Time is running out for the world to avoid serious harm from climate change. Scientific reports show that the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are rising faster than anticipated and that the effects are already far-reaching – on temperature patterns, extreme weather events, glacial melting, and acidification of the oceans. Further delay in responding to these warnings increases the risk of a catastrophic and irreversible shift in the global climate system.
In response to this challenge, the UN Foundation and the Club of Madrid formed Global Leadership for Climate Action (GLCA), a task force of world leaders committed to addressing climate change through international negotiations. This initiative convenes former heads of state and government as well as leaders from business, government, and civil society from more than 20 countries to outline the most important components of a new global climate change agreement.
Under the leadership of Ricardo Lagos, president of the Club of Madrid, and UN Foundation President Timothy Wirth, and with the guidance of UN Foundation Senior Fellow Mohamed El-Ashry, the task force produced a Framework for a Post-2012 Agreement on Climate Change which proposed four pathways for negotiation: addressing issues of mitigation, adaptation, technology, and finance. To date, the GLCA framework has been endorsed by 71 former heads of state and other world leaders, including the 25 GLCA members.
In September 2007, the Framework was enthusiastically received at the Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, an initiative of the G8+12. Its recommendations also influenced the UN climate negotiations in Bali in December 2007. The Framework was updated in 2008 with a plan of action focusing particularly on two pathways – technology and finance.
In 2009, GLCA undertook a detailed examination of the issue of adaptation to climate change, a topic of great importance to those who are already suffering from the impacts of climate change – especially in the least developed countries and small island states.
In June, GLCA published Facilitating an International Agreement on Climate Change: Adaptation to Climate Change, a report that makes the case for early action on adaptation and recommends appropriate institutional and financial mechanisms to help those most vulnerable to global warming. During the second half of 2009, GLCA will turn its attention to the issue of finance, with a consultation and a high-level event on the topic.
As the world moves toward a new long-term agreement to cap greenhouse gas emissions, there is an urgent need to undertake reductions immediately. There are significant opportunities for countries to increase energy efficiency, deploy renewable energy, reduce deforestation, improve land use, and take steps to adapt to inevitable climate change.
The most significant near-term opportunity is energy efficiency. Learn more about the UN Foundation’s efforts to promote energy efficiency