The climate passions

A wave of climate actions embracing more than 6 million people in the world was intended for the leaders gathered at the Climate Action Summit in New York. Activist Greta Tunberg delivered a passionate call to action. During the event, Russia announced the ratification of the Paris Agreement. 

In anticipation of the summit in New York, UN Secretary General António Guterres warned countries “not to speak platitudes, but rather to present new and ambitious action plans to achieve the goals set out in the Paris Agreement ... If we do not urgently change our lifestyle, we will endanger the existence of life on the planet as such,” the head of the UN emphasized.

The Paris Agreement obliges states to adopt development strategies with low greenhouse gas emissions for the period up to 2050. Many leaders “followed the instructions” and came up with plans for the protection of their countries and the world from climate change, as well as support developing countries in adapting to climate change and emission reduction.

At the time of the Climate Action Summit-2019, about 70 countries, 10 regions, 102 cities and 93 companies committed to become carbon-neutral, that is, to take measures to fully compensate for CO2 emissions. The day before the event, 15 countries led by the Marshall Islands committed themselves to new emission reduction goals by 2020 and long-term strategies to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed that Germany would invest 1.5 billion euro in the Green Climate Fund. Thanks to Germany, as well as Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway, the Fund commits to raise $ 7 billion. Qatar also promises to allocate $100 million to support climate action for the most vulnerable. 

Accepting the appeal of the UN Secretary-General to abandon coal after 2020, 30 countries, 22 states or regions and 31 corporations last September joined the Powering Past Coal Alliance.

Members of the Climate Ambition Alliance, embracing 59 countries including France, the UK, Argentina, Costa Rica, Finland, New Zealand, and Sweden, promised to present a stronger climate action plan in 2020, while 11 countries are going to start national processes. 87 companies with a collective “purchasing power” of more than $ 2.3 trillion and an annual climate impact equivalent to 73 coal-fired power plants announced emission reduction targets.

However, not all countries that cause greenhouse gas emissions made ambitious statements in New York. Unfortunately for the summit participants and observers, China, India and Turkey were non-specific, although more serious obligations from them were expected. 

An unexpected guest of the summit was US President Donald Trump. The United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action, Michael Bloomberg, addressed the American president: “I hope that our discussions here will be useful to you when you formulate climate policy.” However, after listening to the speeches of the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and Mrs. Merkel, trump retired. 

Greta Tunberg shocked the summit participants with her deeply emotional speech. The young Swede accused the leaders of inaction and that they deprive her and the youth of the future. “You stole my childhood from me with your empty words ... This is all wrong. I should not be here. I should have returned to my school overseas,” she said with tears in her eyes...

One of the expected but hot news of the Climate Action Summit was the statement by the representative of Russia on the ratification of the Paris Agreement. It took almost three years for the leadership of the country to make a decision on this issue. 

Experts, who analyzed the official document regarding the ratification of the Paris Agreement by Russia, found some flaws in it. According to the Director General of the Center for Environmental Investments Mikhail Yulkin, first of all, there clearly is no adequate statement about Russia’s contribution to reducing greenhouse emissions for the period up to 2030. Also, according to the expert, nothing is said about the development of low-carbon technologies in Russia, including renewable energy, electric vehicles, green hydrogen production, etc. “Perhaps we will see all this in a long-term low-carbon development strategy, which the Government will have to approve,” the director of the Center for Environmental Investments expressed his hope. 

Civil society activists emphasize that they expect real actions from world powers and from Russia, which has joined the climate agreement. “Ratification of the Paris Agreement by Russia is certainly an essential step, but practical steps strengthening the goals of reducing emissions are in the agenda,” says Olga Senova, head of the Climate Secretariat of the Russian Social and Ecological Union (RSoES). “For Russia, it is important to ensure that the growth of emissions is truly stopped, and not a ‘conditional’ one taking into account forest absorption, but a real thing, reached through the actions in the energy field. For this, there is an unused reserve for increasing energy efficiency at all stages - from the production and transmission of energy to its consumption. A reorientation of the priorities of the energy strategy and support for the development of renewable energy sources are badly needed, as the interest in those is growing among small businesses, local communities and individual consumers.”