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Summary highlights of UN Climate Summit, 23 September, New York

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The UN Climate Summit, convened by Ban Ki-moon, took place on 23 September in New York, and saw the participation of roughly 100 heads of state, and the same number of corporate CEOs, including from oil and gas, under the UN Private Sector Forum. A number of new announcements and reaffirmations were made by both countries and companies. As well, throughout the week there was a wide array of side meetings organized by influential stakeholders such as the World Bank, UN Global Compact, IETA and WRI.

The Summit marked the largest climate meeting of heads of states since the 2009 Copenhagen climate negotiations, which ended without consensus on a new deal. It was largely seen as successful in placing climate change back on the agenda, and catalyzing momentum towards the objective of a new agreement in Paris, December 2015. Some of the major announcements made that day:

  • The US and China – the world’s two largest emitters – announced a raising in ambition when they come forward with their next round of commitments in Q1 2015
  • China also announced it would peak its emissions - at a year yet to be confirmed, and support on carbon pricing
  • On carbon pricing, 74 countries, including South Africa and China, supported the World Bank’s statement. In addition, over 1,000 businesses indicated support for a carbon price either through the World Bank statement or other initiatives (UN Global compact, CDP, Caring for Climate). The World Bank, World Economic Forum, and “We mean business” coalition announced they are to convene a carbon pricing leadership coalition
  • The industry-led Oil and Gas Climate Initiative was announced to enable the industry to collaboratively address climate change
  • The Climate and Clean Air Coalition launched its Oil and Gas Methane Partnership
  • A new pledge from major palm oil companies Wilmar, Cargill, Asian Agri, and Golden Agri Resources, facilitated by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce
  • Announcement by the insurance industry of intention to create a climate risk investment framework by 2015 in Paris
  • Following on from the Warsaw 2013 climate negotiations, there was an adoption of a New York Declaration on Forests to halve the loss of natural forests by 2020 and strive to end it by 2030
  • A host of other initiatives and announcements by various sectors and civil society

The previous Sunday, September 22nd, saw civil marches organized around the world to demand action on climate change, with an estimated 300,000 in New York and a further 100,000 elsewhere – much larger than original estimates predicted.

Further detailed information on the summit can be found from the IISD summary.