by PATRICIA ESPINOSA, Executive Secretary, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
As leaders from across the world gather in Katowice, Poland for COP24, let’s be clear about what is at stake. Two months ago, the IPCC Special Report stated unequivocally that the world is not on track to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C, as outlined in the Paris Agreement. Instead, we are in danger of running out of time before runaway climate change is beyond our control. Such an outcome would destabilize the global economy, which will affect all nations. It would create widespread conflict over resources and migration and result in incredible suffering and hardship for people and societies throughout the world.
This is not rhetoric—it’s the reality, grounded in science. As the IPCC emphasized, enough time remains to limit climate change. But only if we work with unprecedented speed, commitment, and coordination to fulfill the Paris Agreement.
Already, many countries are showing the way forward. To date, 183 Parties have ratified the Paris Agreement and nations are making announcements almost daily showcasing actions to meet their NDCs by reducing emissions and building resilience to the impacts of climate change. The NDC Partnership is at the forefront of this transition, working with countries to turn political vision into action on the ground.
This report is full of encouraging examples of governments building the foundations for low-carbon, resilient economies through collaboration across government and society, and with the support of development partners and the international community. Recognizing that climate action is inseparable from sustainable development objectives, the NDC Partnership’s members aim to align the climate and development agendas. It is exciting to see how quickly countries embraced this. Just two years after its founding, the NDC Partnership unites more than 100 countries and institutions in catalyzing cooperation on how best to implement, and also attract investment into, national climate plans.
One of the Partnership’s hallmarks is sharing lessons learned with respect to NDC implementation. This global sharing of experience is essential, as there is much more to do to scale effective solutions to the global level and time is not on our side. Building on the Talanoa Dialogue, countries will signal at COP24 how they plan to implement and enhance their NDCs by 2020. Since current national commitments will not close the emissions gap, boosting collective climate action and ambition over the next two years is critical to success. So, too, will be ensuring that nations fulfill their financial pledges to support the climate regime.
This journey will not be easy but it will be well worth the effort. Committing to a resilient and sustainable low-emissions future is not just about warding off catastrophic climate change impacts. It also offers incredible opportunity to completely transform the way we produce, consume, and live—for the better.