Coalition launches the ‘backlash to the green backlash’, the new UK government’s climate to-do list, and more

By on 09/07/2024 | Updated on 10/07/2024
Image: Photo by Scott Webb/Pexels

Welcome to the Sustainability Monitor. This month, we look at the launch of the new Mission 2025 coalition, an award-winning climate tool from Indonesia, and what the UK’s change in government means for climate policy.

In this edition:

Big businesses back governments to take bolder climate action

Matthew Phillips, who leads Groundswell at Global Optimism

Some of the world’s major companies, investment firms, cities and regions have joined forces to urge national governments to set more ambitious climate targets. The call comes ahead of a February 2025 deadline for nations to deliver their updated climate plans (nationally determined contributions) to the United Nations.

On board: The Mission 2025 coalition includes IKEA, Unilever, Octopus EV, C40 Cities, Green Africa Youth Organisation, We Mean Business Coalition, and many more.  

The group is calling on governments to align their upcoming national climate plans with the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Backing: Mission 2025 is convened by Groundswell, which is a collaboration between the Bezos Earth Fund, Global Optimism and Systems Change Lab.

Christiana Figueres, co-founder of Global Optimism and a key facilitator of the Paris Agreement in 2015, said: “The launch of Mission 2025 today is a clear rebuttal to everyone claiming that moving faster on tackling the climate crisis is too difficult, too unpopular or too expensive. The ambition expressed by the mayors, investors and businesses in this coalition should give governments the confidence to bring their 2025 climate plans in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

The backlash to the backlash: Mission 2025’s aim is to assure political leaders that they have a “wave of support” for bold climate action. In turn, this should enable clear policy from governments so businesses and others can make confident green investment decisions.

Matthew Phillips, who leads Groundswell at Global Optimism, called Mission 2025 “the backlash against the green backlash”.

“There are some vanguard leaders that really still want to fight for this and to send that signal to governments,” he told Global Government Forum.

The coalition’s announcement highlighted a recent report from the Energy Transitions Committee which said that countries could collectively triple climate ambition by COP30 if they reflect existing policy commitments made at COP28 and the latest technological progress in the next round of nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

Private sector alignment: A statement from Mission 2025 said that more than two-thirds of annual revenues ($31 trillion) across the world’s largest companies are now aligned with net zero, citing data from the Net Zero Tracker, a tool that tracks net zero targets set by countries, cities and companies.

Citizen support: Some countries in Europe and elsewhere have rolled back or watered down environmental policies due to fears of political backlash from voters concerned about the associated costs. However, as well as support from businesses, Phillips also noted recent research which found that 77% of people across 23 countries said they support strong climate action by governments. “It’s been seen as a political issue when actually it’s probably an election-winning policy for governments everywhere,” he said. “That’s the message that we need to convey more clearly.”

Action: On the practical work Mission 2025 will do, Phillips said: “It will look like roundtables with ministerial figures; it will look like companies and investors coming out publicly with sectoral policies… it will look like content creators and cultural figures getting behind governments.

“What we’re hoping all this adds up to is positive momentum that there is still a groundswell and a commitment to government taking the highest level of ambition.”

Indonesia’s award-winning climate vulnerability assessment tool

Recipients of the 2024 United Nations Public Service Awards. Image: UN

Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) recently won a United Nations Public Service Award for its Vulnerability Index Data Information System (known as SIDIK). The project won the award in the climate action category and was one of 15 initiatives recognised globally.

SIDIK is expected to play an important role in shaping national climate policies in Indonesia.

Evolution: The system was developed by the MoEF to assist line ministries and local governments in conducting climate change vulnerability and risk assessments, with units of analysis down to the village level. Using data such as socio-economic, demographic, environmental, infrastructure, and climate projections, the system has evolved from an offline spreadsheet to a sophisticated online tool that provides detailed data and information on threats such as floods and droughts, as well as forest and land fires.

Innovation: On what is innovative about the system, Mr Kardono, a forest ecosystem specialist who leads the SIDIK project, told Global Government Forum: “It is a user-friendly web-based tool that maintains scientific principles. One of SIDIK’s advantages is its feature that enables users to add local-specific indicators and data related to vulnerability, including those related to disaster exposure, and adjust the weighting. These data then will be overlaid with climate hazard data to produce climate risk information that can be utilised to develop climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction action plans.”

Use cases: Kardono said the tool can be used for long-term climate planning as well as rapid assessments of vulnerable and at-risk locations. It is being used to help governments take steps to mitigate risks such as crop failure, health issues, and infrastructure damage.

Addressing challenges: The team has faced difficulties with updating data and interoperability, especially as each year around 500 new villages are established or recognised.

“Data updating is still a daunting task because this system is technologically not yet able to communicate with other systems whose data could possibly be used to update vulnerability data,” said Kardono.

To address this challenge, SIDIK is being developed further to use geospatial datasets and to interoperate with systems from other ministries and agencies.

Five upcoming sustainability webinars

Image: Wynn Pointaux/Pixabay

Global Government Forum runs a regular programme of events for sustainability-focused government professionals.

  • How governments can re-imagine humanitarian aid systems to meet global challenges. July 11: Register now
  • Crowding in innovation: how to open up policy development to people-powered insight. October 15: Register now
  • Addressing today’s crises and tomorrow’s catastrophes. October 1: Register now
  • Safeguarding future generations. October 17:  Register now
  • An equitable path to net zero – economic transformations and just transitions. October 29: Register now

UN launches new climate reporting tools

Image: Pixabay / StartupStockPhotos

UN Climate Change has launched new online reporting tools for the Paris Agreement’s Enhanced Transparency Framework (ETF). The ETF is the internationally agreed mechanism to track the progress of national climate plans.

Deadline looming: By December 31, 2024, countries must submit their first Biennial Transparency Reports (BTRs) using standardised formats. These reports, a key part of the ETF, aim to improve global assessments of climate progress and aid countries in developing stronger climate policies and plans.

UN Climate Change said that while the benefits of climate reporting are clear, preparing reports can be challenging for some countries and the new tools aim to address this. Many nations, particularly developing countries, face problems gathering, managing and analysing data and producing reports.

Tools for the job: The new online tools enable countries to compile data and generate reporting tables using agreed formats, supporting a more streamlined and consistent reporting process and enabling aggregation of data.

Learning from data: Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change executive secretary, said: “Biennial Transparency Reports shine a light on progress. Knowledge gained will help countries make informed choices, set ambitious goals, and unlock the finance needed to support them.”

He added: “We should not see reporting as a burden, but as an incredible opportunity – to learn from the data and to design more effective policies, to direct resources where they’re needed most, and to share the successes we’re so proud of. Together we can build capacity, to see and seed more climate action and change lives for the better.”

What does the UK’s new government mean for climate action?

Image: Labour Party

Last week, the Labour Party secured a landmark victory in the UK general election, winning 412 seats out of 650, as the Conservative Party lost power for the first time in 14 years.

Energy mission:  Earlier this year, before the election campaign kicked off, the Labour Party dropped a plan to spend £28bn a year on green investment but in the manifesto, prime minister Keir Starmer pledged to deliver an “age of national renewal”.

He set out five key missions for government. One of these is to “make Britain a clean energy superpower”, with a goal to “cut bills, create jobs and deliver security with cheaper, zero-carbon electricity by 2030”.

Miliband is back: Ed Miliband has been appointed as secretary of state for energy security and net zero, reprising the role he held from 2008 to 2010 under the previous Labour government. A few days into his role, he outlined his priorities, starting with “taking back control of our energy” through Great British Energy, a publicly owned company designed to spur investment in clean energy.

Homes and jobs: Miliband said he will also focus on upgrading Britain’s homes and cutting fuel poverty through the Warm Homes Plan; reforming the energy system; and creating “good jobs in Britain’s industrial heartlands, including a just transition for the industries based in the North Sea”.

He commented: “In line with the prime minister’s approach, this will be a mission-driven department, mobilising citizens, businesses, trade unions, civil society and local government in a national effort, where everyone has a role.”

Message for civil servants: “Having been the secretary of state for energy and climate change from 2008 to 2010, arriving at the department feels like coming home,” Miliband said.

“Back then, I saw first-hand the brilliant work that civil servants do and I know how hard you have worked on behalf of the country in the years since.”

Opportunity: The World Resources Institute called on the new UK Labour government to accelerate the implementation of national climate policies, fulfil international climate finance commitments, and lead on global environmental initiatives, advocating for ambitious climate finance targets and supporting developing countries with comprehensive financial and technical assistance packages.

 “There is a lot to do,” said Edward Davey, head of the World Resources Institute Europe UK Office, noting that the new government will need to release a national climate plan later this year, with revised targets that address the latest findings of the Climate Change Committee.

“At a deeply challenging time for the world – amid a series of interlocking crises spanning conflict, climate, poverty, debt, and nature loss – the UK has an opportunity and important obligation to lead by example and rebuild trust,” he said.

Co-benefits: Professor Peter Cox, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Essex, noted that climate change did not appear prominently in the election campaigns, despite being “one of the biggest outstanding issues for UK governments to deal with”.

“The concept of net zero is firmly based in the most robust climate science,” he said. “I urge the Labour government to use its huge majority to pursue our national net zero targets with renewed vigour. Dealing with climate change is critical but would also have other huge co-benefits for national wellbeing.”

ICYMI: More recent sustainability stories from GGF

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