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2019 UN Climate Action Summit: World leaders’ inaction incurs wrath of growing climate movement

On 23 September, the Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres, convened the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit, where government leaders and representatives from youth, business, cities, and finance focused on increasing ambitions to lower greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilience. In advance of the Summit a whole slew of reports was released; each showing the growing urgency of climate change, a widening gap between climate targets and commitments to action, and the growing impacts of already occurring climate change. Gathered world leaders, however, are not impressed, as few raise their ambition.

Leading climate science organizations published the “United in Science” synthesis report with the worrying headline message that climate change impacts are “hitting harder and sooner” than previously forecasted. The IPCC Report on land-use highlighted worrying trends that both aggravate climate change and put sustainable development at risk. Deteriorating soil fertility threatens food security and affects capacity to store carbon, further exacerbating global warming. A leaked IPCC report on oceans and the cryosphere further warned that more than a quarter billion people could be displaced when global warming hits 2°C.

Despite mounting evidence, and worse than expected trends, the world’s response has been far from adequate. According to the Global Climate Adaptation report, by 2030 the world may see a 100 million more poor; severe water shortages; and unprecedented mass migrations. Trillion-dollar investments are inevitable, but inaction will prove much costlier. Although, climate change calls for the tripling of ‘nationally determined contributions’, according to a joint report by UNDP and UNFCCC, most governments – particularly industrial countries – have not yet adjusted their ambitions.

Against the backdrop of worsening climate change and dwindling governmental climate targets, the Climate Action Summit is the latest in a series of international efforts to mobilize large-scale initiatives to combat climate change and to abate its negative impacts. In 2014, then Secretary General Ban Ki-moon convened the first UN Climate Summit. Last year, Governor Jerry Brown of California hosted the Global Climate Action Summit. In the context of the UNFCCC, the main UN climate process, continuous efforts are made to showcase and encourage a multitude of actions by a broad range of actors. Contrary to previous efforts, which emphasized the role of non-state and local actors, such as businesses, cities and regions and civil society organizations, the Climate Action Summit also provided a platform for governments to announce plans to reduce emissions and to help people to respond to the climate crisis.

The Summit saw the launch of 28 collaborative initiatives across nine thematic areas, including climate finance, Industry transition, mitigation, resilience and adaptation and nature-based solutions. Some of the more eye-catching initiatives include a new coalition of pension funds and insurance providers, managing US$2.3 trillion, which aims to shift investments away from carbon intensive industries with the goal to limit the increase in average temperatures to 1.5°C. Members of the coalition engage with high-carbon companies to help them adopt more sustainable business practices, while divestment from highly polluting industries is on the table as an ultimate measure. To catalyze its impact, the coalition calls on other large asset owners and sovereign wealth funds to join and also align their investment portfolios. In another large initiative, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the World Bank, the European Commission, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany, made a US$790 million commitment to support research and innovations that help assist smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods and increase their resilience to climate change impacts.

Despite these striking initiatives by businesses, finance, cities, regions, and other stakeholders, governments have not adequately stepped up. Although the Summit tried to establish stronger links between ambitious actions between non-state and local actions and governments, it yielded few new governmental commitments. A few countries (South Korea, the UK, Germany and France) have pledged to double their contributions to the Green Climate Fund and other climate financing programs, but none of the major economies have acted on the call to raise their climate targets or presented concrete plans. Sadly, the Summit does not seem to have significantly rallied higher government ambitions.

Given the disappointing yield of new governmental commitments, the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit may be most remembered for the powerful speech delivered by sixteen-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. In her impassioned speech, she blasted world leaders’ inaction and accused them of failing young people and betraying future generations.

“you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. (…) You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.”

Governments will get another chance to raise their pledges at the UN Climate Change Conference in Santiago, Chile, later this year. But time for credible climate commitments by governments is running out, and their inaction is increasingly incurring the wrath of a growing movement of concerned youth, as well as older generations.

Stem vandaag Groenlinks

Als iemand die dag in dag uit bezig is met klimaat en duurzaamheid, roep ik op vandaag toch vooral te gaan stemmen.

Dit zijn de laatste Europese verkiezingen waarop we nog kunnen voorkomen dat de aarde met meer dan 1,5C gemiddeld opwarmt. De verschillen tussen 1,5 en 2C zijn volgens het laatste rapport van de VN (IPCC) dramatisch.

Het zijn ook cruciale politieke tijden. Het spook van nationalisme waart weer door Europa, juist op het moment dat internationale samenwerking meer nodig is dan ooit. Nederland zal grensoverschrijdende problemen als de ophitting van de aarde en het verdwijnen van planten en dieren alleen niet kunnen oplossen. Europese samenwerking is nodig. Mensen die alleen spreken van meer of minder Europa moesten meer over de inhoud praten.

Tegelijkertijd moeten we ook erkennen dat een andere internationale samenwerking nodig is. Eén die niet alleen aanzet to grotere ongelijkheid, één die niet voornamelijk rijken en multinationale ondernemingen voortrekt.

Als ik verkozen word in het parlement zal ik mij vol inzetten voor een versnelling van de groene transformatie die we nodig hebben. Ik zal mij verzetten tegen elk handelsakkoord dat niet past bij de duurzaamheids- en klimaatdoelen waar alle landen in de wereld zich aan gecommitteerd hebben.

Daarnaast heb ik een groot hart voor de mensen wiens stem minder luid is; seksuele, ethnische, religieuze minderheden, de allerarmsten die de meest hevige effecten van falend milieu- en sociaal beleid ondervinden. Ik wil ervoor zorgen dat we de stem en de rol van deze minderheden erkennen in het verduurzamen van Europa.
In tegenstelling tot wat Trouw’s Duurzame 100 zou doen geloven zijn er wél duurzame kampioenen onder niet-witte en praktisch opgeleide mensen. Zonder deze kampioenen is er geen duurzame toekomst voor iedereen.

What the LGBT+ community teaches us and how it inspires my fight for Europe

“The queer is not represented as a singularity but as part of an assemblage of resistant technologies that include collectivity, imagination and a kind of situationist commitment to surprise and shock”
(Judith Halberstam, Queer art of failure, 2011)

Diversity in the LGBTQIA community teaches us to collaborate and to go against the mainstream in order to realise a better future. These lessons are more valuable than ever. In six EU Member States there is still no same-sex registration, in half of the Member States there is no same-sex marriage. Violence and discrimination remain the order of the day. The fight is not over.

The resilience that we have learned is also needed in other areas. The spectre of nationalism is once again haunting Europe. Populists inspire fear rather than hope. The EU seems to have more ears for big capital than for its citizens. While the EU defends large companies, climate change is becoming an existential threat. Does the EU care as much about our survival as it cares for big business?

Our freedom and well-being stand and fall with freedom and well-being in Europe. Green and social Europeans must shake the EU up, swim against the current and show alternatives. That is also how I want to fight for Europe.

New Publication: A research roadmap for quantifying non-state and subnational climate mitigation action

Angel Hsu, Niklas Höhne, Takeshi Kuramochi, Mark Roelfsema, Amy Weinfurter, Yihao Xie, Katharina Lütkehermöller, Sander Chan, Jan Corfee-Morlot, Philip Drost, Pedro Faria, Ann Gardiner, David J. Gordon, Thomas Hale, Nathan E Hultman, John Moorhead, Shirin Reuvers, Joana Setzer, Neelam Singh, Christopher Weber & Oscar Widerberg

Non-state and subnational climate actors have become central to global climate change governance. Quantitatively assessing climate mitigation undertaken by these entities is critical to understand the credibility of this trend. In this Perspective, we make recommendations regarding five main areas of research and methodological development related to evaluating non-state and subnational climate actions: defining clear boundaries and terminology; use of common methodologies to aggregate and assess non-state and subnational contributions; systematically dealing with issues of overlap; estimating the likelihood of implementation; and addressing data gaps.

German Development Institute (DIE) is seeking a Researcher (m/f, 100 %)

The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) is one of the leading research institutes on development policy. Through excellent research, policy advice and training, the Institute contributes to finding solutions to global challenges.

Department I “Bi- and Multilateral Development Cooperation” is seeking a Researcher (m/f, 100 %)

Salary from € 46.000,00 p.a. up to € 70.000,00 p.a. depending on qualifications (German public sector tariff, EG TVöD 13/14)

Position Nr. 2017-I-04

The position should be filled as soon as possible and is currently limited until 30 June 2018. Subject to final approval of funds, an extension until 28 February 2019 is possible.

The person selected will be expected to conduct research on European policies for global development at the interface of development policy and other relevant EU pol-icies (preferably migration or peace and security) within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He / she will be a member of the research team in the project “Europe’s role in the World: From aid to global development”. The project analyses policy responses and implementation gaps of EU development policy towards low and middle income countries and also investigates how the coordination and coherence between development policy and other fields of external relations can be improved.

  • Qualifications and requirements:
    Excellent academic record, master in political science, economics or related so-cial sciences required, preferably also PhD;
  • Proven knowledge and experience in both research and policy advice on EU ex-ternal relations towards developing countries, preferably with a focus on the de-velopment-migration nexus, the EU’s external migration policy and the EU’s contribution to implement the 2030 Agenda;
  • Research or other relevant work experience gained in developing countries;
  • Fluent spoken and written English, good knowledge of German is an asset, good knowledge in another major international language;
  • Willingness to work in a team;
  • Willingness and aptness to travel abroad, including countries with a tropical cli-mate („Tropentauglichkeit“).

The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) offers an inspiring, family-friendly working environment at the interface of research and policy advice, with ample opportunities to engage in international discussions, political processes and scientific debates.
As the DIE is committed to increasing the share of female research staff members, women are particularly encouraged to apply. In the case of equal qualification, phys-ically challenged persons will be given preference.

For further questions, please contact Dr. Stephan Klingebiel or Dr. Christine Hackenesch.

Job interviews are likely to take place on 15 September 2017. When applying, please note the position number 2017-I-04. Applications, also possible by E-Mail, including all necessary documents (motivation letter, CV, relevant certificates), should be sub-mitted by 29 August 2017 at:

Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Tulpenfeld 6, 53113 Bonn/Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)228 94927-0 | |

Under Trump: Double Down on International Cooperation

It’s a very black day – perhaps the blackest day in my life – for international cooperation. I have seen a few declaring the Paris Agreement dead, although technically we would have reached ratification without the US as well. But I think this is the time to double down on international cooperation and the very agendas our institute, and our colleagues around the world are working on. Our international cooperation on sustainable development and on climate change are the best and most coherent answer we have at this point against the narrow nationalism and authoritarianism, the ghosts of our times.

In keepin with this, I will double down on my research and advocacy on climate action, find the links to a broader sustainable development agenda – and work towards a coherent, hopeful narrative as antidote to the backlash against international cooperation we see today.