A clean energy future with hydrogen could be closer than we think

  • The cost of hydrogen is expected to drop sharply and imminently.
  • Hydrogen technologies could provide 20% of the world’s CO2 abatement needs by 2050.
  • Now it’s up to policy-makers and investors to jump start this transition.

Could 2020 mark a major turning point for the global clean energy transition – with hydrogen at its core? Is this the beginning of a new decade in which governments, industry and investors shift gears together and move more rapidly towards scaling up hydrogen-based solutions for cleaner transport, heating, and industry? On the third anniversary of the Hydrogen Council’s launch at Davos in January 2017, the stars seem to be aligning to make this happen.

According to new data from three global agencies, NASANOAA and the UK Met Office, the 10 years to 2019 were the warmest on record, and this comes after the IPCC’s warning of the expected impacts of 1.5°C of global warming. In the future, we may look back at this past decade as being the one that fully recognised the climate challenge – while the next decade, starting now, offers an opportunity to address it. So while these global organizations have been working to gather data, we – the hydrogen industry – have been working hard to identify solutions to help tackle the issue.

Today, we have the opportunity to tap into the enormous potential of hydrogen for a range of applications, from fuelling passenger cars and heavy-duty trucks to heating buildings and powering industry. It can help us decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors such as heavy transport, steel and aviation; and, most importantly, it generates zero emissions at the point of use, can be produced from renewables such as solar and wind, and provides a solution in instances of excess electricity production, as it allows for long-term energy storage. In fact, if we focus on scaling up in the next decade, hydrogen could meet 18% of the world’s final energy demands by 2050 and provide roughly 20% of the CO2 abatement required to limit global warming.

The cost of hydrogen will fall sharply and sooner than expected

Until now, the biggest challenge for hydrogen energy has been its price tag. The costs associated with hydrogen for everyday use has put it out of reach compared to other options, but this is about to change. A new report entitled Path to Hydrogen Competitiveness: A Cost Perspective, launched by the Hydrogen Council – a CEO-led coalition of now more than 80 companies working to bring the benefits of hydrogen to the world – shows that by massively scaling up hydrogen production, distribution, equipment and component manufacturing, the cost of hydrogen solutions is projected to decrease by up to 50% by 2030 in a wide range of applications, making hydrogen competitive with other low-carbon alternatives and, in some cases, even conventional options.

Significant cost reductions are expected across different hydrogen solutions. For more than 20 of them, such as long-distance and heavy-duty transportation, industrial heating, and heavy-industry feedstock, which together comprise roughly 15% of global energy consumption, the hydrogen route appears the decarbonization option of choice – a material opportunity. This cost trajectory can be attributed mainly to scale-up that positively impacts the three main cost drivers:

· A significant fall in the cost of producing low-carbon and renewable hydrogen.

· Lower distribution and refuelling costs thanks to higher load utilisation and scale effect on infrastructure utilisation.

· A dramatic drop in the cost of components for end-use equipment from scaling up of manufacturing.

The report debunks the myth that a hydrogen economy is unattainable and demonstrates that the possibility of a clean energy future in which hydrogen plays a major role may well be closer than we think.

The conditions and timing are right
The conditions and timing are rightImage: The Hydrogen Council – Path to Hydrogen Competitiveness report

Investing in hydrogen now for a clean-energy future

To deliver on this opportunity, policy-makers need to help create the right market conditions. Governments in key geographies will need to put in place supporting policies, and investment support of around $70 billion will be needed from various sources over the next decade in order to scale up and achieve hydrogen cost-competitiveness. While this figure is sizeable, it accounts for less than 5% of annual global spending on energy. For comparison, global yearly spending on energy amounts to $1.85 trillion, while subsidies provided to renewables in Germany totalled roughly $30 billion in 2019 alone.

The momentum in the hydrogen sector is strong. Deployments, strategies, alliances and technology developments are progressing in wider geographies and sectors. Still, some key high-potential projects are yet to take off. Similarly, while some measures and supporting financing tools are in place, many of them are lacking in terms of scope and impact to firmly bring the sector to scale. In the last year, the industry has been establishing partnerships with a clear commitment to scale up. Through the Hydrogen Council, we have – for example – partnered with the European Investment Bank to identify the right innovative financing schemes, hosted industry leaders and members of the investment community at an Investor Day at the G20 Summit in Japan, and brought investors onboard with a new Investor Group – all steps in defining and implementing how to accelerate major investment in large-scale commercialisation of hydrogen solutions across industries worldwide.

2020 could indeed mark the beginning of a new era for clean energy. If we step up investments in hydrogen technologies and succeed in developing the right policy framework to turn hydrogen into a major part of our global energy system, hydrogen can help us lower our emissions while significantly improving energy security and resilience. If we are to collectively reach our global climate goals and reap the economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen, now is the time to act.

source: World Economic Forum

Belfius becomes the first major bank in Belgium to be certified CO2-Neutral®

Partnering with CO2logic, Belfius also helps businesses and Belgian local authorities to become carbon-neutral 

Belfius has become the very first big Belgian bank to be awarded the CO2 Neutral® certification label, validated by Vinçotte and issued by CO2logic, a Belgian specialist advisory organisation in climate-related projects which enjoys international recognition. Through the ‘CO2 Impact Loan’, Belfius also aims to help businesses and local authorities in Belgium to become carbon-neutral by providing advice and setting specific borrowing conditions. In doing so, they will become more economical with the energy they use, whatever their commitments, maturity and objectives. This is how Belfius is now emphasising its intention to work towards achieving a sustainable environment, both for the organisations themselves and for their employees and customers. 

Belfius already makes a major effort each year to reduce its direct impact on the environment and climate. In fact since 2012, Belfius’s carbon footprint has been reduced by no less than 21%. By becoming involved in a highly ambitious carbon-reduction programme, combined with the offsetting of its residual emissions, Belfius is ramping its commitment up a gear in conjunction with CO2logic. And as a reward for these efforts, Belfius has now become the very first big bank in Belgium to be awarded CO2-Neutral certification by CO2logic. Residual emissions are offset by climate projects certified by Gold Standard, Verified Carbon Standard, Plan Vivo or UNFCCC, the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change. 

Jos Clijsters (Chairman of the Board of Directors of Belfius Bank & Insurance): “Through this ambitious programme, we are setting the right example to our own staff, as well as to our customers – and in doing so we are also showing the way to Belgian businesses. Working with CO2logic, we have identified all of our CO2 emissions. These include the energy consumed by our buildings and by our staff’s journeys to and from work. We have also made reductions in waste and the consumption of paper, as well as having a more environmentally friendly fleet of vehicles. A comprehensive analysis, in fact. We offset our residual emissions of CO2 directly via accredited projects that benefit the climate, both in Belgium and abroad. We are very proud of this recognition, but we will certainly not be resting on our laurels. As a result, Belfius intends to stop supporting certain unsustainable activities. This is the only credible way of generating long-term value for the Belgian community.” 

Antoine Geerinckx (CEO CO2logic): “CO2 Neutral certification identifies businesses that are taking responsibility for their climate impact so as to avoid passing on its associated cost to the community and to future generations. We are also very pleased to have been able, with Belfius, to set an additional benchmark in this direction, and to be able to facilitate and support investments aimed at carbon-neutrality in order to respond to the climate emergency and speed up energy transition.” 

Dirk Gyselinck (member of the management board of Belfius Bank): With the CO2 Impact Loan, we support companies and local authorities from A to Z in their efforts to reduce their CO2 emissions, whatever their commitments, their maturity and their ambitions. Thanks to a quick scan, we detect and identify their needs. We offer our clients a truly global approach, ranging from the reflection work to describing and realizing their climate objectives, and providing the most appropriate financing solutions. Belfius thereby confirms its desire to fully support initiatives that have a positive impact on the environment and on society. 

About CO2logic CO2logic specialises in climate-related projects. The organisation enjoy international recognition and works in line with the strictest standards and methodologies. Its processes for achieving CO2-neutrality are validated by the external independent auditor, Vinçotte. The CO2 Neutral® label is the first CO2- neutrality standard based on the PAS2060 standard to gain international recognition. More information on co2logic.com

About the CO2 Impact Loan Through its ‘CO2 Impact Loan’, working via consultancy services and specific borrowing conditions, Belfius is helping organisations to translate their climate-related aims into practical long-term targets. Working with CO2logic, a pathway is defined to enable businesses and local authorities to gradually become 100% carbon-neutral, as well as more economical with the energy they use. As a player in the energy transition process, Belfius already had various programmes and solutions in place designed to support its customers with their energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. 

About Belfius Bank & Insurance Belfius is an integrated bank and insurance company, firmly established at a local level. It operates its commercial business in 3 key areas in Belgium: Retail, Commercial & Private Banking and Wealth Management customers; financial services to customers in the public, social and business sector; and, finally, insurance. With experience stretching back 150 years in the public sector, Belfius has always positioned itself as the preferred partner of public and social sector customers, as well as the many SMEs and midcorps in Belgium. Belfius offers its customers a comprehensive and integrated range of banking and insurance products and services. More information on belfius.be

Media contacts 

Belfius Bank & Insurance Ulrike Pommée, Head of Media Relations:

+ 32 2 222 02 57, ulrike.pommee@belfius.be or press@belfius.be 

CO2logic Eric Dierckx, Partners & project director CO2logic,

+32 477 39 44 97, eric@co2logic.com

ION’s CO2-Neutral building site

ION, together with weather forecaster Jill Peeters and minister Bart Tommelein call for as many construction projects as possible to build in a climate-neutral manner.

Monday 26 November 2018- Building a large industrial site of 11,597m2 without any impact on the climate? It seems impossible, but it is exactly what they have done with the construction of Waregem Business Park. It is the first industrial site in our country that is build in a CO2-Neutral way. This was possible thanks to, among other things, heavy efforts in terms of materials selection and energy consumption. Even the exhaust fumes from the trucks entering and leaving the site were compensated by investing in a special climate project in Uganda. In total, no less than 16 579 tonnes of CO2 have been neutralised. It is project developer ION who can claim this honour and immediately calls for more construction projects in our country to be built this way. We would be able to avoid +- 13 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, which is gigantic if that would happen. Weather forecaster and climate expert Jill Peeters and Flemish Minister of Energy Bart Tommelein support this call and consider the Waregem site as a exemplary project.

A 35% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030: that is the aim for Belgium set by Europe. An enormous challenge to which everyone has to contribute, not least the business world. In recent months, the real estate sector has already made a good start with the launch of the first fully climate-neutral business site in our country. It concerns the ‘Waregem Business Park’, an industrial site of almost 11 600 m2, or the size of almost 2 football fields.

CO2 reduction

The unique project is a collaboration between project developer ION and CO2logic, which specialises in calculating, reducing and compensating CO2 emissions. This team started by meticulously calculating how much carbon dioxide would be emitted in total for the construction of the business park. That proved to be exactly 16 579 tonnes, comparable to the annual emissions of 1 550 Belgian households, or over 99 million kilometers driven by car. They then worked out how they could avoid greenhouse gas emissions on the one hand and compensate them efficiently on the other.

In the end, local contractors and supplies were called in, which led to a significant reduction in truck emissions and ION kept a close eye on energy consumption during construction. In addition,  the project developer made use of numerous climate-friendly building techniques. Just think of geothermics, climate ceilings, green roofs, rain water buffering, extra sunproof glass and LED lighting.

“We did this project with strong beliefs. Climate-neutral construction is a social obligation for us. It is the way in which we can effectively make our contribution to the climate challenges that await us all. As a company, we really want to set an example for the entire sector.”

Davy Demuynck, Managing partner ION

African cookstoves

What makes the initiative even more remarkable, is that it also intervened on emissions that could not be reduced by climate-friendly building materials, or other sustainable techniques. These ‘unavoidable’ emissions were compensated through financial support for certified climate projects in Africa, which help the local population to reduce their CO2 emissions. ION supported as such, the ‘Saving Trees’ project in Uganda, which provides for the distribution of more efficient ovens to the local population.

“Today, no less than 3 billion people still cook on an open fire. 93% of the population in Uganda burns wood or charcoal to make food every day. Large quantities of CO2 are pumped into the air and large areas of forest disappear. With the ‘Saving Trees’ project we have found a solution that both protects forests, as improves the quality of life of the local population. It concerns efficient ovens, which require only have of the wood or charcoal families use and ensure that they emit an average of 2 tons less CO2 per family per year.”

Antoine Geerincks, Managing director CO2logic

Public invitation to the industry

The project in Waregem is the first to be built completely CO2-neutral, but it doesn’t stop there, if it depends on ION. The company, together with climate expert and forecaster Jill Peeters, is calling for as many construction projects as possible to be built in a CO2-neutral way. If every real estate project in our country were to be built this way, it would save +/- 13 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

“Seven out of ten Belgian companies still don’t know how big their impact is on our climate today, let alone that they would be willing or be able to do something about it. That has to improve. The project in Waregem shows that it is possible to tackle the climate disruption, and that it also benefits you as an entrepreneur. The knowledge about sustainable entrepreneurship is available, we now only have to have the common sense and energy to get started.”

Jill Peeters, forecaster and founder of Climate without Borders

Flemish Minister of Energy Bart Tommelein, also supports the proposal and emphasises that building the climate-neutral way can take our country a long way in the fight against global warming.

“In fact, all companies should build like this. Some companies need a little push. Others, like ION, do it on their own. I can only applaud them. If all companies take their responsibility, we would be a big step closer to meeting the climate targets.”

Bart Tommelein, Flemish Minister of Energy

ION received the CO2-Neutral® label for the construction of the new business site in Waregem. This was developed by CO2logic, in collaboration with the independent international certification body Vinçotte, based on the internationally recognised standard.

Proximus reaches its goal to become climate neutral

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  • Having reduced its carbon footprint by more than 70% between 2007 and 2015, Proximus has reached its objective to become a climate neutral company in 2016.
  • The “CO2 Neutral” label recognizes the significant efforts made by Proximus to reduce CO2emissions directly linked to its activities (vehicle fleet, heating in buildings, data centers, fixed and mobile networks) but also to reduce indirect emissions, particularly the home-work commute, business travel, and the energy consumption of decoders and modems.
  • The results are impressive: in six years, Proximus managed to reduce its energy consumption by 22% (-3% in 2016) and its carbon emissions by 32% (-4% in 2016).
  • And it doesn’t stop there: Proximus aims to reduce its CO2 emissions by an additional 30% by 2025, and to reduce its indirect emissions by 50% by 2040, in particular by raising awareness among customers and suppliers.
  • At the same time, Proximus will continue to offset its remaining emissions by supporting international climate projects, especially in Africa.

Alignment with scientific objectives

On a global scale, 15 of the 16 hottest years on record were in the 21st century. Today, the effects of global warming are clearly being felt in countries throughout the world. As a socially responsible company, Proximus plays an active role in the fight against climate change and wants to set an example in this area by aligning its objectives with the objectives fixed by scientists at the Paris COP21 in 2015 to keep global temperature rise below 2°C. Thanks to Proximus’ efforts over the past decade to reduce its environmental impact, it has become one of the first BEL 20 companies to be recognized as climate neutral. Proximus is also the only Belgian company to receive the CDP Climate Leadership Award which recognizes initiatives taken by listed companies to reduce their CO2 emissions, thereby limiting their impact on climate change. Last October, Proximus received this award for the fourth consecutive year.

Very encouraging results

At Proximus, sustainability is not new. Since 2007, the company has reduced its CO2emissions for its Belgian activities by more than 70%. How? Notably, by using 100% green electricity; by improving the energy efficiency of its fixed and mobile networks; by reducing electricity consumption in its data centers; by renewing heating installations in its buildings; by switching to a greener vehicle fleet; and by encouraging the use of public transport and bikes for the employee commute.

These different measures, which are described in detail in the new Proximus CSR Report for 2016, have led to some impressive results:

  • Carbon emissions of the Proximus Group have fallen by 32% in six years.
  • Energy consumption of the Proximus Group has fallen by 22% in six years.
  • Fuel consumption per vehicle has fallen by 22% in 9 years.
  • 99.6% of company vehicles currently report CO2 emissions under 145 g CO2/km, compared to 56% in 2010.
  • 47% of employees who have a company car have chosen to replace it with public transport for the home-work commute.
  • 88% of Proximus waste was recycled in 2016 (compared with 85% in 2015).
  • Thanks to the new V5 and V5 Compact decoders, which consume more than 50% less energy than their predecessors, the average consumption of all TV decoders used by Proximus customers has fallen by 33% in the past three years.

Further reducing our environmental impact

Now that we have a good momentum going, there’s no stopping us. Proximus is determined to continue and even intensify its efforts to protect the environment in order to achieve an additional 30% reduction of its CO2 emissions by 2025.

In the longer term, Proximus also wants to exert more influence on the reduction of indirect emissions resulting from its activities, in order to reduce these emissions by 50% by 2040. In practice, this means that Proximus will have to continue its efforts to reduce waste reduction, purchase sustainable goods and services, and reduce the ecological footprint of Proximus devices supplied to customers.

Le Pain Quotidien UK Becomes Carbon Neutral

At Le Pain Quotidien, they believe that our environment is everything. Their mission to serve fresh, wholesome food means that they consider the impact they have on the environment in nearly every aspect of their business. In this vein, we are thrilled to announce that the UK restaurants of Le Pain Quotidien have been certified carbon neutral by the climate advisory organisation CO2logic – an exciting step for Le Pain Quotidien in their ongoing sustainability journey.

What does it mean to be carbon neutral? To become certified carbon neutral, Le Pain Quotidien calculated their carbon emissions, made efforts to bring them to as low a level as possible, and then offset those that are unavoidable by investing a carbon-reducing project elsewhere.

How did they achieve carbon neutrality? After calculating their own carbon emissions, one of the major actions they took to reduce them was retrofitting all lighting in their restaurants with LED lights, a simple step that allowed them to cut down on light-energy consumption by an astounding 80%. They have taken this retrofit initiative nationwide and are building all new restaurants with LED lighting. Le Pain Quotidien also made strides in using more efficient refrigeration, cooking and cooling operations to make their carbon footprint as small as possible.

Their rustic décor is made with recycled wood material which means more trees and less wastage. They also focusing on their suppliers as they are taking a big part of their journey: where they can they schedule night deliveries to reducing transport miles and congestion. They are proud to say that their selected glass/dishwasher supplier is the first in the UK to achieve Carbon Footprint certification.

The coffee cups and bags are made of compostable material and they are operating with a strict wastage recycling procedure in each restaurant.

Of course, restaurant operations still create some carbon emissions. That’s where the offset comes in – they are supporting our Gold Standard-certified project in Uganda that distributes efficient cooking stoves to reduce wood consumption. This helps to lower deforestation and reduce toxic fumes, while still enabling local families to have effective and functional cooking methods which, of course, at Le Pain Quotidien understand is a fundamental part of a happy life.

They are not stopping here – their goal is to go carbon neutral globally by 2020!

Le Pain Quotidien is incredibly proud to be part of this movement, a sentiment that was perhaps best captured by their global CEO, Vincent Herbert: “we want to be part of the growing community that addresses climate change by reducing our climate impact – and this is just the beginning.” It is just the beginning – from here, they hope to soon expand this carbon neutral program nationwide, and one day, globally.

Spadel receives “CO2 Neutral” label for all its sites

Spadel, a producer of natural mineral water, has received the “CO2 Neutral” label from CO2Logic and Vinçotte for all its sites in Europe. This is a wonderful way of acknowledging a Belgian company, market leader in the Benelux with a strong regional presence in France and in the UK, that remains committed to sustainability and that was named as one of the Top 10 Most Sustainable Companies in Europe by the European Business Awards in 2014.

Sustainability is one of the strategic pillars of Spadel’s business strategy. For this reason, the Belgian market leader for natural mineral water set itself ambitious sustainability goals in 2010: to achieve a 20% carbon footprint reduction by 2015 and to become entirely carbon neutral by 2020. The 1st 2015 goal -20% reduction was achieved, and Spadel can today say with pride that as of the end of 2015, it has become CO2 neutral  across the board, at all branches , production sites and offices across Europe. The CO2 Neutral label has been given today at a workshop organized at the Spadel offices on the implementation of the engagements of the members of the CSR network The Shift regarding the COP21.

The goal of reducing the CO2 footprint by 20% between 2010 and 2015 was achieved for the most part thanks to our own efforts (15%), while the remainder (5%) was gained by using compensation (offsetting). 

Marc du Bois, Spadel Managing Director: “Sustainability is in our DNA. Spadel wants to be a sustainable company in a sustainable world. Gaining the CO2 neutral label underscores the efforts we have been making for years to provide concrete answers for reducing our C02 footprint. This reinforces the choice of Spadel to develop regional quality brands with a low CO2 footprint”. 

The CO2  footprint fell by 15% as result from own achievements, from 211g CO2 per litre to 180g CO2 per litre. Over the five years, this represents a saving of 42,000 tonnes of CO2 , distributed as follows:

1)   22,000 tonnes of CO2 at the complete chain.

The savings are primarily the result of:

  • The weight reduction in PET bottles at all Group sites
  • The use of recycled PET for the Spa and Bru bottles, e.g. in the case of the Spa Reine bottles that have a unique ecological profile thanks to the 50% recycled PET
  • The purchase of Belgian PET, which has 20% less impact compared with the market average.

2)   13,000 tonnes of CO2 reduction refers to measures in the manufacturing sites: energy saving, offices, company cars and so on. This is the result of 

  • rationalised energy use 
  • the implementation of new product lines such as the glass filling line in 2010 with a reduction in energy use of 30%, and the Bru-Chevron heating system for dishwashers
  • the use of renewable energy: green energy in all manufacturing sites; the total renewable energy at a group level represents 37% of the total energy use;
  • the installation of 26,000m² of solar panels on the Spa Monopole roof (the largest in Wallonia) and 2,450m² at Bru-Chevron;

3)   Finally, a 7000-tonne CO2 reduction in the ‘Distribution’ point, specifically in transport and the entire logistics chain through the project ‘Lean & Green’. 

C02 compensation tool
Despite the many efforts in recent years, some residual emissions that Spadel is unable to reduce immediately have remained in the industrial sites. To prevent the residual CO2 emissions from having an impact on the climate, Spadel has made the decision to compensate its operational activities by using Gold Standard-certified climate projects. In doing so, Spadel will be assisted by CO2logic, an independent climate consultancy. The efforts made by Spadel in terms of the environment will also be verified by the independent agency, Vinçotte. The project selected is the “Saving Trees” climate project in Uganda (www.savingtrees.org).

Antoine Geerinckx, CO2Logic Managing Founder, said “Gaining the C02 neutral label is a clear signal, demonstrating Spadel’s commitment to continuing their pioneering role in terms of sustainability. Spadel is already taking all the steps that most companies will be obliged to take over the next few years in an effort to stay below a heat increase of 2°C”.

Spadel’s sustainability strategy
Sustainability is one of Spadel’s strategic pillars. To further strengthen our leading position in this field, we have set out ambitious sustainability goals across three pillars:

  • ‘Nature’s best close to you’ based on a proactive policy on protecting natural sources and on product innovation, aiming towards natural quality in all our products.
  •  ‘Our footprint’, working as hard as possible towards reducing both our carbon and our water footprint.
  • ‘People & Society’, playing an important social and societal role, both internally and externally.

Climate Change Will Disrupt Oceans, Causing Chaos Says U.N.

September 25, 2019—Today, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading body of climate scientists, released the summary for policymakers of its Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (the cryosphere refers to areas containing frozen water, such as glaciers and snowcapped mountains). More than 100 scientists from 30 countries examined thousands of peer-reviewed studies to assess the impacts of climate change on the world’s oceans, as well as its coastal, polar, and mountain regions. Their conclusions were grim.

Global warming of 1 degree Celsius has already taken place, and the impacts are already being felt: rising sea levels, disappearing glaciers, more extreme weather, marine heatwaves…” noted EESI Executive Director Carol Werner. “Already severe, these impacts will only get worse as we continue to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

Climate impacts will severely disrupt communities throughout the world. Rising sea levels will endanger coastal cities and small island nations, and likely force millions to migrate further inland. The IPCC expects sea levels to rise between 1.28 and 2.8 feet by 2100, and flood damages are projected to increase 100- or even 1,000-fold. Disappearing mountain glaciers in Asia and South America will leave hundreds of millions without reliable sources of water for drinking and farming during the dry season. Acidification, caused by the higher levels of atmospheric carbon seeping into oceans, is harming marine ecosystems, including zooplankton which form the basis of the food chain. Marine heatwaves are contributing to the creation of dead zones—vast oxygen-depleted areas devoid of fish. Melting permafrost in Arctic regions could unleash billions of tons of additional carbon, creating a vicious feedback loop.

Most nations have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Paris Climate Agreement, which calls for global warming to remain significantly below 2 degrees Celsius. But even if all of their pledges are kept, global temperatures are expected to rise more than 3 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

“A 3-degree rise in global temperatures would be absolutely devastating,” says Carol Werner. “World leaders meeting in New York for the U.N. Global Assembly must recognize their responsibilities as leaders at this critical point in time and commit to action that will really make a difference.”

source: www.EESI.org

25th United Nations Climate Change conference (COP 25): ‘Africa’s future depends on solidarity’ Leaders and development partners rally around climate change goals

Speakers called for a united front to tackle the challenges of climate change in Africa

MADRID, Spain, December 12, 2019/ — There was standing room only as ministers, diplomats, activists and journalists gathered at the IFEMA conference centre in Madrid to mark Africa Day at the COP 25 climate meeting.

Speakers called for a united front to tackle the challenges of climate change in Africa.

In the opening statement for Africa Day on Tuesday, Yasmin Fouad, Egypt’s Minister of Environmental Affairs, on behalf of the African Union, said: “We have, and will continue to engage and to seek landing grounds on the outstanding issues. But we must flag our concern at the apparent reluctance by our interlocutors to engage on issues of priority to developing countries, as evidenced by the large number of such issues which have simply been pushed from session to session without any progress.”

Africa contributes the least to global warming emissions yet is the continent most vulnerable to climate change, as witnessed by devastating natural disasters recently. Africa Day has been held at the conference every year since COP 17 in 2011 to rally support for the continent’s cause.

“The climate disaster issues confronting the continent demand a predictable and unified response,” said UN ASG Mohamed Beavogui, Director General of African Risk Capacity, an agency of the African Union (www.AU.int) that helps governments respond to natural disasters.

“Africa needs to move towards market-based innovative financing models to achieve a strong, united, resilient and globally influential continent. The future of Africa depends on solidarity.”

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said the ECA would support African countries to revise their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to attract private sector investments in clean energy.

“The lack of concerted and meaningful global ambition and action to tackle climate change poses an existential threat to African populations,” Songwe said.

The Paris Agreement is the guiding force of current climate negotiations. It calls on nations to curb temperature increases at 2°C by the end of this century, while attempting to contain rises within 1.5°C. The next step is to implement NDCs, which set out national targets under the Paris Agreement.

While African countries outlined bold aspirations to build climate resilient and low-carbon economies in their NDCs, the continent’s position is that it should not be treated the same as developed nations as its carbon emissions constitute a fraction of the world’s big economies.

“The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) remains committed to partnering with other institutions in providing the requisite support to AU member states in reviewing and updating their NDCs,” said Estherine Fotabong, Director of Programmes at AUDA-NEPAD.

Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s Environment Minister and current chair of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, said the Africa Day event should come up with new ideas to enhance the implementation of NDCs in Africa.

Africa is already responding positively to the challenge of climate change, said Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank, citing huge investment interest in renewables at the Bank’s Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg.

“Clearly, we are a continent that has what it takes to create the Africa that we want to see happen. I believe what has been the missing link is the ability to brand right and to act on the market signals,” Nyong said. “We continue to present Africa as a vulnerable case and not as a business case with opportunities. In fact, where we have attempted the latter, the results have been spot-on.”

Chief Fortune Charumbira, Vice President of the Pan-African Parliament, said robust climate legislation was key.

“The world’s response to the challenge has shown that legislation is imperative to cement efforts employed by various stakeholders; from the Paris Agreement to Nationally Determined Contributions,” he said.

Amb. Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission, said climate change affected sectors key to Africa’s socio-economic development, such as agriculture, livestock and fisheries, energy, biodiversity and tourism. She called on African countries to take stock of the Paris Agreement, and its implementation around finance capacity building and technology.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB)