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UN Climate Chief: ‘Best And Brightest Must Step up to Lead Transformation’

UNFCCC executive secretary Patricia Espinosa with a fuel cell car in Oslo, Norway. Photo: @PEspinosaC / Twitter
UNFCCC executive secretary Patricia Espinosa with a fuel cell car in Oslo, Norway. Photo: @PEspinosaC / Twitter

With the Paris climate accord’s momentum now “unstoppable,” it is time for the best and brightest innovators to step up and lead the transformation, the UN’s climate chief has said.

Patricia Espinosa told attendees of the 2016 Zero Emission Conference in Oslo, Norway, that the Marrakesh climate summit has made it clear that national governments, local governments and the business sector are all on board with the transformation to a zero carbon economy.

According to the UNFCCC executive secretary, there is an “unstoppable global momentum on climate change and sustainable development.” She says the next step is that “The best and brightest minds, the innovators and influencers in public and private sectors, now need to step up and lead.”

Espinosa made the final stretch of her trip to Oslo by fuel cell car, which provided a “smooth ride” and “fitting start” to her participation in the event, she tweeted. The conference took place on 23 November – barely a week after the COP22 climate summit.

Unparalleled Will to Act

The UNFCCC executive secretary told the conference she had seen “unparalleled political will to act on climate change” at last week’s COP22 climate change summit in Marrakesh, where EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete called the Paris Agreement “irreversible and non-negotiable.”

“The momentum that carried us from hundreds of thousands of people in the streets at the People’s Climate March in 2014… to an ambitious agreement in Paris last year has not diminished,” she stressed.

Espinosa says the markets indicate the transformation to low-emission is under way. The clean energy market is growing, she pointed out, and “now it makes more sense to choose renewable energy over all others. Investors are moving to cleaner, greener assets to secure stable returns,” she said.

Business Sector

Throughout the business sector, Espinosa says, “we see high-efficiency operations, sustainable supply chains and products that reduce consumer’s climate footprint.”

Local governments are moving in the same direction, she stressed. “From cleaner air and adequate water to educated workers who can thrive in the green economy, community-level climate action clearly benefits people.”

“This is why what comes next is so important,” according to Espinosa. “Our actions over the coming months and years will make a positive difference in the lives of billions of people.”

Ambitious Targets

Espinosa praised Norway as the first industrialised nation to ratify the Paris Agreement and for its “ambitious target,” pointing out that the Norwegian government plans to reduce emissions by 40 per cent.

“The intention is to accomplish this by 2030, which is also the year Norway plans to be carbon-neutral,” she said, highlighting that this is at least 20 years ahead of the schedule set out in the Paris Agreement.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) – the country’s largest university – is one of the organisations that form Climate-KIC, the EU’s public-private climate innovation partnership, and already very active in the smart cities and built environment sector.

“Norway is truly positioned at the forefront of action. And now is the time to act,” Espinosa said.

Want to step up and lead? Find out how Climate-KIC can help you get involved as a student or start-up entrepreneur.

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