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UN Climate Change Boosts Innovation for Climate Action

UN Report Calls for Multilevel Approach to Advance SDGs, Climate Action in Synergy


UN Climate Change News, 24 March – Sustainability experts from around the world are gathering virtually from 25 to 26 March to celebrate the fifth SDG Global Festival of Action. Powered by the UN SDG Action Campaign, the Festival aims to find new ways to inspire, mobilize and connect people and organizations to act on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Under the topic #TurningItAround for Climate action, UN Climate Change is hosting a multi-stakeholder dialogue on 26 March with leading initiatives and solution providers entitled “An expanded innovation space for climate action”.

The objective of this session is to explore systemic approaches to innovation that can enable and expedite transformative climate actions mainstreamed in SDG action, while supporting countries to meet the Paris Agreement goals. UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, will speak at the session on 26 March (at 14:00 CET), where she will call for urgent climate action, essential to reaching the SDG goals. (Register here to follow the discussion).

The pressing case for innovation to tackle climate change

The recent initial NDC Synthesis Report measuring the combined impact of national climate action plans under the Paris Agreement shows that climate plans submitted so far by countries are very far from required levels of climate ambition. While the UN Climate Change process calls for increased ambition and climate innovation, there is a need for governments to identify, select and enable those solutions that are highly impactful, scalable, compatible, trustful and scientifically sound. 

Given the scale and urgency of emission reduction required, the international community needs to radically and swiftly reverse the current greenhouse gas-intensive growth pattern and create pathways toward sustainability. The need for transformative and collaborative innovation to drive the world towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions is more important than ever.

According to UN and other experts, artificial intelligence and digital technology could bring a 10-20% reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Disruptive climate solutions for technology, policy, finance, business models, leadership and capacity building are key to accelerate low-emission and climate-resilient development.

UN Climate Change working with partners to unlock innovation potential

In order to amplify this potential, UN Climate Change is working with partners to provide an expanded innovation space for climate action: “The UN Climate Change Innovation Hub” (the Hub). The Hub will promote disruptive, SDG-integrated innovations compatible with the goal of limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius through a cluster of climate actors using a collaborative platform for all to exchange experience, learn from one another, and track, report and recognize action. 

The Hub will become operational and be launched at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. It will aim to gauge data and scan “disruptive” trends in technologies, business models and values that will help Parties achieve their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies (LT-LEDS). It will do so by helping them to identify and implement 1.5 degree-aligned climate solutions by using a first-of-its kind package of criteria and standards for impact assessment through a unique 1.5 degree, just transition, global sustainability, SDG, lens. The project will: 

a) provide a digital collaboration platform (a database, Collaboration and Market Place for solution providers, beneficiaries and enablers) launched at a Pavilion set up at COP26; 

b) establish and support a group of experts on definition of demand for climate solutions and leverage synergies with the important engagement work of the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action. Integrated, this could serve to further amplify their work on all fronts and help enhance ambition with respect to the NDCs; 

c) develop a world-class digitalization tool and standards for impact assessment of new disruptive mitigation/adaptation/finance artificial technologies and; 

d) establish an UN Climate Change observatory centre for needs-based and 1.5 degree-compatible solutions that can provide tailor-made feedback to governments, sub-nationals and non-state actors.

The project will help build momentum for more action, as innovation is a topic that most stakeholders and governments support and provides an opportunity to expand the space of innovation for climate. This expansion is first expected to complement the current focus on reducing the carbon footprint of existing products with another focus on solutions that look for alternative products and alternative value chains to satisfy the world’s core needs. This requires mainstreaming climate action into SDG action.

The second dimension of the expansion consists of targeting clusters of enabling entities as solution providers - including policy makers, financiers, technology providers and consumers - delivering integrated, low energy demand solutions compatible with the 1.5 degree goal, innovating on policy, financial instrument, technology and consumption behaviour. Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming Hub under the hashtag #UNFCCCInnovationHuB.