June Momentum for Climate Change, a series of virtual events, kicked off today, designed to take crucial work on climate action forward despite the COVID-19 crisis. The events, which run till 10 June, are being conducted under the guidance of the Chairs of the UNFCCC’s subsidiary bodies SBSTA and SBI with the support of the UNFCCC secretariat. A key focus of the opening event was on making recovery packages as sustainable as possible to respond to the climate crisis.
Tosi Mpanu Mpanu, Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), pointed out that the June Momentum does not provide a space for negotiations, which only will take place when governments meet for the Subsidiary Body meetings in October. Stating that “you can’t put climate change in quarantine,” he highlighted the need for more cooperation and multilateralism during this time of crisis: “While the UN system is far from perfect, we need to make it work, improve it so that it can be more effective in protecting all, especially the most vulnerable. The UNFCCC also needs to draw lessons from the crisis and see how we can make the process more efficient and fit for the challenges of the years to come.”
The series of online events offers an opportunity for governments and other stakeholders to continue exchanging views and sharing information to showcase how climate action is progressing under the special circumstances the world is currently facing. It is the latest in a string of online events that have allowed the work of the UNFCCC secretariat to continue unabated.
The 10-day event is providing a platform for information exchange and engagement on a range of work being done under the UNFCCC, including on adaptation, mitigation, science, finance, technology, capacity-building, transparency, gender, Action on Climate Empowerment, and the preparation and submission of national climate action plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
Marianne Karlsen, Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), said: «I would like to emphasize that 2020 is and remains the year of ambition and climate action. COVID-19 has not changed any of this.» She added: “What is now needed is to ensure that we are setting ourselves up for a recovery from COVID-19 that takes us to – and not away from the Paris Agreement goals.” She said the SBI would continue its work to strengthen the responses to climate change and enable all Parties to harvest the benefits of the global shift towards a low-emissions future.
Growing Recognition of the Need for a Sustainable Recovery
Acknowledging the difficult circumstances the international community currently faces, Selwin Hart, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Climate Action, said: «We are in the midst of a global crisis which the world has not seen since the United Nations was created, but climate action cannot be delayed. The window of opportunity to tackle climate change is ever narrowing.»
Selwin Hart drew attention to the fact that there is a growing community of governments and companies that have concrete plans for a sustainable recovery. And he called on countries to lead on this, notably G20 countries, whilst recognizing that nations have different circumstances to deal with whilst designing recovery packages.
In a video address, COP25 President, Carolina Schmidt, stressed the need for governments to deliver on their commitments under the Paris Agreement by submitting more ambitious NDCs and long-term climate strategies this year, such as Chile’s recent significantly enhanced NDC that sets out a vision for the country to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
“Today, we have an opportunity to show leadership; to improve peoples’ lives and future. Let’s present enhanced NDCs and help our societies to recover from COVID-19 in a cleaner, more inclusive and more sustainable way,” she said.
Also on an optimistic note, incoming COP26 President Alok Sharma acknowledged the important work that is continuing despite the COVID pandemic: «I am positive that we will come out of the COVID-19 crisis with a green recovery,» he said.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa repeated Caroline Schmidt’s message of the critical importance this year of NDCs, which are only submitted or reviewed every five years, stressing that the coronavirus had not changed the need for nations to fulfil their commitments under the Paris Agreement. However, one positive impact of these difficult times, she said, is that we have been “witnesses to hope”:
“Corona-based CO2 reductions are no blueprint for long term climate action – they are too economically disruptive – but they do lift the curtains of smog. Showing us that cleaner skies, less congested streets are possible. We’ve seen that political leaders are capable of decisive and far-reaching action when they’re convinced it is necessary. A greener and healthier future is possible.”
Patricia Espinosa also drew attention to the fact that the entire UN system is standing by to help countries design their NDCs and ensure that recovery packages are sustainable.
Information taken from: https://unfccc.int/news/june-momentum-for-climate-change-gets-underway