Christiana Figueres Steps Down, Patricia Espinosa Steps Up

Patricia Espinosa of Mexico, nominated by U.N. head Ban Ki-moon, has been formally confirmed as the new Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC),  at the first meetings since the Paris Agreement, in  Bonn, Germany May 18 and 19   . See:  her first interview, with Reuters, on May 19  – in which she is asked about Donald  Trump’s statement on the Paris Agreement; or “Patricia Espinosa: Who is the UN’s incoming Climate Chief”, including a copy of her CV from Climate Home (May 5) ;  or  “A crucial handoff between UN Climate Chiefs ” from the Brookings Institute .

 

Canada Reports Climate Progress: 2020 Targets Further out of Reach as Oil Sands Emissions Rise

In late December, Canada quietly submitted its sixth report to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), opting not to accompany the submission with an announcement or press release. The government reported a trend of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, largely attributable to the rapidly expanding oil sands, and admits that Canada is on track to miss the 2020 emissions reduction targets committed to in Copenhagen. The report emphasizes the “sector-by-sector” approach to emissions reduction programs, but also indicates that a lack of policy intervention in the oil and gas industry could mean Canada’s emissions will exceed the 2020 target by 20%, and continue to grow another 33% by 2030. Canada has not indicated how it plans to address its difficulties with meeting its targets, and in December, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the long-awaited release of oil and gas regulations could be delayed for another two years. The issue may be a factor in President Obama’s Keystone XL pipeline decision, which he has said would be influenced by Canada’s climate plan.

By contrast, the US submission to the UNFCC contains specific goals associated with the Climate Action Plan implemented by President Obama last summer. The submission was further substantiated by the January 16th release of a progress report on the Plan, outlining US federal initiatives to reduce carbon pollution and increase energy efficiency.

LINKS:

Canada’s Sixth National Communication and First Biennial Report on Climate Change (January 2014): The Executive Summary is available at: http://www.ec.gc.ca/Publications/default.asp?lang=En&xml=109109A8-6636-418C-B743-94CD3459FB6B, and the full report is available at: http://www.unfccc.int/files/national_reports/non-annex_i_natcom/submitted_natcom/application/pdf/final_nc_br_dec20,_2013%5B1%5D.pdf.

“Emissions will Soar after 2020 without Oil-sector Regulation, Federal Report Says” in the Globe and Mail (Jan. 8, 2014) at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/emissions-will-soar-after-2020-without-oil-sands-regulation-federal-report-says/article16250220/.

“Canada’s New Emission Rules on Hold Again, Harper Says” in the Globe and Mail (Dec. 19, 2013) is at: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canadas-new-emissions-rules-on-hold-again-harper-says/article16065033/.

2014 U.S. Climate Action Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is available at: http://www.state.gov/e/oes/rls/rpts/car6/index.htm.

January 2014 Progress Report: President Obama’s Climate Action Plan is at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/fact_sheet_-_cap_progress_report_2014-01-16.pdf.

UN Climate Chief Urges Institutional Investors to Move to Low-Carbon Assets

According to CERES, a non-profit advocacy coalition, “Since 2003, the biennial Investor Summit on Climate Risk at the United Nations has been the pre-eminent forum for leading institutional investors in North America, Europe and the rest of the world to discuss the implications of climate change for capital markets and their portfolios.” At this year’s summit on January 15, Christine Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), told the audience of 500 global leaders: “The pensions, life insurances and nest eggs of billions of ordinary people depend on the long-term security and stability of institutional investment funds. Climate change increasingly poses one of the biggest long-term threats to those investments and the wealth of the global economy.” She urged investors to move out of high-carbon assets and into assets built on renewable energy, energy efficiency and more sustainable ways of business that green global supply chains.

A related report by CERES, Investing in the Clean Trillion: Closing the Clean Energy Investment Gap, was released at the Summit. It provides recommendations for investors, companies and policymakers to increase annual global investment in clean energy to at least $1 trillion by 2030- up from a current investment level of approximately $300 billion. A related report by Cleantech Group pegs the level of worldwide global investment in cleantech venture companies at $6.8 billion in 2013.

LINKS:

2014 Investor Summit on Climate Risk website is at http://www.ceres.org/investor-network/investor-summit

UNFCC press release regarding Christine Figueres’ statement is at: http://unfccc.int/files/press/press_releases_advisories/application/pdf/pr20140115_ceres_final1.pdf. Watch a 2-minute video of an interview with Ms. Figueres’ at: http://climatedesk.org/2014/01/un-climate-chief-calls-for-tripling-of-clean-energy-investment/

To download the CERES Report: Investing in the Clean Trillion: Closing the Clean Energy Investment Gap, or the Executive Summary go to: http://www.ceres.org/resources/reports/investing-in-the-clean-trillion-closing-the-clean-energy-investment-gap/view – registration required.

Summary of the Cleantech Groups Investment report is at http://www.cleantech.com/2014/01/08/i3-quarterly-investment-monitor-reports-6-8-billion-cleantech-venture-investment-2013/