The Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco brought together an unprecedented gathering of forward-thinking leaders from different sectors including business, finance, cities and governments, academia and NGOs with the common goal of tackling the climate crisis.
The event received very little press attention as far as I’m aware, overshadowed by a nine-year-old Australian girl refusing to stand and sing the national anthem, the launch of yet another one of Apple’s latest iPhones and, of course, news reports about the preparation and impact of Storm Florence. As an active member of the Twitterati, I noticed a general lack of interest in the #GCAS hashtag overall.
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time and the mainstream media chose to stay relatively quiet about this hugely important global climate event. Harrison Ford and Jane Goodall’s appearances were the most publicised of all the brilliant news shared throughout the event which tells you a lot about the priorities of most media outlets – covering positive stories about corporate commitment to fighting climate change is clearly not one of them!
We love Harrison Ford and Jane Goodall for fighting the good fight (Goodall is one of my personal heroes) but here at Eco Warrior Princess, we also care about what corporate members and government representatives are doing since they wield tremendous economic and political influence.
So here is a breakdown of some of the exciting climate change initiatives and commitments announced at this global climate event.
Step Up Declaration
At the Global Climate Action Summit, twenty-one of the most innovative and influential companies in the world announced the launch of Step Up Declaration, a new collaborative alliance dedicated to accelerating climate action using the power of technology to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all economic sectors by 2020.
“Existing technologies currently influence the decisions of three billion people daily through eCommerce, search and social media, and are at the heart of business and investor decisions,” the press release states.
“These technologies and the companies behind them have the potential to both profoundly impact the transition to a fossil fuel free economy, and also influence whether we live on a 1.5-2°C planet (climate stable), or in a +3°C (climate catastrophe) world.”
Signatories to the declaration cover a broad range of industries from telecommunications to transport, and includes globally recognised companies such as Autodesk, Bloomberg, BT, Cisco Systems, Ericsson, HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Lyft, Nokia, Salesforce, Symantec, Uber, VMware and WeWork.
Nate Hurst, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer at HP said: “With one of the largest IT supply chains in the world, we are uniquely positioned to influence the industry and drive more sustainable production and consumption around the world. Through transformative technologies like our 3D printing solutions designed for industrial-scale manufacturing environments and new service-based and circular business models, we are changing how our products are produced, delivered, and re-used to reduce their impacts.”
The Step Up Declaration shows that when it comes to fighting climate change, business competitors can work together.
Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment
The World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) announced its Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment whereby 38 signatories – 12 businesses, 22 cities and four states and regions – agreed to take coordinated action to tackle greenhouse emissions and decarbonise buildings.
By committing to “net zero carbon buildings” businesses agree to eliminate operational carbon emissions from their building portfolios and leaders from some of the world’s biggest cities and major regions – including 19 city mayors who preside over 130 million city-dwellers in Copenhagen and Tokyo – agree to implement regulations and planning policies that will require a transformation in the way they design, build and operate new buildings in order to achieve net zero carbon from 2030; and ALL buildings, including existing, to operate at net zero carbon by 2050.
Collectively, these organisations are committed to eliminating a cumulative total of 209 million tonnes of carbon emissions equivalent (CO2e) from their buildings by 2050. That is the equivalent of 44.7 million cars off the road for one year.” – World Green Building Council press release
India commits to new climate actions
City and state leaders in India are accelerating actions to combat climate change and protect its citizens from its impacts. This is welcome news since India is the world’s second most populated country (after China) and the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after China and the United States).
From installing cool roofs to protect the vulnerable from a warming climate to increasing solar power capacity, India is committing to climate action. One of their exciting announcements is the transition of their urban transportation systems to renewable energy. In one city, there are plans to roll out 500 electric buses by 2020, and that all diesel buses will be eliminated by 2021.
Mahindra & Mahindra commits to becoming a carbon neutral company by 2040
India’s leading utility vehicles manufacturer, Mahindra & Mahindra, part of the USD $20.7 billion Mahindra Group announced its intention to become a carbon neutral company by 2040.
Powering Past Coal Alliance welcome new members
At the summit, the Powering Past Coal Alliance welcomed 10 new members into the Alliance which includes countries like France, Finland and Mexico. New members include the Australian Capital Territory (the first jurisdiction in Australia to join), New York State, the City of Los Angeles and Hawaii.
The alliance has now grown to a membership total of 74 with 28 national governments, 18 subnational governments and 28 businesses on board. Members of the alliance share the common ambition to take action to phase-out coal power generation, accelerate investment and growth in clean energy and keep global temperature increase well below 2°C, hopefully limiting it to 1.5°C.
California sets most ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets in North America
California is the fifth-largest economy in the world and is home to nearly 40 million people. The state has already achieved its 2020 target four years early, reducing emissions by 13 percent while growing the economy by 26 percent. But it continues to accelerate its action, enacting more progressive climate policies this year, in stark contrast to the non-action from the country’s President.
State Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. this week signed a comprehensive set of bills aimed at drastically reducing carbon emissions by restricting pollutants, boosting the number of zero-emission vehicles, adding more charging stations, and removing dirty cars and trucks off the road. From 2015 to 2016 alone, it achieved emissions reductions equivalent to about 2.4 million cars being taken off the road, saving 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel.
This week, cities, states, businesses and non-profits stepped up and took strong action at the Global Climate Action Summit. Now it’s time to take this momentum back home. Climate change waits for nobody. Let’s get to work.” – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr of California, and a Summit co-chair said.
IKEA Group further commits to 100% zero emissions by 2020
IKEA Group strengthens its commitment to sustainability, committing to 100-percent zero emissions by 2020 in Amsterdam, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, and Shanghai. To learn more about the company’s detailed sustainability plans, read this article.
Read this next: What Australia Needs to Do To Achieve Its Paris Agreement Net Zero Emissions Targets
Title image features Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo at Global Climate Action Summit. Credit: Nikki Ritcher Photography