UN climate summit successfully activates new stakeholders for the fight against climate change

Press release 2014-10-01 at 11:55

Press release from the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs:

The most important results of the UN Climate Summit held on Tuesday, 23 September, were the extensive discussions on climate change within numerous sectors and operators in society, and the comprehensive understanding of the need for measures to tackle climate change. Organised on the initiative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the summit gathered together in New York over 100 heads of state and some 800 leaders from business, finance and civil society from around the world. The summit served as platform for financing and emissions reduction commitments, which were announced not only by countries, but also by investors, large companies and cities.

“Countries confirmed their commitment to limit global temperature increases to below 2 degrees Celsius and the creation of a new climate change agreement, and offered their support to ensure that the first draft of the new agreement would be prepared at the Conference of the Parties to be held in Lima, Peru, in December. Just as important and encouraging were, however, the messages about changes in private sector funding in the coming years and the voluntary climate change actions of over 2,000 cities — together these efforts show that societies are comprehensively committed to shared climate change objectives,” says Principal Negotiator on Climate Change Harri Laurikka from the Ministry of the Environment.

Finland to phase out coal in power plants by 2025, several funding commitments for the Green Climate Fund

At the summit, Finland declared its intention to end the use of coal in electricity production by 2025.

“Finland´s domestic long-term goal is to become carbon-neutral. In June, our Government submitted for parliamentary approval Finland´s Climate Act. This act aims at putting into law a long-term mitigation target of at least 80% emissions reduction by 2050. Moreover, Finland is heading at phasing out coal in power plants by 2025” said President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö in his speech at the UN headquarters in New York.

One of the central themes of the summit was the financing of climate change measures. In its address, the EU committed 3 billion dollars to mitigation efforts in developing countries between 2014 and 2020. Six countries pledged their contributions, totalling some 2.3 million dollars, to the Green Climate Fund. The most significant new contribution, one billion dollars, was pledged by France. Six other countries also declared their commitment to allocate contributions to the fund by the end of the year. President Niinistö also confirmed Finland’s commitment to participate in the initial capitalisation of the fund. The Green Climate Fund was established in 2010 to fund adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change in developing countries.

Carbon pricing garnered widespread support

The World Bank’s statement on the need to put a worldwide price on carbon garnered widespread support at the summit: a total of 73 countries and over 1,000 companies signalled their support for pricing carbon, among them China, South Africa and Russia. Finland and the majority of Finnish industries also support the statement, according to which pricing carbon is essential for the cost-effective reduction of emissions. The pricing can consist of, for example, trading systems, carbon taxes, or other types of payments that support emission reductions.

“It is an excellent trend that parties that together account for over 50% of the global GDP and greenhouse emissions are supporting emission pricing. In this regard, the EU has once again served as a pioneer. All eyes are now on China to take the next major step,” says Ministerial Adviser Harri Laurikka.

Companies and the financial sector gave their own commitments at the summit regarding, for example, the transfer of investments from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources and measures that aim to stop the loss of natural forests. A coalition of investors, credit ratings agencies, and insurers also launched an initiative to integrate climate risk into the financial system by 2020.

“The summit resulted in a wealth of new initiatives, many of which still require further study. However, I believe that one way or the other, many of these measures will have an impact on the upcoming climate change negotiations in Lima and Paris,” Laurikka summarises.

More information:

Harri Laurikka, Principal Negotiator on Climate Change, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 (0)295 250 156, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi (in Finland)

Jatta Jämsén, Embassy Counsellor, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 (0)295 351 736, firstname.lastname@formin.fi (in New York)