An alliance of the world’s largest pension funds and insurers – responsible for directing more than US$2.4 trillion in investments – committed to carbon-neutral investment portfolios by 2050.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on September 25, 2019

The UN Climate Action Summit has ended and some country’s leaders have had to hurry home as their own leadership implodes.

US President Donald Trump faces an impeachment inquiry by the opposition Democrat party and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson learned that the UK Supreme Court agreed with the Scottish High Court that his decision to suspend the UK Parliament for five weeks was unlawful.

But back to the UN Climate Action Summit. Which country agreed to act and which country did not after 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg‘s angry speech alongside millions of young people taking part in climate strikes across the world.

UN Climate Action Summit highlights

More than 60 nations announced at the UN Climate Action Summit they were working on or exploring plans to reduce greenhouse gas to virtually zero. A similar number said they would definitely boost their climate change ambitions by next year.

An alliance of the world’s largest pension funds and insurers – responsible for directing more than US$2.4 trillion in investments – committed to carbon-neutral investment portfolios by 2050.

Finland said it aims to become the first industrialised nation to absorb more carbon than it emits. The Marshall Islands, Belize, Costa Rica, Denmark, Fiji, Grenada, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Saint Lucia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Vanuatu announced they would meet net-zero emissions by 2050.

Pakistan, which has planted a billion trees in the last five years, pledged to add 10 billion trees in the next five years.

Greece said it would ban single-use plastics by 2021 and stop using the dirtiest coal by 2028.

UN Climate Action Summit disappointments

China, the US, and India, the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gas, promised nothing or very little.

Sixteen young climate activists had to announce a new international petition to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to name climate change as a crisis for children’s rights, targeting Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey.

Greta Thunberg, who had mobilised the global climate strike by school children on the eve of the summit, was mocked and spoken down to by Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the climate change debate is subjecting Australian children to “needless anxiety”.

“It often comes as news to people when I share with them Australia has the highest per capita investment in renewable energy of any country in the world,” Morrison said today.

The next big moment for international climate negotiation is the UN COP25 conference in Santiago, Chile, in December. There, nations will have to hammer out exactly how they plan to meet their pledges, and the countries that still haven’t upgraded their NDCs will face another round of exhortations from activists and each other to curb emissions.

“COP25 … is going to be a key moment where there will be again, a lot of public pressure and public scrutiny and accountability to see whether these countries are stepping up,” said World Resources Institute’s Helen Mountford. “All eyes are going to be very firmly fixed on them over the next couple of months looking at whether they are going to be able to step up and deliver what is needed.”

In the meantime, the US will encourage fossil fuel use and China will build new coal-fired power stations.