On his visit to the national capital ahead of the 2019 Climate Action Summit to be held in New York in September this year, UN special envoy for the climate summit Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba on Tuesday announced that 28 companies with a total market capitalisation of $1.3 trillion are “stepping up to set a new level of climate ambition in response to a call-to-action campaign.”
“The companies have committed themselves to more ambitious climate targets aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and reaching net-zero emissions by no later than 2050,’’ said the Ambassador on Tuesday.
The companies include Acciona, AstraZeneca, Banka BioLoo, BT, Dalmia Cement Ltd, Eco-Steel Africa Ltd, Enel, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Iberdrola, KLP, Levi Strauss and Co., Mahindra Group, Natura & Co., Novozymes, Royal DSM, SAP, Signify, Singtel, Telefonica, Telia, Unilever, Vodafone Group PLC and Zurich Insurance. The companies collectively represent over one million employees across 17 sectors and 16 countries.
“It is very encouraging to see these climate leaders in the global business community taking action, both to help tackle the climate emergency and because taking climate action presents huge opportunities for early movers. By sending market signals, these companies are showing Governments that they need to urgently ramp up their national plans in line with the latest climate science,’’ said the Ambassador.
To date, 600 of the world’s largest businesses are setting aside science-based greenhouse emissions reduction targets aligned with the Paris Agreement.
The Ambassador further informed that he had met with officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the MEA, the Power Ministry and the Ministry of Renewable Energy.
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said that in his meeting with the UN Ambassador, he informed the Ambassador of the measures that India had already taken in climate change mitigation. “India is taking a leadership position in achieving NDCs. We have already created 80 GW of renewable power and have set a target of achieving 175 GW by 2022. We have already reduced energy intensity by 22 per cent. India’s forest cover is increasing and is on course in meeting additional carbon sync target. Construction of 90 million toilets have made India open defecation free and the distribution of 70 million gas cylinders under Ujjwala Scheme has resulted in the saving of trees and reduction of pollution and the large scale replacement of LeD bulbs has ensured the saving of electricity and reduction in pollution,’’ said Javadekar yesterday.
“We are calling on all countries to increase their ambition in reducing carbon emissions. Norway, the UK, Chile and Costa Rica are some of the countries that have already announced increased ambition. In my meetings with the Indian government, I have come to know that India has achieved many of its targets and is committed to achieving even more. We are committed to the transfer of US $100 billion from developed to developing countries in order to facilitate climate change mitigation measures by 2020 and are also looking at replenishing the Green Climate Fund and have called on donors to contribute. Two countries – Norway and Germany – have already responded positively to this and have committed to doubling their contribution to the fund. The UN Secretary General is working with investors to persuade them to invest in the Green Economy as opposed to the carbon economy and has called for the end of subsidies to fossil fuel,” said the Ambassador.
Ambassador Alfonso de Alba further said that while the US government may have pulled out of the Paris Agreement, the UN was still working with several interested “local state governments” in the US as well as American private players.
He further said that the United Nations, WHO, UN Environment and Climate and Clean Air Coalition have announced the “Clean Air Initiative” and have called on all governments to join it. The initiative is to involve all national and subnational governments to commit to achieving air quality that is safe for its citizens and to align with climate change and air pollution policies by 2030.
According to WHO, each year, air pollution causes seven million premature deaths of which 600,000 are children. According to the World Bank, air pollution costs the global economy an estimated US $5.11 trillion in welfare losses and in the 15 countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions, health impacts of air pollution are estimated to cost more than 4 per cent of the GDP.
Ambassador Alfonso de Alba said that meeting the Paris Agreement on climate change could save one million lives by 2050 and yield benefits worth an estimated US $54.1 trillion – twice the cost of mitigation.