Former UN Climate Chief Issues New
Challenge as Corporates to Cities Mobilize for Major September Summit

New Orleans/San Francisco, 1 May 2018 – The global technology sector was today urged to dramatically step up climate action by pledging to halve their emissions every decade to realize the international goals of a carbon neutral world by 2050.

Laying the groundwork for the radical collaboration needed to bend the curve of emissions, Christiana Figueres, the former UN Climate Chief and Convener of Mission 2020, told delegates at the Collision 2018 in New Orleans to take a leading role to step up accelerated climate action.

She urged some of the biggest names in the sector to play that pivotal role now, driving down their emissions to 2020—the year when science advises that global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak—and thereafter halve emissions decade on decade.

Ms. Figueres, speaking in advance of the milestone Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) taking place this September in San Francisco, encouraged all companies in the sector to back their ambition by reporting annually on their progress.

She called upon them to also go further in focusing their creativity, products and influence to help governments, other industrial sectors and consumers play their part.

“The tech industry has innovation built into its DNA. With each passing year we see innovations that didn’t seem possible just a few short years prior,” said Figueres. “This puts the tech sector in a unique position to take on the greatest challenge of our time as its own, and to adopt the 2020 climate turning point as its North Star.”

The millions of entrepreneurs, engineers and company executives that take on this challenge are also taking on an immediate opportunity to drive the innovation of new products and services that deliver jobs, growth and value into the future.

Bending down greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and halving emissions thereafter also provides the opportunity to meet the ambitions of the internationally agreed Paris Climate Change Agreement of 2015 and its aim of a more climate-secure and sustainable world for over 10 billion people.

A recent report by the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and Accenture underlined just some of the inordinate opportunities. It estimates that the information and communications technologies (ICT) sector alone can assist in dramatically cutting emissions and provide significant social benefits while delivering trillions of dollars of economic growth.

The report, SMARTer2030, shows that as smart phones, networked sensors, smart grids and other ICT devices become faster, cheaper and more available globally, they have the potential to deliver:

  • A 20 percent reduction of global carbon emissions by 2030
  • Over $11 trillion dollars in new economic benefits
  • The ability to extend e-healthcare to an additional 1.6 billion more people worldwide
  • An estimated 30% increase in agriculture yields

Today’s announcement by Ms. Figueres marks the latest challenge in advance of Global Climate Action Summit which covers Five key Challenge Areas with underlying sub-challenges.

Others that have been issued over the recent weeks and months include:

  • Science Based Targets: At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Summit co-chair and Mahindra Group Chairman, Anand Mahindra, announced that the Mahindra Group “will implement the Paris Agreement in its entirety,” committing to science-based targets for emissions. He also challenged all companies to step up and join him in making the same commitment and several have heeded the call including McDonald’s, Bank Australia and Brother Industries.

Additional companies signing onto science-based targets will be announced on May 2 at a press conference in Bonn, Germany hosted by Patricia Espinosa, a Summit co-chair and Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change.

  • Investor Challenge: In January, Mindy Lubber, CEO and President of Ceres and Summit Advisory Committee Chair, called on investors worldwide to accelerate and scale up actions that are necessary to curb climate change and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • Green Bonds: In opening remarks to a global green bonds conference in March, Figueres called on cities, governments and corporations to commit to the use of green bonds for infrastructure investment programs.
  • Renewable Energy Investments: In September, Figueres made a challenge at PRI in Person to push signatories to invest 1 percent of their assets in clean technologies and renewable energy by 2020.

Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson for GCAS, said, “States and regions, cities, businesses, investors and citizens are mobilizing to take climate change action and ambition to the next level.”

“The Summit will spotlight the multitude of on-going climate change commitments, celebrate new bold challenges and issue a call for even greater climate action through the next UN climate conference in Poland and the UN Secretary-General’s Leaders Summit in 2019,” he added.

“In doing so, the Summit will serve as the launch-pad that inspires the higher ambition required to get the world on track to deliver the opportunities from the Paris Agreement and avoid dangerous climate change,” said Mr. Nuttall.

About the Global Climate Action Summit
The 2018 Global Climate Action Summit, hosted in San Francisco September 12 to 14, will bring together state and local governments, business, and citizens from around the world to showcase climate action taking place, thereby demonstrating how the tide has turned in the race against climate change and inspiring deeper national commitments in support of the Paris Agreement.

To keep warming well below 2 degrees C, and ideally 1.5 degrees C—temperatures that could lead to catastrophic consequences—worldwide emissions must start trending down by 2020.

The Summit will showcase climate action around the world, along with bold new commitments, to give world leaders the confidence they can go even further by 2020.

The Summit’s five headline challenge areas are Healthy Energy Systems; Inclusive Economic Growth; Sustainable Communities; Land Stewardship and Transformative Climate Investments

A series of reports are set to be launched over the coming months and at the Summit underlining the contribution of states and regions, cities, businesses, investors and civil society, also known as “non-party stakeholders” to national and international efforts to address climate change.

Many partners are supporting the Summit and the mobilization in advance including Climate Group; the Global Covenant of Mayors; the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group; BSR; We Mean Business; CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project; the World Wide Fund for Nature; and Mission 2020.

Media Contact:
Nick Nuttall
Spokesperson & Director of Communications
[email protected]