A week to remember as climate pledges pour in and “stranded assets” hit the headlines
From Carbon Brief Weekly
2nd October 2015
Mixed news on climate change mitigation.
It’s hard to think of another seven-day period when developments in climate policy have come so thick and fast. And the furious pace hasn’t let up today with India‘s long-awaited and much-anticipated climate pledge being published this morning. Carbon Brief has all the details.
But let’s first reverse back up to last Friday when China got things rolling by announcing, as reported by BusinessGreen, that it is to “invest $3.1bn in helping developing and vulnerable countries deal with the worst impacts of climate change”. The UK quickly followed by revealing that it would be pledging £5.8bn in climate finance between April 2016 and March 2021, which, the Daily Telegraph noted, was “far higher than the £3.87bn spent over the last five years”. The money is to come from within the existing “0.7%” foreign aid commitment.
In New York, meanwhile, the Pope was addressing the United Nations and stressing to his high-level audience why tackling climate change was so crucial for sustainable development. His speech marked the official confirmation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which, as we explained, include dedicated goals on climate change and energy.
Shell’s icy slip-up
Monday saw the surprising announcement by Shell that it had abandoned drilling for oil off the coast of Alaska. The Telegraph described it as a “failure”. The Guardian said it was a victory for environmentalists who had long campaigned to stop oil exploration in the Arctic. But it cautioned that, even though Shell had spent around $7bn on its failed venture, it was “still hungry for fossil fuels”. The Financial Times said the pullout will further fuel the “stranded assets” debate.
Banking on Carney
Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, himself did plenty on Tuesday to fuel the stranded assets debate when he gave a speech to insurers warning about the financial risks presented by climate change. The BBC were granted an exclusive interview with Carney in which he told their business editor that failing to act on climate change “would mean more abrupt change, that would mean bigger shocks to the value of financial assets, bigger strains on banks and insurance companies that are exposed to those assets”. An editorial in the Financial Times offered a caveated welcome: “Mr Carney’s speech has introduced a credible voice into an important debate. He is right that greater disclosure can help to smooth the transition to a lower carbon world. But how to force the economy along this path is a matter for governments, not central banks to dictate.”
Thursday marked the official deadline for nations to submit their post-2020 climate pledges – otherwise known in UN jargon as INDCs. Carbon Brief spent much of the week hitting the refresh button on the INDC online portal in an attempt to keep up with the blizzard of submissions. We did so to keep our twin trackers up-to-date – one which monitored the headlines from each pledge and another to keep a tally on the financial requests being made by many developing nations. There was also a great sense of satisfaction filling in each country on our global map as each pledge was published. What the map now highlights are the few remaining countries – disproportionately represented in the Middle East – that have still not yet submitted an INDC.
The UN will now bash away at calculators for a month and attempt to aggregate all of the INDCs it has received in time for the Paris climate conference in December. Others have already done so. For example, Reuters reported on Thursday the analysis of Climate Action Tracker (CAT), which looked at how much the INDCs have nudged the world towards the internationally agreed 2C goal. “We’re below three degrees for the first time,” said Bill Hare of Climate Analytics, which is part of CAT. “We’re obviously far from where we need to be, but this is a signal that the process can work.”