2020 has been a challenging year for Liberia and countries across the world that have grappled with the implications of COVID-19. But the pandemic has not stopped the climate crisis. Our world continues to get hotter. Climate damage is increasing, and it will get much worse without greater action. As we recover from COVID-19, governments are putting in place packages to revive their economies. The decisions we make now will determine whether the planet builds back greener and more resilient for future generations to come.
Last week the world came together for our planet at the Climate Ambition Summit, hosted by the UK, UN and France alongside our partners Italy and Chile. Responding to the calls for action from youth, business, indigenous peoples and civil society, 75 world leaders announced new commitments to climate action, including 45 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) covering 71 countries when including all EU member states; 24 net zero commitments (net zero is reached when greenhouse gas emissions produced are balanced by those removed from the atmosphere, e.g. through tree planting); and 20 adaptation and resilience plans. Liberia’sEnvironmental Protection Agency is already working withministries, development partners, civil society, communities and businessto develop an ambitious NDC that will support sustainable development goals anddemonstrate Liberia’s valuable contribution to global climate action.
Green growth is an economic success story. The UK has demonstrated this – since 1990 we have grown our economy by 75%, whilst cutting emissions by 43%. According to Systemiq, the low carbon economy has the potential to create up to 35 million new jobs by 2030. This was evident at the summit, with businessessuch as Appleannouncing plans to go net zero and carbon neutral.Liberia can benefit from the low carbon transition, helping meet consumer demand for products such as forest-friendly cocoa and sustainable palm oil, reaping the financial rewards such high-value premium goods bring. Liberia can also harness the exceptional biodiversity of the Upper Guinea rainforest, with communities building better livelihoods from the growing eco-tourism market. And there is huge opportunity for Liberia to expand citizens’ access to reliable, affordable energy, through domestic and international investment in renewable energy sources such as solar and hydro-electric power.
As hosts of the next UN Climate Change conference (COP26), taking place in November 2021 in Glasgow, the UKurges all countries to invest in a green recovery that addresses the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and public health.The UK is leading by example: our NDC commits us to reducing emissions by the fastest rate of any major economy, and alongside that, we submitted our Adaptation Communication and set out plans to double our International Climate Finance (ICF) support to £11.6 billion (approximately US$15.7bn) over the next five years. The Prime Minister also announced the UK will end direct support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas.
Our Presidency of COP26 will build consensus and broker an agreement around four key goals. We will facilitate a step change in emissions cuts, with NDCs that put us on track to limit the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees, plotting a course to net zero emissions that is fair to all. We will address the vital issues of adaptation and loss and damage. To protect lives, livelihoods and ecosystems – adaptation and resilience must take centre stage at COP26. We will take steps to ensure that finance will flow to climate action. We must deliver for those that are at the front line of climate change, collectively honouring developed countries’ commitment to mobilise $100 billion per year in climate finance for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries. And we must work with the private sector to unleash the power of capital markets for a green and resilient recovery.
Finally, we will work to craft a new era of international cooperation that urgently accelerates climate action, bringing people together around five key challenges; adaptation and resilience, clean energy, clean transport, finance and nature-based solutions. We call on other countries to join us, and ensure these five key areas are embedded in sustainable and inclusive recovery packages. We want to ensure that the benefits of green recovery are accessible to the countries that are most vulnerable to climate change.
Success in Glasgow next year will depend on all of us. We all have a responsibility to build on the ambition we have seen at the summit and work together to forge a brighter future. Liberia has much to be proud of in her climate action and much to gain from sustainable low carbon development. We are proud to support Liberia, through our UK Aid programmes in forestry and agriculture, and also though our substantial financial contributions to multilateral development banks, such as the World Bank, and funds such as the Green Climate Fund.
Together, we can use the opportunity to build back better and greener to unleash the full potential of our collective action, set the planet on an accelerated trajectory towards meeting our climate change commitments, and contribute to our economic recovery.We must use the time ahead of COP26 to unite behind a fairer, greener and more resilient global economy for both our people and planet. We do not have time to waste.
By British Ambassador, Neil Bradley