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UN Climate Change Agreement signed this week

The United Nations (UN) held a ceremony at its headquarters in New York for countries to formally sign up to the climate change agreement that was made in Paris at the end of last year. The Paris Agreement enters into force once 55 countries representing 55% of global emissions have deposited their instruments of accession with the UN.

The agreement’s key aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The reduction in carbon emissions necessary to achieve this is being made through nationally determined contributions”. Additionally, it was agreed that support would be provided to countries having to deal with the impact of climate change. Every five years there will be an assessment of whether the main aim of the agreement is being achieved so that countries can decide whether further action is required.

Prior to the signing a global coalition of investment groups called on countries to implement the agreement as soon as possible in a letter addressed to the heads of state and government of the world’s largest economies. The global investor networks, representing more than 400 institutional investors with more than $24 trillion of assets under management, wrote, “We believe that the Paris Agreement is an historic breakthrough that delivered an unequivocal signal for investors to shift assets towards the low-carbon economy. In conjunction with its national-level implementation, the Paris Agreement provides the right framework to trigger substantial investment and thus keep the door open to a well below 2 degrees pathway. It is now essential that the strong political consensus between 195 countries captured in Paris is made actionable through the rapid entry into force of the Paris Agreement.”

Stephanie Pfeifer, head of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which represents over 120 European asset owners or managers said, “The agreement reached in Paris was an historic breakthrough that delivered an unequivocal signal for investors to shift assets swiftly towards the low-carbon economy.  It’s now vital the 195 countries who adopted the Paris Agreement, especially the top 20 major emitters, amplify that signal that by signing and acceding to the Paris Agreement to bring it rapidly into force.”

Environmental charities, Ceres and the World Wildlife Fund, also released a statement issued by over a 100 major companies in the US, including Mars, Starbucks, IKEA, Kellogs and HP,  in which the signatories pledged to do their part to “realise (the Paris Climate Agreement’s) vision of a global economy that limits global temperature rise to well below two degrees Celsius.” They also called on U.S. leaders for an investment in the low-carbon economy at home and abroad to give financial decision-makers clarity and to boost investors’ confidence worldwide.

Barry Parkin, Chief Sustainability Officer at Mars said, “Business must continue leading by example, and we at Mars have already declared our own decarbonisation commitment to eliminate the use of fossil fuel energy and greenhouse gas emissions from our operations by 2040.”

What do you think?