Former UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres named global ambassador for the Under2 Coalition at clean energy event
A coalition of major businesses and regional governments from around the world have rallied behind the Paris Agreement and reaffirmed their commitment to its aims at a clean energy event in Beijing.
Leading global figures, including former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres and California state Governor Jerry Brown, met in the Chinese capital yesterday in the latest attempt to underline how the Paris Agreement continues to enjoy widespread support, despite President Trump’s decision last week to withdraw the US from the global climate change pact.
It follows a number of recent interventions staunchly defending the climate agreement, with US states and businesses pledging to step up their commitments and China set to sign new climate alliances with the EU and California.
The event was part-organised by the Under2 Coalition of 175 governments committed to either reducing their greenhouse gases from 80-95 per cent below 1990 levels or limit emissions to less than two annual metric tonnes per capita by 2050.
Figueres, who was also named global ambassador for the Coalition at the event, said it was now more crucial than ever for states and regions around the world to work together to promote clean energy and curb global temperature increases.
“To give us the best chance of staying below 2 degrees of warming, we will need to bend the curve of emissions by 2020, so I look forward to playing an active role in raising awareness of the Coalition’s ambitions,” said the diplomat, who is set to speak at the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards 2017 later this month.
Other figures reaffirming their support for the Paris Agreement in Beijing yesterday included California state Governor Jerry Brown – who had earlier this week signed a non-binding pact with China to increase cooperation on developing clean technologies – and the head of tech giant Apple’s global supplier clean energy programme Katie Hill.
Governor Brown, a founder of the Coalition, added: “Christiana Figueres has been a strong ally in the global effort to curb carbon pollution and we welcome her work to expand our Under2 Coalition to even more cities, states, regions and countries throughout the world.”
Set up in 2015, the Under2 Coalition now encompasses regional governments spanning six continents and 35 countries comprising 1.2 billion people and $28.8tn of the global economy.
Five new endorsers and signatories to the Coalition were also announced at the event, including Denmark, the State of Chhatisgargh in India, Brittany in France and South African provinces KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.
Helen Clarkson, chief executive of The Climate Group – which helped to organise the event – said the world remained committed to the climate action regardless of political events in the US. “While the Trump administration is talking about the credibility of Paris, the rest of the world is moving on to action and delivery,” said Clarkson. “States, regions and businesses are leading actions to limit warming and they are already seeing the economic and health benefits.”
The news came as the EU faced some criticism from green groups, after officials suggested the bloc did not intend to increase its emissions reductions goals to make up for the gap created by the US decision to exit the Paris deal.