A few of ClientEarth’s staff went to the UN’s annual international climate conference, known as COP23. This is what we learned:
- Kenya passed a Climate Change Act in 2016 that allows citizens to bring a case against anyone, anywhere in the world, over climate change. Kenyans bringing a case also get costs protection, meaning they won’t have to pay expensive legal costs if they lose a case.
- The Netherlands has just created a Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. Creating an overlap like this in a Ministry is a great way to ensure the two issues are seen for what they are: two sides of the same coin.
- Financing for forests is missing major opportunities to tackle climate change. Only about 1% of money for climate mitigation goes to forests, which is totally out of proportion with the potential for forests to cut climate impacts. At the same time, $276 billion is paid to subsidise soy, palm oil, beef and timber in Brazil and Indonesia. These commodities are major causes of deforestation because they are often grown on cleared forest land.
- BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, recognises that climate change has real financial risks for investors and companies. In a COP first, BlackRock, which controls multiple trillions of pounds in assets, told the audience that the company is assessing these risks across their portfolios and will be actively engaging with their investor clients, as well as the companies they invest in, on how they are managing climate risk.
- This won’t be news to some of our readers, but the announcement that 19 countries, led by Canada and the UK, have agreed to phase out coal was one of the most exciting things we heard at COP23. The Powering Past Coal alliance includes France, Denmark and Costa Rica, as well as North American municipalities Ontario, Vancouver and Washington. The 25 members have committed to phase out traditional coal power and support clean energy through their policies and investments, saying coal’s health and environmental costs are too high in a post-Paris Agreement world.