IN FOCUS: CLIMATE ACTION

The concentration of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is the highest it has been in 3 million years. The last four years were the hottest years on record and in many parts of the world, we are already seeing the consequences of global warming with more extreme weather, diminishing Arctic sea ice and rising sea levels. 

If we continue along our current path, scientists say that the consequences could be devastating. A 2°C increase could mean more heat waves, a ten-fold increase in Arctic ice-free summers and a complete wipe-out of the world’s coral reefs, home to millions of species.  

In August, we look at Sustainable Development Goal 13 – Climate Action – and the urgent need for unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and minimize future global warming. We explore how the impacts of environmental deterioration are taking a toll on people’s lives and what people are doing to cope – with a special focus on extreme weather, human rights, indigenous communities, young people, cities, private sector engagement and climate financing.

For more information on Goal 13 – Climate Action –  including facts and figures click here.

Why Goal 13 Matters
Goal 13 Infographic

What does rapid climate change mean? What are some of the most devastating chain reactions to extreme weather, loss of biodiversity, rising sea-levels and extreme heat and drought? The UN Development Programme unpacks the impact of climate change and what it means for people and the planet in this interactive guide. 

Available in English, French and Spanish.

UN Climate Action Summit, 23 September

On 23 September, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will convene the Climate Action Summit at the Organization’s headquarters in New York to mobilize political ambition and accelerate the achievement of the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement – the world’s commitment to strengthen global response to climate change.

He has asked leaders from all sectors of society not to come with just speeches but with plans to transform energy, mobility, industry and agriculture to face the challenge of our lifetime. 

In this interview, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the 2019 Climate Summit, Luis Alfonso de Alba, explains what is expected when world leaders gather for this milestone event. 

Ahead of the Climate Action Summit, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will launch the Special Report on Climate Change and Land, looking at how the way we use our land contributes to climate change and how climate change affects the land. The report, prepared by 107 leading scientists from 52 countries across all regions of the world, will specifically look at desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems.

There will be a press conference on 8 August at 10am CEST at the World Meteorological Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Please refer to the Media Advisory for more information. Opportunities for interviews with authors and details on broadcast arrangements are also available.

In September, the organization will launch the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, which will look at oceans and the frozen world. More information will be available on the IPCC website.

EXTREME WEATHER

Responding to Climate Emergencies

Midwife Laura helps women in Beira, Mozambique’s second-largest city,  manage their pregnancies safely as they struggle to get the rest of their lives back on track after Cyclone Idai. Both Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which affected well over two million Mozambicans when they struck with deadly force last March and April, were natural disasters made worse by chaotic extremes of weather.  The UN estimates that 90 per cent of all of Beira’s infrastructure has been damaged.

As the devastating impact of disasters grows, the global humanitarian system is responding more frequently and to longer-lasting, more complex emergencies. This World Humanitarian Day (August 19), the United Nations and the humanitarian community will honour the incredible contribution of women humanitarians and look at the challenges and opportunities they face in the field as they respond to the world’s most pressing crises – including climate change.

On that day, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs will showcase 24 compelling stories of these women in 24 hours on its campaign website – WorldHumantiarianDay.Org – where you can learn more about Laura’s work in Mozambique. 

The World Food Programme says that an estimated 1.6 million people are at risk of food insecurity at least until September 2019, while 67,500 children are in need of nutritional support in Mozambique. The food security situation is expected to further deteriorate during the lean season (October 2019 to February 2020) putting 1.9 million people at risk of food insecurity.  

Check out the agency’s latest video from Mozambique below [packaged for media]. Refer to the shotlist for more details. For broadcast-quality video, please contact video@wfp.org.

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MIGRATION

Migration and the Climate Crisis

According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 17.2 million people had to leave their homes last year, because of disasters that negatively affected their lives. Throughout human history, migration and climate have always been connected, but in the modern era, the impacts of the man-made climate crisis are likely to extensively change the patterns of human settlement.

UN News talks to the International Organization for Migration, which has been at the forefront of efforts to study the links between migration, the environment and climate. Click here for the full story.

HUMAN RIGHTS

Climate Justice: An Intergenerational Dialogue

“If we do take action we stand a chance to use climate change as a conduit into the 4th Industrial Revolution and a transformative society,” says Deon Shekuza, a young climate activist from Namibia.

Ahead of International Youth Day (12 August), he talks to Mary Robinson, the Chair of the Elders, about climate justice – and the need to look at the climate crisis through a human rights lens. 

Watch their intergenerational dialogue below.

YOUNG PEOPLE

Can young coders help solve the climate crisis? The Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth launched a global competition in July, called “Reboot The Earth”, with support from the UN Office of Information and Communications Technology, Deloitte and SAP, to try and answer that question, fostering collaboration between the United Nations, academia, civil society, and young people to address the climate emergency.

UN News explores the hackathon.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Indigenous communities are key sources of knowledge and understanding on climate change impacts, responses and adaptation. Their traditional knowledge allows them to forecast weather patterns, improve agricultural practices and sustainably manage natural resources. But many of them have been fighting a complicated climate battle – putting their lives and access to ancestral lands at risk.

Ahead of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (9 August), we talk to advocates from indigenous communities about surviving the fragile ecosystem and charting the way forward with traditional knowledge. Read the full story here.

PRIVATE SECTOR ENGAGEMENT

Major Global Companies Commit to Greater Climate Ambition

Nearly 30 major global companies with a combined market capitalization of $1.3 trillion have made new commitments to set ambitious emissions targets. The commitments — including a projection for net-zero emissions by no later than 2050 — came in response to a call-to-action campaign launched by the UN Global Compact. With this new commitment, the companies, spanning 17 industry sectors and representing more than a million employees, are also encouraging governments to match their ambition.  

Learn more about the commitments and the Global Compact’s Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign here.

CLIMATE FINANCE

Climate Smart Developments

The Climate Investment Funds, affiliated to the World Bank, helps low and middle-income countries pilot climate smart development. From India, Ghana, Jamaica to Chile, the organization invests in large-scale programmes aimed at initiating transformational change in policies, sectors and markets.

Visit their website to find out its contribution to more than 300 projects in over 70 countries.

CIVIL SOCIETY

Cities are responsible for 75 percent of global CO2 emissions – transport and buildings are among the largest contributors. How can we make sure that cities become more inclusive, with a smaller environmental footprint? These questions will be tackled at the UN Civil Society Conference, to take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, during 26-28 August. 

Here is our preview of what to expect in Salt Lake City.

SUSTAINABLE LIVING

What we eat has major implications for climate change. More chefs and  food suppliers are focusing on local and organic produce and shifting away from meat-heavy meals and fast food. They are joined by a growing movement of people changing the way they cook and eat. The UN’s ActNow campaign aims to inspire even more people to enjoy sustainable, climate-conscious and delicious food. Chef Grace Ramirez shares her own green life hacks and how to live more sustainably to tackle climate change.

In August, the campaign focuses on zero-waste fashion, asking consumers to be more aware of how their choices affect the climate and encouraging them to be more sustainable when it comes to reusing or upcycling used clothes. Join us on @globalgoalsUN to take part in the campaign and learn more on what you can do to take action on climate.

Goal of the Month – September Edition

September is the busiest time of the year for the United Nations and its partners. As we convene the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly next month, we will provide more information on what to expect during the high-level week (23 to 27 September). 

Please note that the deadline to apply for media accreditation to cover the high-level week is 2 September 2019. 

In the meantime, visit our dedicated website Action for People and Planet on the five major summits – Climate and SDGs Summits, High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, Financing for Development and Small Island Developing States