Earth Day Communiqué issued by Climate Leaders (full text)

JOINT COMMUNIQUÉ

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE FORUM HIGH-LEVEL CLIMATE CONGRESS

Political Will is a Renewable Resource

Immediate and Radical Collaboration Required

Alongside the United Nations 24th annual climate conference, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum gathered some of the world’s foremost climate leaders in Oslo who discussed climate change as a matter of international peace and security and how climate-smart finance, cities and subnational actors could drive significant change forward in meeting the targets of the Paris Agreement (2015), to limit global warming to 1.5ºC. [1]

Oslo, 22 April 2019 — Earth Day

Climate change is a threat multiplier, as well as an accelerant for armed conflict, putting the stability of nation states at risk and undermining regional and international peace and security in fundamental ways—threatening the viability of natural systems and human settlements, economies and political systems.

Without serious and rapid global mobilization and collaboration among a multiplicity of actors—government leaders, business leaders, and civil society, including women’s groups, indigenous peoples, and youth—to address, mitigate and reverse human-induced climate disruption, many of the drivers of conflict are likely to worsen in significant ways.

Today, as multilateralism is under threat and shared responsibilities are being challenged, a paradigm shift in collaboration and compromise is required. While this may involve a reinvention of multilateralism, pioneering leadership across the globe is urgently needed.

We must reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050—an unprecedented innovation challenge requiring political will driven by radical integrity, creative, inclusive collaboration, and no excuses.


Climate, Peace and Security

The adverse effects of climate change, ecological disruption and extreme weather events impact local resource competition, livelihood security, sea level rise, coastal degradation, water scarcity, land degradation, biodiversity and food security.

Climate-related insecurities and economic inequalities and challenges can exacerbate fragility, instability and conflict. Consequences of climate disruption, such as drought, can lead to large and small-scale armed conflict over natural resources, such as water and access to or ability to farm arable land. Climate disruption often forces displacement and migration, and creates new opportunities for criminal networks of human and arms traffickers.

All of these are drivers of conflict and a threat to the maintenance of peace and security.

Climate Change recognized as a Threat to International Peace & Security by the UN Security Council

It is within the purview of the United Nations Security Council to consider all risks that have an impact on international peace and security, including climate change. The UN Security Council has expressed concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security (S/PRST/2011/15).

In recent years, the UN Security Council has increasingly recognized the adverse effects of climate change and ecological changes on stability in country-specific and regional contexts, including in the Lake Chad basin region (resolution 2349 (2017)), Somalia (resolution 2408 (2018)), West Africa and the Sahel (S/PRST/2018/3), Mali (resolution 2423 (2018)) and Darfur (resolution 2429 (2018)).

United Nations Member States have also called on the UN Security Council to better understand climate-related security risks and to report on climate risks when analyzing situations on its agenda.

The United Nations Security Council should consider formally recognizing climate change as a threat to international peace and security through the adoption of a Security Council resolution on climate change, and take into regular consideration climate-related security risks in its deliberations on relevant country-specific situations.

The United Nations should also consider the appointment of a special representative on climate change and security, along with efforts to systematically address climate-related challenges within mediation efforts, exploring how parties can come together around climate adaptation and the use of preventive diplomacy when climate change risks undermine stability.

Early Warning Indicators, Risk Assessments and Management Strategies, and Reporting

Early warning indicators, systems and contingency plans are necessary to identify changes in natural processes and respond to extreme weather events, potential impacts on food security, drought, floods, landslides, storm surge, soil erosion, and saline water intrusion. These all have concrete and compounding impacts on socio-economic stability.

United Nations Members States, the European Union, Pacific Island leaders [2] and others have emphasized the need for comprehensive climate-related security risk information, analysis, early warning mechanisms and management strategies to make informed decisions.

The effectiveness of early warning indicators and risk assessments relies on the quality, accessibility and integration of climate-related data and information.

Increased regional, sub-regional and cross-border cooperation on reliable climate-related data, analysis and security risks is needed, especially from regions where collection of data is scarce. This could take the shape of data resource sharing between national climate mitigation, adaptation and defense budgets. Distributed ledgers and artificial intelligence could facilitate widespread integrated sharing of climate science data. Cooperation efforts might also include the establishment of climate security centers staffed by expert analysts watching for climate and security hotspots, and issuing regular recommendations for action at the national or regional level, within or across defense, intelligence and foreign affairs institutions. [3]

Along with data sharing, agreement on which data sets to use is crucial. Sets of geographic climate and security early warning indicators should be agreed and established.

In addition, a coordinated approach is needed to ensure that climate and security data, assessments, and suggestions for early actions—that can reasonably be taken in response to information about growing risks—are made readily available to decision makers at local, national and regional levels, as well as to international bodies such as the United Nations Security Council.

Assessments should take into account the greater risks, burdens and impacts on groups most adversely impacted. It is important to ensure the effective participation of women and women’s groups and indigenous peoples in climate-related risk-mitigation strategies—including their participation in cooperation efforts, data collection and analysis, and development and deployment of solutions.

A structured mechanism, as called for by indigenous leaders in the Nayzul Declaration [4], should be established for shared ideas exchange and decision making with indigenous peoples, faith groups, State representatives, industry groups and others to advance and implement the standards, norms, principles and rights in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for the purposes of protecting indigenous lands, territories and resources for future generations and for developing a responsible and environmentally sustainable and emerging green economy.

Water Management and Preventive Water Diplomacy to Relieve Water Stress & Sea Level Rise

Trans-boundary water resources (including trans-boundary basins and aquifers) cover around 46% of the Earth’s land surface, and 40% of the world’s population live within their vicinity. [5] Over one-third of the world’s population (2.4 billion people) lives within 100 km (60 miles) of oceanic coast. [6]

The distribution and management of water resources, water use, and the regulation of pollution require navigating intrastate as well as interstate decision-making—especially user groups competing for (often limited or scarce) resources. Weather-related floods, coastal storms and the intensifying impact of sea-level rise on coastal cities and plains also require coordinated response and preparedness.

Transboundary water disputes require early detection and resolution. Trans-boundary cooperation—including interests of upstream and downstream stakeholders, including indigenous peoples—should be increased through coordinated, regular, multi-stakeholder dialogue initiatives and water data sharing, especially in areas where water resources, water scarcity and food insecurity can lead to disagreements that may destabilize communities, countries or regions.

Public and private-sector finance and investment should prioritize climate-smart agriculture and food system management. Policy and market incentives should reward the building of carbon-rich soil ecology, zero carbon emissions and chemical runoff, efficient water usage, with particular emphasis on support for small farms. [7]


Climate-Smart Finance & Investment

Mobilizing to solve climate change is perhaps the biggest economic growth opportunity in world history. According to the New Climate Economy Report “bold action could yield a direct economic gain of US$26 trillion through to 2030 compared with business-as-usual. And this is likely to be a conservative estimate.” [8]

The financial sector supports the global economy by providing funding for economic activities to create economic growth, employment and social welfare. Banking and finance can deliver critical structural support for transformational innovation.

In order to make climate-smart finance the mainstream standard, the international financial sector needs shift from its current strategies to actively working to meet the targets outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement [9], the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals [10] and recommendations from the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD). [11]

Local, national, and international incentives and regulations must require financial sector actors of all kinds to align with climate, sustainability, and transparency goals, and integration of best practices for protecting and building natural and human capital, alongside financial capital gains.

Addressing Finance Transition Risk

Social and physical changes in the climate are often long-term in nature and are not sufficiently taken into account in financial, commercial, and public-sector decision-making processes.

The potential impacts of climate change on the financial sector may not only be physical: they may also derive from the transition to a low-carbon economy. Transition risk can arise from changes in climate-related policies, technology, market and preferences. Incorrect pricing of risk could lead to misallocation of capital—which risks supporting companies and solutions that are aligned with neither the Paris Climate Agreement nor the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Inaction or inadequate pricing of climate risk and social considerations could trigger a massive unexpected reprising of assets and may—in a worst-case scenario—challenge the stability of the international financial system.

The international financial sector must work toward a more efficient allocation of capital to support the transition to a low-carbon economy, and a more accurate pricing of social considerations and climate risk in investment and financing decisions.

Assets traded in financial markets, such as bonds, should all qualify as ‘green’, ‘blue’ or ‘sustainable’, or having some wider return on investment to make net-zero emissions by 2050 a market imperative and to reduce the chances of significant holding of stranded assets.

The international financial sector must strive to lead by example and systematically address all climate externalities in their investment decisions, recognize that all investments have social and/or environmental impacts on the economy and society (positive as well as negative impacts), and that for reaching the net-zero 2050 target, positive climate impact is imperative. Any further investments in fossil-fuel based infrastructure, and/or product- or service-offerings incompatible with the net-zero goal, may end as stranded assets.

Establishing Targets and Transparency

As financial intermediaries, financial institutions have an important role in supporting and accelerating the fundamental economic changes needed to build a more sustainable future. Transparency is essential for financial market players and society to assess the long-term risk and return of companies and how they manage sustainability, and take informed and efficient decisions about the future.

Increased transparency enables investors, decision makers, and civil society to more effectively compare and evaluate how companies implement long-term climate objectives. Increased transparency can push companies in a more sustainable direction, by revealing high-value opportunities for improved performance and more resilient future planning. Increased transparency is necessary for avoiding short-termism—or the excessive focus by financial players, boards and politicians on short-term results and impacts at the expense of long-term interests.

The international financial sector must work to set and publish ambitious Paris-compatible, net-zero targets for enhanced transparency relating to climate risk and resilience, for decarbonization of portfolios, and a transition to climate-smart returns on investment.

A common terminology, shared metrics, adaptive planning, and enhanced legal and technological support for transparency in private and public-sector investments should be created. This will support financial sector leaders aligning with recommendations of the Task-Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure, to develop and enhance climate-related metrics, risk management, strategic planning, and governance.

Global Financial Innovation & Leadership

The financial sector must take a more pro-active role in encouraging closer cooperation across sectors and industries with relevant stakeholders, to share information, reduce investment in harmful practices, and develop new models of climate-smart finance and investment. In addition, the financial sector should encourage cooperation between public and private financial institutions to facilitate new business and financing models to close the investment gaps in areas such as infrastructure, energy efficiency, renewable energy and circular business models.

Leadership and growth must be redefined from the current linear or take-make-dispose model to focus on society-wide sustainable circular business models. According to the Circularity Gap Report (2019) only 9% of the world economy is circular. To unlock the capacity of current resources, reduce waste, and stimulate ecological, economic and social sustainability, a transformation from a linear to a circular model is vital. A circular economy will generate systemic changes, which in turn will require new business models supported by innovative financial tools and services.

Circular business models [12] are essential in reaching the Paris Climate Agreement’s goals and the SDGs, because they standardize the reduce-reuse-recycle approach to managing resources, materials and products. The most reliable future financial returns will come from science-informed portfolios of climate-smart, resilience-building and zero-emissions investments.

The development of new products and services to support the transition to a more sustainable economy should be a focus for financial institutions at all scales, in the public and private sectors.

Decarbonization of investment portfolios, the shift to climate-aligned financial instruments such as green bonds, climate bonds, sustainable bonds and other sovereign and municipal financial instruments is needed to accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy and help to decentralize power generation and spread access to electricity, technology and mobility.

The price of capital should reflect the true costs of business activities by incorporating social and environmental risk factors. To ensure prices for energy, goods and services, and financial holdings, account appropriately for the destructive effect of carbon emissions, major investors, enterprises of all sizes, and capital providers should account for hidden carbon costs and encourage the use of economy-wide carbon pricing policies.

Revenues from carbon pricing can be recycled into the everyday economy to protect and expand local economic activity, intensify incentives for moving away from carbon-emitting practices, and provide the most cost-effective transition possible.

In order to achieve climate-safe portfolios, science-based reinvestment strategies are needed. They should align with the 1.5ºC upper limit for global warming, anticipate accelerating technological innovation and market change, and eliminate funding for carbon-emitting fuels.


Climate-Smart Cities

Approximately 4.2 billion people currently live in urban areas; this number is expected to rise to nearly 5 billion people by 2030. The design of human settlements of all sizes will affect our overall potential for climate resilience and sustainable development. 60% of the infrastructure needed for the increasing number of urban dwellers is yet to be built. Sustainable urbanization promoting compactness, connectivity and efficient emission free infrastructure and mobility benefits climate change mitigation.

Full and effective implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals greatly depends on the quality of human experience in cities and our ability to plan for and achieve a climate-smart future. Countries will achieve their Paris targets in a more cost effective manner by engaging more collaboratively with cities. Cities that lead the way in decarbonization of infrastructure, buildings, transport and industry can guide others to achieve rapid change by sharing best practices, investment strategies, innovations, and effective policies.

Best-practice sharing for rapid urban decarbonization (in municipal facilities, through utilities, and for all new infrastructure and building) should be a priority for all city leaders. Nationally Determined Contributions will be stronger, and achieve faster timelines, if cities report, share, and scale up breakthrough policy innovations that achieve climate-smart urbanization and sustainable development for people at all income levels.

One of our greatest global challenges is how to build resilience for the nearly one billion people living in informal settlements—particularly those exposed to climate-related impacts such as floods and landslides. Climate change is exacerbating risks for those living in already inadequate living conditions.

The UNFCCC’s NAZCA platform [13], the UN Global Compact [14], the UN Ocean Conference voluntary commitments portal [15], provide thousands of bold examples of leadership and should be leveraged to chart the fastest, most cost-effective timeline to climate-smart city management—including science-based targets, resource-sharing, implementation of best practices, and comprehensive city and regional climate action plans.

All cities, including those currently leading the integration of climate-smart practices, should join networks of cities committed to ambitious climate action, to not only to share learning, but to also set targets, develop and approve climate action plans, and to disclose progress via public reporting platforms that feed into the UNFCCC’s NAZCA Platform.

National governments should develop frameworks that enable local action, provide cities with increased access to climate finance, support targeted capacity-building (including new technologies), encourage climate-smart investment via regulations such as improved building codes and procurement policies and integrate local action and achievements into consolidated reporting on progress in meeting Paris Agreement commitments. Cities’ leadership can help to enhance economy-wide national climate efforts, based not only on centralized targets and mandates, but also best practices for building value locally and at scale.

Cities of all sizes should commit to 100% renewable energy targets, set timelines for limiting and eventually banning diesel and petrol cars, maximize protected spaces for pedestrians and bicycles, expand zero-emissions public transport, prioritize availability of healthy, sustainably farmed food in all neighborhoods, and transparently monitor air quality levels through a shared, verified, independent monitoring network.


The following institutions, organizations and individuals contributed to this Joint Communiqué:

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat); Citizens’ Climate Education, Joseph Robertson, Global Strategy Director; Nordea Bank, Thina Margrethe Saltvedt, Senior Advisor, Sustainable Finance Norway; United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Gina Torry, Senior Advisor, Norwegian Nobel Global Programmes; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST); South Pole Group, Kaj Embren; Partnership for Change, Ingrid Stange, Chair; Cleantech 21 Foundation, Nick Beglinger, Co-founder and CEO; American University of Paris, Claudio Piani, Climate Science Professor & Associate Dean; Civita, Håvard Saksvikrønning; Don Shelby, Peabody Award winning journalist; InSpire Invest, Jan-Olaf Willums; Business for Social Responsibility, Aron Cramer, President & CEO; Stichting Environment & Development Resource Centre (EDRC) & Institute for Planetary Security, Alexander Verbeek; Ingrid von Streng Velken; Bellona; Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership; Ceres; Crisis Management Initiative; DNV-GL Group; EAT Foundation; Prince of Wales’ Corporate Leaders Group; United Nations Climate Technology Centre and Network; University of Oslo.


Notes

  1. The Paris Agreement calls “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change produced a Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC, and determined limiting global warming to 1.5ºC is vital for avoiding the most dangerous impacts of climate change. ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC’, IPCC, 2018. URL: www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
  2. The Boe Declaration, adopted by Pacific island leaders in 2018, aims to enhance regional information-sharing and analysis and to draw upon climate data and disaster analysis to inform responses to shared security threats.
  3. The Thirty Years’ Climate Warming: Climate Change, Security, and the Responsibility to Prepare,” The Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, School of Diplomacy and International Relations, Seton Hall University. Volume XX, Number 1, Fall/Winter 2018.
  4. ‘The Nayzul Declaration’, Nobel Peace Prize Forum, Oslo 2017. URL: www.nobelpeaceprize.org/Nobel-Peace-Prize-Forum/2017-Across-Dividing-Lines/Press-release-The-Nayzul-Declaration-and-the-Nobel-Peace-Prize-Forum-Oslo
  5. ‘Water Diplomacy’, OSCE. URL: www.osce.org/sg/120614
  6. ‘Living Ocean’, NASA. URL: science.nasa.gov/earth-science/oceanography/living-ocean
  7. EAT-Lancet Commission on Health Diets from Sustainable Food Systems. URL: eatforum.org/eat-lancet-commission/
  8. ‘The New Growth Agenda’, The New Climate Economy Report 2018. URL: newclimateeconomy.report/2018/the-new-growth-agenda/
  9. ‘The Paris Agreement’, UNFCCC, 2015. URL: unfccc.int/process-and-meetings/the-paris-agreement/the-paris-agreement
  10. ‘The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, United Nations, 2015. URL: sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs
  11. ‘Recommendations Report’, Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure. URL: www.fsb-tcfd.org/publications/final-recommendations-report/
  12. ‘Circular Business Models for the Built Environment’, Ellen MacArthur Foundation. URL: www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/ce100/CE100-CoPro-BE_Business-Models-Interactive.pdf
  13. The NAZCA portal is the UN Climate Change Secretariat’s ‘Non-state Actors’ Zone for Climate Action’. URL: climateaction.unfccc.int
  14. The UN Global Compact is the United Nations’ sustainable business alliance, with 9,997 companies in 162 countries, as of Earth Day 2019. URL: www.unglobalcompact.org
  15. The UN Ocean Conference launched a global network of action commitments, which are tracked through its Voluntary Commitments portal. URL: oceanconference.un.org/commitments/

This Joint Communiqué is also available in PDF form, for download, at http://ctzn.earth/communique

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