Summary | One Planet Commitments: Putting the Paris Agreement into Action

On September 26th 2018, the evening of the 2nd One Planet Summit in New York City, the Center on Global Economic Governance at SIPA convened a panel of policymakers and experts engaged in important work on global climate action for a discussion titled “One Planet Commitments: Putting the Paris Agreement into Action,” where they discussed progress made since the Paris Agreement and the way forward.

The Paris Agreement was indeed a diplomatic success that led to countries committing to a collective goal of limiting change in temperature worldwide. Brune Poirson, Secretary of State to the Minister of Ecological and Inclusive Transition in France stated that the fundamental idea behind convening the 2nd One Planet Summit in New York was to move a step further from commitment and towards accountability. Minister Poirson pointed to the important role of green finance in ensuring that investors make decisions based not solely on financial considerations but also social and environmental considerations. Karin Finkelston, Vice President of Partnerships, Communication, and Outreach at the International Finance Corporation, echoed this thought.

Ms. Finkelston stated that national governments, by implementing sector-specific policy reforms, can create environments conducive to sustainable private investment. She observed that many emerging market countries are committed to climate action under the Paris Agreement but face capacity constraints in implementation. Joseph Stiglitz, 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences and University Professor at Columbia University, concurred saying that it is imperative that governments create and regulate the environment in which the private sector will function in the green economy. He stressed upon the importance of the recognition that this, being an existential threat for the planet, is also a moral issue for finance. Referring to French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent speech at the UNGA where he stated that France would refuse to sign commercial agreements with powers that do not respect the Paris Agreement, Scott Barrett, Lenfest-Earth Institute Professor of Natural Resource Economics at Columbia SIPA, spoke of the strategic value in linking cooperation on trade to cooperation on climate. He stated that this linkage can help further enforcement of commitments on climate if undertaken at a multilateral level as opposed to being imposed unilaterally by individual countries.

Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, spoke of the real economy transition stating that there is a need for greater transparency in the process and a shifting of the discussion from the global level to individual countries and cities. She observed that the safety net of the Paris Agreement was comprised of non-state actors and added that the conversation, in addition to focusing on climate change effects, also needs to include solutions. Bertrand Badré, CEO and founder of Blue like an Orange Sustainable Capital, stressed upon the need to move from seeking incremental change, as is the current global strategy, to developing a holistic perspective on climate action. Climate change is no longer a threat to our future. It is, as we can increasingly observe at a global scale, a part of our present reality. There is, hence, an urgent need to educate the entire ecosystem to the urgency of climate action and for a systemic and systematic change in our approach to it.

-Aswathi Kizhekalam Puthenveettil, SIPA ‘19