July 2019    
It’s a wrap: London Climate Action Week 

Dear [firstname,fallback=friend],

Let me start by saying a big thank you to all those who participated in London Climate Action Week (LCAW) 2019. The week brought Londoner's together from across the city's broad spectrum of communities and cultural institutions to engage with climate change, making it a truly distinct global event. LCAW 2019 surpassed all expectations, showing how diverse and expansive the London climate change community is. Having estimated around 30-40 events across the week, we were staggered and delighted to see the tally reach 180 with the final figure still to come.

I’m very proud of the way our E3G team took LCAW 2019 in stride, producing a fantastic selection of events, many with our partner organisations, to bring in a huge number of actors for roundtables, workshops, conferences and more. I'd like to extend a big thank you as well to the talented team at Carter Wong Design for generously producing the London Climate Action Week logo pro bono for all partcipants to use.

My vision for London Climate Action Week is for it to beomce a significant week in the climate diary where world class expertise can convene and accelerate the delivery of solutions to climate change. The Mayor of London has voiced his support to carry on sponsoring this fantastic event. With a joint bid between the UK and Italian governments for COP 26 next year, LCAW 2020 will be an opportunity to showcase London’s unique cluster of climate organisations and work collectively to use the power of London’s global hubs to support a massive scale-up in climate action. Key to this will be engaging the public in new and exciting ways - something we look forward to doing at next year's event.

We will be running a review and legacy process for London Climate Action Week and will be seeking your views for next year. I encourage you to get in touch with George Triggs if you’d like to give direct feedback.

In this weeks newsletter, Robert McGowan reviews our climate diplomacy work at LCAW 2019, and Sonia Dunlop makes sense of the 20 plus finance events and Government Green Finance Strategy launch at the Green Finance Summit. In case you missed London Climate Action Week 2019 and want a sense of the variety of it, visit our homepage to see a collection of all the social media acitivity in one handy roller feed generously provided by Semble UK.

Finally, as we come to a close on this political calendar year I am pleased to share E3G’s 2018 Annual Review. It has been a tremendous year for us and I look forward to celebrating our 15-year anniversary with the launch of our new E3G Strategy later this year.

With best wishes,

Nick Mabey

Claire climate diplomacy event 3 july Blog — 15 July 2019
Climate diplomacy and security at London Climate Action Week

On one level, any discussion of the future of climate diplomacy cannot help but be overshadowed by a history of failure. From the beginning of the story of the international community’s response to the greenhouse effect, to its current chapter, the number of parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen, relentlessly.

At the first gathering of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, when nations committed to stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations, the number sat at 355ppm. This year, after 24 Conferences of the Parties (COPs), it hit 415ppm, the highest level in 14 million years. Years of climate diplomacy within the UNFCCC process delivered the Paris Agreement in 2015, which is the only global agreement and best hope we’ve got to collectively reduce those concentrations.

And yet emissions still keep rising. As E3G’s Claire Healy said at the beginning of our Chatham House event during the first-ever London Climate Action Week, “these are the facts, so evidently we need to come up with new models of climate diplomacy that incorporate all actors from across the economy to strengthen and support implementation of the Paris Agreement and rapidly decarbonize our economies.” In essence, this is the leitmotif of London Climate Action Week.

Encouragingly, there are other facts. The UK’s Special Representative for Climate Change at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Nick Bridge, outlined a few. Starting at home, the UK government has committed to “net-zero” emissions by 2050, the most ambitious legislation of any major economy. It has now effectively secured its bid to host COP26 in partnership with Italy, where the 197 UNFCCC member states who have signed or acceded to the Paris Agreement will submit their next round of pledges to 2030 and longer term decarbonisation strategies. The economics of the climate transition are in a fundamentally different place, with a revolution in technology and the unit-cost of energy driving ambition in places and at speeds never seen before. Developing giants, such as India, have made bold commitments in key areas like solar, wind and combustion engines, as the double- and triple-dividend potential of emissions mitigation sinks in.

Progress on the climate security and resilience agendas seems to have followed a similar path. At an event hosted by the Dutch Ambassador, run by E3G in partnership with the Dutch Embassy, the Clingendael Institute and the Planetary Security Initiative, E3G CEO Nick Mabey recalled writing the first paper on climate change for the UK Ministry of Defence, and a two-page briefing for the FCO’s mission to the first UN Security Council debate on the topic, both in 2007. That same year the European Council called on High Representative Javier Solana to consider the issue, and his report concluded that climate change should be seen as “a threat multiplier which exacerbates existing trends, tensions and instability.”

The decade following, however, saw climate security simmer at the academic fringes of the defence, development and diplomacy communities, with little tangible action from international institutions. But in the last 18 months the UN Security Council’s consideration of the issue has increased in breadth and depth. Successive Planetary Security Conferences have turned a committed community of practice into a launch pad for concrete action – at the policy level and on the ground. The urgency of street protests has created even greater space for the climate crisis to be discussed in terms of the fundamental material threat it presents to livelihoods, while the public order threat presented by air pollution in China and Extinction Rebellion in London have jolted both governments into action. And as argued by General Tom Middendorp (Ret.), Chair of the new International Military Council on Climate and Security, and Dr Amiera Sawas of ActionAid, defence and development actors are progressively more inclined to look towards the root causes of conflict and strife, instead of surface-level (and often, in resource terms, detrimental) interventions.

This emerging tendency, to look past traditional targets and associated obstacles and across all government departments and economic sectors, carries promise for the future of climate diplomacy. The US decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement, as the country’s former Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern noted, has not deterred states and cities as well as non-state actors including businesses and banks, from forging their own paths on climate action. In fact, it may even have helped push climate change and the environment, almost 50 years on from the first, zeitgeist-defining Earth Day of 1970, back on to the very top of Democrat and young Republican political agendas. Meanwhile the stark appeal of Greta Thunberg and school strikers has penetrated high-level national discourses and ignited youth and social movements in countries across the world.

Such power vested in ‘diplomacy from below’ might not always be so productive, however, and throughout London Climate Action Week the spectre of a popular ‘climate resistance’ loomed. Perhaps with this in mind, Chatham House attendees were divided on whether Thunberg and her ilk should really be dubbed “the new climate diplomats”. Additionally the intense scrutiny this advocacy will bring to negotiations makes expectation management and success stories, key to defining Paris, significantly more difficult.

Old challenges of laggards and rogues also reared their heads. On Russia and Brazil, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti (Ret.) and Dr Louise van Schaik of the Clingendael Institute both argued that trade sanctions remain an important tool in the arsenal of EU climate diplomacy. Pete Betts, former Director of International Climate and Energy for the UK government, drew attention to the sheer scale of China’s growing emissions, and argued that leadership from the UK and Europe is only as powerful as its ability to leverage change here, in India and elsewhere.

Audience opinion, polled at the inaugural London Climate Frontiers Forum on Friday 5 July.

This kind of self-reflection on the entanglement of ‘leaders’ with ‘laggards’ was a recurring theme. When asked about the most important venues for climate diplomacy in 2020, the audience at the London Climate Frontiers Forum voted the statement “Diplomacy begins at home” second only to COP26. Militaries’ own emissions and resilient defence and development infrastructure are slowly making their way onto the list of departmental priorities in these fields. Changing financial systems, centred in cities like London, will be central to reifying the real economy opportunities available to developing countries.

And in all of this, the lessons and successes of torch bearers, particularly those facing the greatest challenges and the most vulnerability in the global south, will be crucial to holding moral clout in showing what can be done, and why it is necessary.

As the FCO’s Nick Bridge argued, “In my work, the most powerful lever is always ‘What are you doing yourself? And can you walk the talk?’”

London climate action week kickoff event city hall Blog — 15 July 2019
The City’s green credentials: sustainable finance at London Climate Action Week
by Sonia Dunlop

The City of London became the Green City of London from the 1-8 July during the first-ever London Climate Action Week. With over 20 events across the week on green and sustainable finance, the city showed it can – or could – use its might as a financial services hub to the benefit of the planet.

Indeed, London can arguably say that it is the world capital of institutional efforts to align the financial system with action to combat climate change. The City of London Corporation was instrumental in creating the green finance principles for China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The UK is playing an important role in the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action and its Helsinki Principles. The Bank of England has led the way on addressing systemic climate-related financial risk and the British Standards Institute is leading work on sustainable finance in the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

The UK government used the inaugural London Climate Action week to launch its new Green Finance Strategy. E3G together with Principles for Responsible Investment and the City of London acted as secretariat for the Green Finance Taskforce that preceded it. Many of the measures announced within the Strategy were much needed and very welcome, with a deadline for mandatory climate risk reporting a key highlight. However arguably the Strategy did not amount to a plan for delivering the transformational, systemic change needed in the financial system to get the UK to net zero and climate resilience.

There is often a narrative in sustainable finance that there is a ‘wall of money’ ready and waiting to be invested in sustainable projects if only there were viable projects available. And yet project developers often complain of a lack of finance for green investment opportunities. Each is true in some sense, and one of the conclusions of London Climate Action Week was that London’s extraordinary cluster of different types of climate expertise is well placed to try and find ways for the financial system to do a better job of serving the transformation required in the real economy.

Although London Climate Action Week’s scope was global, there was also much focus on our host city. At E3G’s event on ‘Redefining sustainable infrastructure’, laughs were to be had when our rental ‘Boris bikes’ were cited as a form of distributed, innovative transport infrastructure (although some would argue they should be credited to the previous London Mayor), and the Thames Super Sewer, or Tideway Tunnel, was used as an example of ‘the concrete pourers’ dominance in this debate.

Indeed, 70% of CO2 emissions worldwide emanate from cities in one way or another. And cities are often strapped for cash to make the investments they need. This is part of why the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, based here in London, created its ‘Green Cities’ action plan to help cities across Europe, Central Asia and North Africa build the green infrastructure they need to lower pollution levels and cut carbon.

The events across the week identified, however, that the financial system’s reflex is often to build – new infrastructure, new projects – and yet often what we really need to deliver deep decarbonisation is not to build. We need to apply the waste hierarchy when making decisions of what projects to finance: repair, re-purpose, recycle and only then build new.

What is critical in sustainable finance is also how financial markets respond to climate impacts and ensuring finance for resilience and adaptation as well as mitigation. We often celebrate how reducing costs of renewables and mitigation technologies make the economic case for climate mitigation better. What is often overlooked however is how climate impacts increase the cost of capital for the most vulnerable communities. A solution to this vicious cycle must be found so we do not leave the most climate vulnerable countries and communities behind.

Apparently, Margaret Thatcher was an environmentalist – or so UK Finance Minister John Glen told us at the Green Finance Summit. She was certainly a supporter of the UK’s financial services sector and would hopefully have been pushing for the City of London, London’s financial district, to align its activities and international impacts with the global transition to net zero. This is the challenge for UK green finance – and we look forward to more debate on the ‘how’ at London Climate Action Week 2020.

E3G annual review Report — 5 July 2019
E3G launches 2018 annual review

E3G is an independent climate change think tank accelerating the transition to a climate safe world.

Our 2018 annual review takes a look back at our organisation's highlights and accomplishments this past year. Read through to find out more about what we do and how we are achieving our goal of leading the global transition to climate safe economies and societies.

You can read the full review on Issuu here. Or download the PDF document here.

Featured Showcase

London Climate Action Week
Highlighting London's leading role in taking action on climate change. The first-ever London Climate Action Week was hosted from 1-8 July 2019.
Featured document
 E3G Annual Review 2018