Climate Barometer: Confidence high in early ratification of Paris Agreement

Author:
Clare Saxon Ghauri
Reading time: 5 minutes
5 May 2016

Each month we conduct a straw poll of our partner network to take the pulse of climate opinion among the business and government leaders we work with. This is the Climate Barometer.

LONDON: Days after the Paris Agreement signing ceremony, we surveyed our leadership network to find out if they believe the Paris Agreement can be ratified and enter into force before 2020 – and the majority agree it can.

Last month a record number of countries signed the historic Paris Agreement during a high-level ceremony in New York. Following the adoption of the Agreement last December at the global COP21 climate talks, this event was the next key step towards ratification of the treaty.

The demonstration of such widespread political support has led to suggestions that the Agreement may come into force much sooner than 2020 as originally assumed. We surveyed our leadership network to find out what they thought.

Around half of the respondents say they are “confident” and over a third are “very confident” of early entry into force. Just 4% are “not confident”. Four out of ten of these leaders also believe the treaty will “almost certainly” impact decisions they will make in the next 12 months.

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group says of the results: “Agreement is one thing and implementation is another. This month’s Climate Barometer shows the Paris Agreement signing ceremony was a symbolic moment that has boosted the faith of key economic actors in implementation of the climate deal – and well ahead of the 2020 goal at that. This strong level of confidence is also important given that these business and government leaders say the treaty will impact decisions they make within their organizations over the next year.”

CLEAN ECONOMY GROWTH

We also asked our network this month for their thoughts on how close the world is to widespread adoption of electric vehicles, following the high-profile release in late March of Tesla’s eagerly awaited ‘Model 3’ electric car – widely touted as a game-changer for the motor industry.

A quarter of respondents believe we are “very close” to a global electric vehicle (EV) tipping point within the next two to three years, while two thirds said we are still some way off, at more like five to seven years. 

Positive climate developments over the past few months, such as the Tesla launch and the signing ceremony, appear to be impacting wider climate confidence as well.

Some 8% of the respondents this month said they are “confident” efforts to address climate change will keep the rise in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius. Although still a low number, it is an important rise from the 4% of respondents we recorded during COP21. Meanwhile, two-fifths of the respondents are “somewhat confident” in global climate efforts, representing a similar rise in confidence from COP21.

SHIFTING LANDSCAPE

The reasons cited by the network for growing confidence in global climate action include:

  • support from non-state actors for the Paris Agreement such as through The Climate Group’s 100% renewable initiative, RE100
  • strength of the deal itself
  • a “move toward” EVs
  • bankruptcy of Peabody Energy
  • the US-China climate agreement
  • change of leadership in Canada.

One anonymous respondent commented: “The political momentum is still on after the Paris conference and new promising technologies like affordable EVs are coming out of the ‘niche’ segment.”

Reasons for dipping confidence cited in the survey include:

  • lower oil prices
  • a “lack” of climate finance
  • the “slow rate of graduation” from coal in developed countries
  • EU “politics”
  • continued politicization of climate policy in Australia
  • impacts of extreme climate events around the world
  • record-breaking global temperatures already recorded this year.

One respondent noted their reluctance to trust fully in global climate action: “The signing of the treaty was a good sign, but past experience with climate protection shows that governments do not always follow through with their promises. I think there will be an effort, but keeping temperature increase below 2 degrees may not be realistic.”

Looking to the year ahead, Mark Kenber adds: “As the Climate Barometer reminds us, hesitations do remain following the signing ceremony. So now it is critical that all sectors visibly work together to maintain the momentum that was generated by it.

“Key moments in the run up to COP22 at the end of this year include the Climate Action Summit, Clean Energy Ministerial, Climate Week NYC and the Business & Climate Summit in London, where businesses and policymakers will showcase the economic opportunity that was created by Paris. We all need to make the most of these opportunities and this crucial year for climate action.”

by Clare Saxon Ghauri

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