"Torrents, not trickles": UN climate chief's vision for COP29
The UN's next climate summit will be an "enabling COP," focused on drastically scaling up climate finance and making bold emissions reduction commitments.
Why it matters: Top UN climate official Simon Stiell delivered a speech this morning in Baku, Azerbaijan, envisioning what will happen if the world meets the climate challenge and avoids devastating impacts of climate change.
Zoom in: The speech, delivered at ADA University, counters perceptions in some parts of the climate community that Baku will involve lower stakes and more technical work than COP28 did in Dubai.
- Stiell instead makes clear how much work needs to be done to finance the transition away from fossil fuels to reliable forms of renewables in both industrialized and developing nations.
- "Without far more finance, 2023's climate wins will quickly fizzle away into more empty promises," Stiell said. "We need torrents, not trickles, of climate finance."
- The money message was delivered loudly in Dubai, but countries like the U.S. committed little in the way of public financing, given the political realities in Congress.
- John Podesta, set to take over from John Kerry as top U.S. climate diplomat, will face similar limitations in Baku.
By the numbers: Stiell said multilateral development banks and the private sector need to collectively raise and direct $2.4 trillion annually for climate mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage funding.
- The official outlined what the world would look like in 2030 and 2050 should everything go right: emissions reduced to meet the Paris Agreement targets, a massive financial boost, and a completely transformed energy system.
Reality check: In so doing, he demonstrates what an Olympian task lies ahead, given the current pace of energy transition by companies and governments.
The intrigue: The speech marks a departure in style and rhetoric for Stiell, whose role is to serve as a neutral broker who pushes the UN climate process forward.
- He can nudge countries and set the table for ambitious actions. He is limited in his abilities to advocate for specific policies or implement them.
- The remarks and their high-profile rollout signal Stiell seeks to play a more prominent role on the road to COPs 29 and 30, seeing those two years as a make-or-break period.
What he's saying: "The action we take in the next two years will shape how much climate-driven destruction we can avoid over the next two decades, and far beyond," Stiell said.