As the Climate Week unfurled in New York, it serves as a reminder to revisit the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest scientific assessment—a resounding alarm for global action. The urgency has never been more palpable. The climate crisis has dealt extensive damage, while global greenhouse gas emissions stubbornly linger at dangerous levels. It is clear that immediate, substantial emissions reductions over the next three decades are imperative. The ultimate goal remains limiting global warming to a mere 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels to forestall catastrophic scenarios.
The Climate Ambition Summit at the United Nations Headquarters in New York will also be underway on September 20. This Summit stands as a testament to the global resolve to accelerate the pace and scale of a just transition toward a renewable-energy-driven, climate-resilient global economy.
The 15th edition of the Climate Week, which will be on till September 24, has around 2,600 people registered for in-person attendance in New York, and features over 200 speakers from the private sector, governments, and non-governmental organisations. The Alliance of Small Island States, representing nearly 40 member nations, aims to leverage Climate Week as a platform to implore developed countries to intensify efforts to eliminate fossil fuel usage and bolster the global expansion of renewable energy sources like wind, geothermal, and solar power.
Meanwhile, the Climate Ambition Summit, hosted by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, is scheduled for Wednesday, and represents a high-profile assembly designed to rekindle commitment to the goals of the Paris climate agreement and inspire governments to embrace robust measures against climate change.
Selwin Hart, the special adviser on climate to the secretary-general, expressed optimism that the summit could serve as a catalyst for much-needed action. “There is lingering doubt that … we can meet our climate goals. There is too much backtracking; so we’re really hoping that this summit can be used as a moment to inspire people,” he stated at a briefing ahead of the Summit. This precedes the COP28 climate summit in the United Arab Emirates by a mere two months. It represents one of the final opportunities for nations to unveil fresh climate actions.
The UN Secretary-General has issued invitations to member states, calling for expressions of interest in detailing their strategies to combat the climate crisis. “We received over 100 expressions of interest to participate, which contain details and specifics on announcements. Participation in most cases would be at the level of heads of states and governments,” reported Hart.
Guterres has urged “first movers and doers” to present their updated pre-2030 nationally determined contributions, net-zero targets, energy transition plans excluding new coal, oil, and gas commitments, fossil fuel phase-out strategies, more ambitious renewable energy targets, and pledges to the green climate fund. A chair’s summary encapsulating the updated objectives will be released upon the meeting’s conclusion.
On September 22, the UN will convene a meeting on the loss and damage fund, established during the annual 2022 summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. This meeting will deliberate on political outcomes tied to the loss and damage fund, further underscoring the gravity of the climate crisis and the urgency for immediate action.
The Climate Ambition Summit assumes heightened importance this year, given the forthcoming global stocktake in December and the backdrop of record-high global temperatures resulting from the compounding effects of El Nino and climate change. This past August marked the hottest August on record in the planet’s 174-year history. The scorching month also bookended the northern hemisphere’s hottest summer and the southern hemisphere’s warmest winter, as revealed by scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Climate Ambition Summit and New York Climate Week 2023 serve as poignant reminders that the world’s response to the climate crisis must remain steadfast and unwavering, mirroring the urgency and gravity of the situation at hand.