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Climate summit leads to new, expanded international collaborations

23 April 2021 Kevin Adler

One of the goals of this week's Leaders Summit on Climate, organized by US President Joe Biden, was to energize collaborations between nations to handle the complexities of the energy transition, reduction of carbon emissions, and mitigation of environmental impacts.

"The amount of action and new commitments we heard yesterday was, frankly, inspiring," said US Special Envoy on Climate John Kerry in opening the second day of the summit on 23 April. "I think it's fair to say there is a new beginning as the world is moving towards the actions necessary to keep 1.5 degrees as the limit on the planet's warming."

Countries that represent over 50% of global GDP agreed at the summit that they will take steps to be on the path to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Kerry said.

Not only will that commitment be necessary to stem global warming, but Biden said in a speech on 23 April that achieving those goals will transform the global economy in positive ways. "This is a moment for all of us to build a better economy for our children and grandchildren," he said. "Nations that work together to advance the clean economy will reap the rewards. The United States is committed … while also connecting with markets around world."

The US launched the Global Climate Ambition Initiative, Biden said, which will work across nations to establish net-zero strategies, coordinate climate commitments, and report progress toward meeting Paris Agreement goals.

In terms of international collaboration, the two-day event yielded several new multinational consortia and additional members joining existing programs. A summary follows below:

  • Net-Zero Producers Forum: the US, Canada, Norway, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia -- which account for 40% of global oil and natural gas production -- will share strategies on methane abatement, carbon capture, and energy diversification.
  • Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ): chaired by Mark Carney, UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, it brings together 160 banks and financial institutions with more than $70 trillion in assets to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • Net-Zero Banking Alliance: launched the week of the summit, it consists of 43 banks (which are part of the GFANZ) that have made pledges for climate investments in 2030 and 2050. At the summit, Kerry said that six of the banks committed this week to invest $4.15 trillion over 10 years in climate investments.
  • Global Power Capacity Consortium: the US joined this organization this week, with six grid operators in Australia, Europe, and the US teaming up with more than a dozen power technology developers. "The goal of the consortium is to accelerate the transition to low-emission, low-cost, secure power systems by enabling efficient integration of clean energy into power systems and thereby reduce global carbon emissions by more than 50% over the next 10 years," the group said when it was started in October 2020.
  • Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest (LEAF) Coalition: the UK, US, and Norway are leading the LEAF Coalition to protect tropical forests. Initially, nine companies, including Amazon, Airbnb, and Nestle, have joined with pledges to mobilize $1 billion.
  • Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate: this group was launched during the summit by the US, UK, and United Arab Emirates. "The AIM-C initiative will be advanced at the UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021 and launched at COP26 in November 2021 through the UK's COP26 Campaign on Adaptation," said the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
  • Greening Government Initiative: Canada and the US are co-chairing this group, which "seeks to lead by example" through achieving 100% clean energy electricity usage in government property, zero-emissions fleets, and resilient, low-carbon operations.
  • Energy Resource Governance Initiative: the US, Australia, Botswana, Canada, and Peru are creating a sustainable supply chain for minerals for solar panels, electric vehicles, and batteries, funded initially with $10.5 million from the US.
  • Power Africa Initiative: several international development banks and USAID teamed with the governments of Botswana and Namibia to install up to 5 GW of solar power in southern Africa by 2030.
  • Net-Zero Asia: USAID is partnering with the governments of Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka "on deployment of state-of-the-art energy technologies, grid modernization (smart grids, smart meters, digitization, cybersecurity, and resilience), and supporting the transition to electric vehicles and improved battery storage," with an investment of at least $200 million.
  • US-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership: "The Partnership will aim to mobilize finance and speed clean energy deployment," to help India reach 450 GW of renewable energy capacity in 2030, the countries said.

During the summit, US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced the US will host the 2022 Mission Innovation meeting, which is a global initiative of 24 countries and the European Commission to reduce carbon emissions from industrial processes. The consortium focuses on decarbonization of cement, steel, aluminum, and chemical production, which it says accounts for 30% of global GHG emissions.

"We are looking at a $23-trillion global market in the clean energy transition by 2030 — at a minimum. That means we can all remake our economies, build our businesses, and put millions and millions of people to work," Granholm said.

Interest in the summit led to other climate-related initiatives as well.

On 20 April, a few days prior to the climate summit, Kerry committed the US to join the International Maritime Organization in its the goal of net-zero emissions in shipping by 2050.

During the summit, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said the country "aims to take the lead in decarbonization of global shipping," and she said the nation's shipping industry members have agreed to purchase only zero-emission ships starting in 2030 or earlier. Overall, Norway aims to halve its emissions from domestic shipping and fishing by 2030, Solberg added.

Also on 20 April, the Blue Nature Alliance was launched "to catalyze the protection and conservation of 18 million square kilometers of the ocean (7 million square miles) over the next five years — an area twice the size of the continental United States and larger than the continent of South America," the group said.

Ultimately, the alliance wants governments around the world to protect 30% of the ocean by 2030, compared with about 10% today, it said. The founding members are Conservation International, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Global Environment Facility, Minderoo Foundation, and the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation.

Biden's executive order on 27 January set a goal of protecting 30% of US oceans (and land) by 2030.

Posted 23 April 2021 by Kevin Adler, Editor, Climate & Sustainability Group, IHS Markit

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