In an effort to move beyond promises and pledges, leaders from around the world have joined the faith community and others in San Francisco to put on display actions under way to address the global threat of climate change, and to mobilize even more.
The three-day Global Climate Action Summit officially opened Sept. 12, and is expected to draw more than 4,000 delegates to the Bay Area. Its primary focus is show- casing the steps taken so far toward fulfilling the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Under that accord, 195 nations committed to limit average global temperature rise “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and as low as 1.5 C (2.7 F).
While the summit, hosted by California Gov. Jerry Brown, will highlight achievements to date in implementing the Paris Agreement — announcements of progress and new commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cities, regions, organizations and companies are expected throughout the three days — it also aims to push the global community to “take ambition to the next level,” the gathering’s theme. Scientists have estimated the planet has already warmed 1 C since the late 19th century and that the initial national pledges under the Paris accord will yield an overall temperature rise of 3 C by the end of the century. In addition, few countries are on track to meet their commitments, and funding for the Green Climate Fund, to assist developing nations in implementing climate mitigation efforts, has been slow to materialize.
The next round of United Nations climate talks, in Katowice, Poland, in December, will serve as the first official stock take of global progress. “Climate change is the defining issue of our time, and we are at a defining moment,” António Guterres, U.N. Secretary General, said in a speech at U.N. headquarters in New York. He added that if the world doesn’t change course by 2020, “we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change.”
“God has made the earth green and beautiful. And there is no greater threat to our ‘green and beautiful’ earth than the more frequent and intense droughts, floods, storms and wildfire brought by climate change, which knows no barrier,” said Nana Firman, co-founder of the Global Muslim Climate Network.