The Road From COP21 So Far

By Kate Levick 16 March, 2016

Political momentum on climate action has not let up since Paris. CDP's Levick on the success & struggles so far

Sweden & China have announced that they are likely to surpass some aspects of their own emission targets
But we are also seeing the first signs of struggle ahead with debate, delays & legal issues in the US, EU & Canada
Many more bumps and setbacks are expected but we are finally moving ahead with Fiji as the country first to ratify

We are only a few months into 2016, yet already we see the beginnings of the major effort that the world’s governments pledged to undertake when they created the Paris Agreement.
Fiji was the first country to ratify the Paris Agreement with a unanimous parliamentary decision on February 12, and further national ratifications are expected to follow in time for the official signing ceremony on April 22. The agreement will enter into force once countries that produce at least 55% of the world’s GHG emissions agree to be bound by the COP21 outcome.

China’s lead climate envoy has said that the country is likely to “far surpass” its 2020 emissions reduction goal

Meanwhile the political momentum on climate action has not let up since Paris. A cross-parliamentary committee in Sweden has proposed that the country achieve net zero emissions by 2045 instead of 2050 as currently planned. China’s lead climate envoy has said that the country is likely to “far surpass” its 2020 emissions reduction goal and the country has just confirmed that its greenhouse gas emissions have fallen in absolute terms for a second successive year as record levels of renewable energy generation capacity were installed.

“But we are also seeing the first signs of struggle ahead”

But we are also seeing the first signs of struggle ahead. Debate is heating up at EU level as to whether the bloc of Member States will revise its 2030 climate and energy targets upwards following COP21, but the topic does not currently look likely to be on the agenda for a European Council next week, which is expected to focus on the ongoing migration crisis. Meanwhile Canada has delayed  updating its own climate strategy update by six months in order to resolve differences of opinion at different levels of government.
The US Supreme Court has halted implementation of the country’s Clean Power Plan until legal challenges have been addressed, and although some US states are still continuing to put measures in place others have halted work.
The We Mean Business Coalition, of which CDP is a founding partner, has highlighted the strong business backing for this integral piece of US climate policy:
Business and investors across the United States support the Clean Power Plan because it is a core component of the US climate commitment and would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector by an average of 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. The economic benefits of the plan are clear. It will drive innovation, create new and better job opportunities and help grow the economy and increase the competitiveness of American businesses in the global marketplace.
The US is also an actor in a controversial World Trade Organization decision against India’s promotion of domestic manufacturing element in its National Solar Mission to make the country a global leader in solar power, demonstrating that new ambitious climate policies must be balanced with trade rules.

G20 Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors looking at integrating climate policy & regulations

Continuing this theme of integrating climate policy with other areas of regulation, climate change is now being taken into account by the global financial system under the auspices of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. Membership of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures was announced in late January. The Task Force will consider the physical, liability and transition risks associated with climate change and what constitutes effective corporate financial disclosures in this area, and will makes its recommendations by the end of 2016.

More bumps expected on the road ahead but we are finally moving

These initial achievements and setbacks are not isolated events but the beginning of the world’s transformation to a low-carbon global economy. We expect many more bumps and twists the road – but we must remember how important it is that we are finally on the move towards our destination: a low-carbon, climate resilient future.

Further Reading

  • What China’s New Green Bond Rules Mean – China’s new green bond rules can make it a major player in the global green bonds market. Trucost’s Huang & Ip expand on their Chinese characteristics and how they can help raise the annual requirement of RMB 2 trillion for climate solutions & environmental clean up
  • COP21: 5 Takeaways from Paris – The Paris Agreement signals that the threat is real. Time is running out, especially for water. Inaction means growing costs and with financial risks across sectors also on the rise, CWR’s Thieriot shares key takeaways from COP21
  • COP21: What Paris Means For China – All eyes are on China, the largest contributor to global emissions as it transitions to a low carbon future. See what Paris means for China from carbon trading, peak emissions to carbon-intensive industries
  • Paris Water Pact: Feeling Blue – The rise of water at COP was evidenced by the Paris Pact for Water and Adaptation, Delta Coalition & the Megacities Coalition on Water. However, we are still feeling blue, CWR’s McGregor expands
  • Climate Finance: Who Pays? – A Paris Agreement was made but a lot of it and our future climate resilience comes down to money – north of USD100 bn. Xu Nan from Central University of Finance & Economics takes a look at who could pay what
  • Green Finance Revolution: China Can Lead – Can financing required to meet targets laid down in Paris be met? WRI’s Shouqing Zhu & Andrew Steer on how China can lead with five recommendations
  • Beautiful China 2020: Water & The 13 FYP – China wants to exert tireless efforts to build a Beautiful China where the sky is blue, the land is green and the water runs clear. Find out what this means for water, the environment and the economy in the next five years in the upcoming 13th Five Year Plan
  • Key Water Policies 2015 – 2016 – Over the last year China has released multiple of key water-related policies ranging from tackling the war on pollution, monitoring, food & energy security, green finance to promoting circular economies and more. Stay on top of them with China Water Risk’s review
Kate Levick
Author: Kate Levick
Kate is the Director of Regulation & Policy at CDP. She manages CDP’s relationships with governments. She previously worked at the UK Government Office of Climate Change and at BP Plc on carbon credits and strategy in relation to emerging markets. Kate is a trustee of Forum for the Future. She has an MProf in Leadership for Sustainable Development with Forum for the Future and a BA (Hons) from Oxford University.
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