COP24: Calling on the World to Act
Three years after the landmark Paris agreement was signed, more than 190 countries are meeting at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, to design the “rulebook” for the global climate deal and figure out the details around how to translate these bold and binding goals into action and results.
For Rocky Mountain Institute managing director Paul Bodnar—one of the architects of the Paris deal under the Obama administration, now attending his ninth climate conference—there are reasons to be optimistic that progress will be made over the next week and beyond in spite of the lack of US federal support for the commitment, as he explained in a recent interview with Colorado Public Radio.
“Every country [besides the United States] is on board because they recognize the existential threat that climate change poses, and they recognize that after decades of trial and error trying to formulate an international agreement that can help countries ratchet down their emissions over the course of this century, we have landed on a structure in the Paris agreement that will work for all countries,” said Paul during the interview.
He continued, “This is a century-long project. We now have a framework for completing this project, and people are empowered to drive it…One US administration will not derail that. It has actually been the best possible test of the integrity of the system, which is what I would encourage others who care about climate change to keep their eyes on: the big picture and what other countries around the world are doing.”
RMI at COP24: What to Watch
RMI’s approach has long harnessed the power of the market to drive the clean energy transformation. So what role can a market-based nonprofit play at a major climate negotiation where the focus is largely policy? Not surprisingly—an important one.
One could argue that for any solution to hold water politically, it also must be economic. In support of this ethos, RMI has a strong presence at COP24 with the goal to advance the thinking and decision-making there by inspiring confidence that climate change can be addressed—strengthening the techno-economic case for doing so and supporting powerful coalitions that have committed to act. Just how? Here are a few examples of what you can expect from RMI over the next few weeks:
1. Supporting US commitments in the absence of federal action
The US-announced withdrawal from the Paris agreement had a galvanizing impact on US nonfederal actors, who have quickly stepped in to fill the gap that was left by Washington, D.C. Nowhere is this more apparent than with America’s Pledge—an initiative of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California Governor Edmund G Brown, Jr. to aggregate and quantify the actions of states, cities, businesses, and other nonnational actors in the United States to drive down their greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. RMI has been serving as co-lead of the America’s Pledge research program.
“Most of the tools at our disposal as a society rest with companies, cities, and states. This is not universally true, but they have a lot of power,” continued Paul in his interview. “The states, cities, and businesses that remain committed to Paris and are driving forward to meet Paris targets account for more than half of the US economy, and more than half of the US population.”
If they were a country, it would be the third largest in the world.
America’s Pledge is deeply involved at COP24 leading discussions on subnational climate action within the United States and how we can push collaboration and innovation further and setting the stage for other diverse actors to follow—bringing us all closer to our climate goals. Look for RMI’s America’s Pledge coordinator, Carla Frisch, at the America’s Pledge booth, as well as engaged in several affiliate events.
2. Advancing discussion on how intelligent investment and new finance models can advance clean energy at a profit, not a cost
The Global Climate Finance team will be in attendance at COP24 this week, meeting with various partners to discuss the concept and explore implementation options for a new proposed climate finance framework.
RMI’s new report, Reinventing Climate Finance: Four Levers to Drive Capital Stock Transformation, proposes a new, integrated way to think about how climate finance can drive the achievement of long-term climate objectives.
Currently, progress on climate finance is measured based solely on “clean” and “dirty” finance flows. Just as annual greenhouse gas emissions contribute marginally to atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, annual finance flows only contribute incrementally to the composition of the economy’s capital stock—the long-lived physical assets responsible for the bulk of global emissions. In this report, RMI proposes a more comprehensive framework to position climate finance to drive capital stock transformation, and offers four levers that, when pulled, can expand the set of solutions available to policymakers and investors to drive deep emissions reductions in support of the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Additionally, while at COP24, the team will be advancing discussion on the coal capital transition during a presentation at the Powering Past Coal Alliance event at the UK Pavilion December 13, sharing key findings from RMI’s seminal report released this fall which details approaches that can help ease capital destruction for coal asset owners and their shareholders while offering policymakers a clearer path toward transitioning the power sector onto a below 2 degree C pathway.
3. Supporting clean energy access in underserved regions and economies
Through a series of meetings, RMI’s Climate Finance Team aims to lay the groundwork of the Climate Finance Access Service, which could substantially improve the capacity of low-income countries to unlock funding for green investment. The initiative would deploy a network of trained, independent climate finance investment professionals into least-developed countries, small island developing states, and African countries to help secure finance for these countries’ priority projects pursuant to Paris Agreement commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Also, RMI’s Sustainable Energy for Economic Development (SEED) team plans to release a report: Minigrids in the Money: Six Ways to Reduce Minigrid Costs by 60% for Rural Electrification. The forthcoming report aims to ensure proper consideration of the most effective approaches for sub-Saharan Africa and other developing regions in providing power to millions who are underserved without centralized infrastructure.
4. Galvanizing action to address the global cooling threat
Perhaps you’ve read about the Global Cooling Prize in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, or CNN. That’s because this new innovation challenge launched by a global coalition including RMI, Conservation X Labs, AEEE, and CEPT University with the support of major donors including the Argosy Foundation and TomKat Foundation, among others, has attracted a lot of attention thanks to a very bold goal. The Prize, launched November 12 in India, aims to develop a climate-friendly residential cooling solution that can meet growing demand without leading to runaway climate change. Specifically, the solution sought is a breakthrough residential air conditioning technology that has 5x less climate impact with the potential to mitigate up to 0.5 degrees C of global warming by 2100.
Iain Campbell, an RMI senior fellow, will be on the ground at COP24 speaking with policymakers and innovators to seek qualified applicants and fostering additional partnerships to join the global coalition actively seeking a breakthrough solution to provide cooling for all, without warming the planet.
Like you, we’ll be following what’s happening at COP24 closely. Here’s a few ways you can join us to stay up to date on key developments:
- Follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) where RMI staff will be live tweeting and posting at #COP24. Tag or direct-message our experts with any questions or comments you may have.
- Check our blog, where we’ll be posting special interviews from staff on the ground at the event.
- Join us December 13, 2–3 p.m. ET for a live webcast with RMI CEO Jules Kortenhorst and RMI principal Leia Guccione, who will share insights as COP24 winds down on key developments, implications for the energy transition, and what is necessary to move us more quickly down the path toward a clean energy future.
View details and RSVP here
We hope to see you there.