreement for states -United.

Badly engaged international negotiations

The coming months are described as crucial by many participants to relaunch the 2015 Paris climate agreement. In December, 190 signatory states will meet in Katowice, Poland, to agree on the rules for implementing the agreement. "The energy of Paris has been lost," lamented one of the few heads of state present in San Francisco, the Hungarian Janos Ader. "The future of civilization is at stake, this is the message we need to bring to Katowice". But the preparations for this meeting are deadlocked.

The method adopted in 2015 is unpublished: no sanction is planned for the countries. Each state sets its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, objectives for the moment largely insufficient to limit to 2 ° C the rise in global temperature before 2100. These will be revised in 2020. "This is which will determine whether the Paris agreement can be saved or not," says David Paul, Marshall Islands' Minister of Environment, threatened with sinking by the rising Pacific Ocean.

Private and local actors in relay

Regional leaders from Europe, Asia and the United States have said they can take over from failing states by speeding up the transition to electricity and clean vehicles. Cities with the most ambitious and fast-moving goals are found mainly in Europe and North America, in countries where emissions have been on the downward trend for a decade or more. But CO2 emissions by China, the world's biggest polluter, and the rest of Asia continue to grow strongly. In total, the world continues to emit more and more.

"It's in the cities that the biggest battle must be fought," said the mayor of Quito, Mauricio Rodas. His city is building its first metro and plans to restrict its historic center to clean vehicles. Like Warsaw, Buenos Aires or Cape Town, Quito has also joined New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and several US states such as California in a "zero carbon" approach.

Stop signing statements

In addition to cities, multinationals were ubiquitous: Unilever, Ikea, Sony, Walmart, Michelin... multiplied announcements and commitments. A presence denounced by several NGOs.

All of these actors had a stated purpose: to change the global emissions curve in the next two to three years. "If we do not succeed, it is extremely unlikely that we will be able to limit the rise in temperature to 2 ° C," said Johan Rockström, a leading Swedish climate scientist. "It's time to act and stop signing statements," said Mats Pellbäck Scharp, Ericsson's director of sustainability.

Writing with AFP

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