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Guterres: The green economy is the future

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Winning the race against climate change to keep our planet livable and on a healthy trajectory requires action rooted in sustainable solutions aligned with the Paris Agreement and the UN-driven 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Saturday.

“To put it simply, we need green development.  We need sustainable development.  And we need it now,” the UN chief told world leaders in Beijing, discussing ways to boost green development as part of a conference on China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Painting a sobering picture of the challenges ahead – for the planet and the broader effort to secure improved human well-being while reducing environmental risks – Mr. Guterres recalled that the last four years were the hottest on record and that natural disasters have wreaked havoc in nearly every region of the globe.

“No country or community is immune. And, as we know, the poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer, and the worst hit,” said Mr. Guterres, warning that the climate crisis threatens decades of progress and jeopardizes all our plans for inclusive, sustainable development.

“And the clock is ticking.  Science has clearly told us that we have only 12 years for this transformation, if we want to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Yet the race to head off a climate catastrophe and ensure a safe and secure planet for all can be won, he said, with global action rooted in solutions that are sustainable and aligned with the landmark Paris accord and the UN 2030 Agenda.

To help generate ambition and to showcase practical, feasible and ambitious solutions to meet globally agreed goals, Mr. Guterres is convening a Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September.

“I am calling on leaders to come with concrete, realistic plans to enhance their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020,” he said, referring to efforts by each country under the Paris Agreement to reduce national emissions and adapt faster to the impacts of climate change.

The Secretary-General said these plans must show how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by 45 per cent over the next decade and how the world can get to net zero emissions globally by 2050 through strong mitigation and adaptation measures.

“It is why I have been asking leaders around the world to adopt carbon pricing that reflects the true cost of emissions, end subsidies on fossil fuels, and stop construction of new coal plants beyond 2020,” he explained, noting that he is also counting on leaders to make sure their plans include women as key decision-makers and address the disproportionate impacts many women experience from climate change.

In all this, Chinese leadership will continue to be crucial, said Mr. Guterres, stressing that new renewable energy jobs in China now outnumber those created in the oil and gas industries.  China also played a pivotal role in building bridges and securing an agreement at last December’s UN Climate Conference in Katowice – and will host next year’s second Global Sustainable Transport Conference.

The Belt and Road Initiative, with its huge volume of investment, said, Mr. Guterres, is an opportunity to propel the world into a green future and help countries transition to low-carbon, clean-energy pathways with new infrastructure that is sustainable and equitable.

“The momentum for transformational change is growing,” said the Secretary-General, stressing that the “green economy is the future,” and more governments, cities and businesses than ever understand that climate solutions strengthen economies and protect the environment at the same time.

New technologies are delivering energy at a lower cost than the fossil-fuel-driven economy, he continued, and solar and onshore wind are now the cheapest sources of new power, in virtually all major economies.

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Forum Highlights Low-Carbon Technologies and Policies as Key to Asia- Pacific’s Sustainable Future

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Countries in Asia and the Pacific must adopt more effective and innovative low-carbon policies and technologies to secure greener and more sustainable growth, delegates heard at a forum today hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Hunan Department of Ecology and Environment.

The Asia-Pacific Forum on Low-Carbon Development, now in its fourth year with the theme “Low Carbon Solutions for Our Green Future”, has brought together more than 600 policymakers and technology developers to showcase success stories in promoting and advancing low-carbon solutions to development challenges across the Asia and Pacific region. The forum is being hosted in Hunan Province’s capital, Changsha, in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 16 to 18 October.

“A low-carbon future is vital for combating climate change,” said ADB Vice-President for Administration and Corporate Management Ms. Deborah Stokes. “This year’s forum is about getting people together, exchanging ideas, and getting down to work, particularly in promoting cooperation, innovation, and commercially scalable low-carbon solutions for green development in both urban and rural areas in the PRC as well as the rest of the Asia and Pacific region.”

With keynote speeches from former United Nations Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki Moon and the Special Representative for Climate Change Affairs of the National Development and Reform Commission Mr. Xie Zhenhua, the forum will look into the industrial transformation needed for low-carbon economies including future energy services, pollution control, revolutions in building design, zero-waste cities, and other technological advances.

Ensuring a low-carbon growth path and development future for Asia and the Pacific is critical for the entire world population. Carbon emissions from the region have risen rapidly from 25% of the global total in the 1990s to 40% in 2012 and are expected to reach 50% by 2030. Unabated climate change could also lead to significant economic losses for countries in Asia and the Pacific.

ADB has been working to address the effects of climate change and promote low-carbon growth in Asia and the Pacific, particularly through the introduction of new technologies and policy support. For instance, the ADB-supported Climate Technology Finance Center in Hunan Province has been demonstrating successful low-carbon initiatives that can be replicated elsewhere in the PRC and in the Asia and Pacific region. This includes the establishment of a low carbon technology venture fund; launch of an accelerator program to mentor early stage clean technology startups; and the creation of a low carbon technology network and market platform.

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UNECE supports Azerbaijan towards ratification of key Air Convention protocols

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To avoid damage to the environment, public health and the economy, adopting targets to reduce emissions and introducing measures to enforce them is essential. Providing a framework to facilitate these measures, UNECE assists countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia in formulating policy responses to the air pollution challenge by ensuring the implementation and ratification of the Air Convention and its key Protocols.

In this regard, UNECE organized a national round table to discuss domestic law on air pollution control in Baku, Azerbaijan, this week (8 October 2019). The purpose of the event was to raise the political profile of the Convention and increase awareness of the benefits of accession to its Protocols and to further assist Azerbaijan in aligning its national legislation with the provisions of the Protocols and determining the next steps towards ratification.

High-level participants from the Ministries of Environment and several other Ministries and representatives from the private sector and civil society discussed the recommendations on the steps towards ratification of the key Protocols of the Convention. Participants concluded that ratification was feasible, but several steps on the way to ratification were still needed.

The Air Convention, which remains the only binding regional agreement of its kind anywhere in the world, celebrates 40 years of successful cooperation to tackle air pollution this year. Under the Convention, 51 countries in Europe and North America are cooperating to reduce deadly air pollution, achieving significant results, including the prevention of 600,000 premature deaths annually in Europe.

This week marked an important step in the Convention’s history with the entry into force of amendments to the Gothenburg Protocol, establishing legally binding emissions reduction commitments for 2020 and beyond for the major air pollutants: sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), ammonia (NH3), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5).

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Planting trees has never been easier!

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For the first time ever, some of the best community-led tree planting projects from over 20 countries have come together to deliver a massive boost to the world’s reforestation efforts.   Now, with the Plant-for-the-Planet App, everyone can plant trees worldwide with just a few clicks. 100 per cent of the money raised goes directly to the tree planters.

Greta Thunberg said: “It is simple. We need to protect, restore and fund nature.” The new Plant for the Planet App allows you to do just that. For just €3, you can plant a tree in Brazil. For just €100, you can plant 1,000 trees and help restore the landscape of Indonesia.

You don’t have a sapling at hand? Or want to avoid getting dirt under your fingernails? The Plant-for-the-Planet App is your way to help nature recover by selecting from 50 hand-selected reforestation projects from developing countries. The benefits of tree planting are not just for nature, they are also a vital source of income for poor communities. Many more projects are coming.

Just select your favourite project. Donate. The trees are planted for you. No excuses. Each tree adds to the World Tree Counter.

The Plant-for-the-Planet App is available for Android and iOS or as a WebApp.

Plant Your Own Forest

The app also allows you to:

– See where all your donated trees were planted

– Register trees you’ve planted yourself with photos, locations and more

– Gift donated trees to others

– Start a tree planting competition among schools, with colleagues or friends

– See our new “Forbes List” – ranking people by planted trees!

and more…

Who’s Behind This?

The app was built over two years by seven young people from Plant-for-the-Planet Foundation under the leadership of Sagar Aryal (24), who has been planting trees with Plant-for-the-Planet for over 10 years, as one of 81,000 children and youth from 73 countries.

The Plant-for-the-Planet Foundation aimed to plant 100 million trees by 2030 through their project in the Yucatan-Peninsula. But they realised that 10,000 projects of that size are necessary to restore a trillion trees, and therefore decided to focus on sharing their tools with a multitude of other projects to help them scale up their work – that’s what this app is about. There are no fees or costs for donors, tree-planting NGOs or anyone else. This app helps to implement the excellent goals of the Bonn Challenge – a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030 – by creating a positive chain reaction. More than 10,000 people signed up to the app in the development phase. 

This project could not have happened without the advice, guidance and support of UNEP.

“With the late Wangari Maathai in mind, I’ve poured all my heart and soul into this app for the past two years. I hope she would be happy and proud of us,” said Sagar Aryal (24), lead developer.

What’s Next?

In version 2.0 we will allow users to watch the donated forests grow with satellite images. Stay tuned!

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