Climate Action Now


for Policymakers


The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) identifies good practice policies, initiatives and actions that could be scaled up and replicated by Parties to realize significant mitigation potential in the pre-2020 period. The SPM focuses on the thematic areas and reflects the outcomes of the associated technical expert meetings that occur under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Table of Contents:

Foreword Introduction Key messages for Policymakers Chapter I Chapter II Chapter III Chapter IV

Climate action now offers every nation on the planet a clear path towards the shared aim of a healthier, more prosperous and more secure future.

By Christiana Figueres United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change


Climate action now offers every nation on the planet a clear path towards the shared aim of a healthier, more prosperous and more secure future. Nations now increasingly understand that economic prosperity, sustainable development and environmental stewardship present an intertwined challenge that must be addressed with coordinated and consistent policies both in and across ministries and nations. Nations all also understand that climate change presents the single biggest threat to the hard won advances the world has made under the Millennium Development Goals and will be a defining factor in the success or failure of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, depending on whether or not we allow the global temperature rise this century to exceed 2 degrees Celsius.

Yet at the heart of this sobering dynamic lies its remarkable solution: the very policies that must deal with climate change also offer the most effective, readily achievable set of responses to reach a prosperous and stable environmentally healthy world for all. In the past two years, this fact has been recognized at every level of government, business and civil society. Under the UN Climate Change Convention governments have led a significant effort during their series of technical expert meetings to identify and scope out the type and form of policies that lead to effective climate action.

That is why I am delighted and honoured to present this Summary for Policymakers, representing as it does the distillation of these efforts and insights from across the globe. This summary, for example, shows how the strong deployment of policies within renewable energy, energy efficiency, transport, land use, carbon capture, use and storage and non-CO2 gases dramatically reduces greenhouse gas emissions at the same time as advancing goals in no less than 15 other areas, including citizens’ quality of life, health and work, lower government spending and higher tax revenues, better energy security and delivery and improved private sector profits. Moreover, these good practice policies, which relate specifically to sectors and areas with a high mitigation potential, can be replicated, tailored and scaled up based on countries’ national circumstances.

This summary also identifies specific actions and avenues of cooperation that countries could pursue to increase their ambition to reduce greenhouse gases. Many of these also speak to the urgency of adaptation and building more resilient countries and communities. This comprehensive vision must also be realized through an unprecedented level of cooperation regionally and internationally and through full engagement with the already massive and ever increasing mobilization of non-state actors in support of and as a supplement to public climate policy. As a result, this summary serves as a straight forward, inspiring go-to-reference providing comprehensive information to assist ministers, advisors and policymakers pursuing climate actions now and into the future.

The world will emerge from Paris in 2015 with a new, universal climate change agreement which articulates a far reaching and long-term vision of a world free from of poverty through the social and economic opportunities created by the transition to a low-emission and climate resilient future. We are at a turning point which sends a loud, clear and serious signal from governments to citizens and the private sector that the transformation of the global economy is inevitable, beneficial and already underway.

Responding to climate change is a generational journey, an effort that must be sustained and increased over decades to come. But the sooner and faster the world acts the greater chance of arriving at the future we all need. This summary can help to elevate the global response now and into the future by setting out options for clear, well-designed and cooperative policies that have been tested and proven to work to the benefit of all people.


Parties have been actively engaging a broad range of stakeholders to encourage climate action and enhance ambition in the pre-2020 period. A prominent forum under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to facilitate this engagement and participation is the in-session technical expert meetings organized under the technical examination process. These technical expert meetings, which began in 2014, provide a platform for Parties to engage international organizations, civil society, subnational authorities, academic institutions and the private sectoron climate change; identify policy options, practices and technologies with high mitigation potential; and support the accelerated implementation of policy options by Parties.

To reflect on the information resulting from the in-session tech nical expert meetings, the SPM draws on the associated technical papers on the mitigation benefits of actions, submissions from Parties and observer organizations, initiatives and options to enhance mitigation ambition identified during discussions, and other relevant information on the implementation of policy options. The aim of this SPM is to transform this information into a comprehensive, high-level summary of concrete actions Parties can pursue, in accordance with their national circumstances, in the pre-2020 period to increase their ambition and strengthen broad-based international cooperation.

Specifically, the SPM:

  • Highlights key messages for policymakers;
  • Provides a brief overview of the current global state of play of climate change;
  • Identifies good practice policies, initiatives and actions that could be scaled up and replicated by Parties to realize significant mitigation potential in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, carbon capture, use and storage, transport, non-CO2 greenhouse gases (GHGs) and land use. Related adaptation co-benefits are also highlighted;
  • Identifies international organizations and cooperative initiatives1 that can help to support and increase pre-2020 ambition by Parties, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its constituted bodies;
  • Highlights the numerous commitments and actions being taken by non-State actors to address climate change, as well as their vital role in achieving future emission reductions; and
  • Identifies overarching, concrete actions Parties can take now to increase their pre-2020 ambition and further engage non-State actors.

By utilizing the information contained in the SPM, Parties can increase their pre-2020 ambition, further reduce the emissions gap to limit global warming to 2°C, and lay the foundation for post-2020 action.

Key messages for Policymakers
1. Enhanced action is urgently needed as current climate pledges fall short

The pre-2020 emissions pledges made by more than 90 Parties through the Cancun Agreements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) are significant but do not go far enough to limit global warming to 2°C, the upper limit the Parties have agreed upon. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates global emissions of 52–54 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalents (Gt CO2 eq) in 2020, taking into account the Cancun pledges and commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. These estimates are significantly higher than the 2°C-compatible emissions trajectory, resulting in a significant “emissions gap”.

2. Solutions exist to limit warming to 2°C

Failure to close the gap between the current emissions pathways implied by the Parties’ pledges and the 2°C compatible emissions pathways will result in significantly greater climate risks, higher mitigation and adaptation costs and negative impacts on human health and sustainable development. To address the emissions gap, there is a range of policies, measures and actions that Parties could replicate and scale up now as part of their efforts to accelerate pre-2020 mitigation action. This could also lay the foundations for post-2020 action as identified in Parties’ Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted in the context of the new agreement to be adopted in Paris in December 2015. Parties have identified, through the technical examination process under the UNFCCC, six thematic areas with high mitigation potential, opportunities for action and various co-benefits, namely renewable energy, energy efficiency, the urban environment (including transport), carbon capture, use and storage, methane and other non-CO2 GHGs and land use.

3. Leadership and willingness to act are required to overcome barriers to mitigation action

Realizing this mitigation potential and harnessing the multiple co-benefits associated with climate action and sustainable development requires both sustained political will and concerted efforts to overcome a range of financial, technological and capacity-related barriers. Overcoming these barriers will require leadership at the national and international levels, and the cooperation of governments at all levels, working with civil society and private sector actors, with the support of multilateral organizations. Such leadership is also essential to communicate the linkages between climate change, economic growth and sustainable development to encourage immediate action of the necessary scale.

4. Financial support, technology transfer and capacitybuilding at scale are urgently needed

The provision of financial resources, technology transfer and capacity-building support to developing countries is central to achieving significant progress in developing and implementing mitigation actions in all thematic areas. Targeted support at the necessary scale would contribute to efforts by developing countries to implement climate policies, transition to low-carbon economies, build climate resilience and ensure future sustainable development.

5. Cooperative initiatives are essential to mobilize climate action across a range of stakeholders and need to be further promoted

Cooperative initiatives allow Parties and various non-State actors to actively engage one another in efforts to encourage more ambitious climate action at the subnational, national and international levels. In addition, cooperative initiatives help accelerate the development and implementation of low-emission solutions by coordinating efforts among Parties and non-State actors, such as cities, regional authorities and the private sector. To build on the recent mobilization of climate action, such as the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in September 2014 and the Lima-Paris Action Agenda, further promotion and scaling up of cooperative initiatives is essential.

6. The UNFCCC has the potential to play a catalytic role in helping countries overcome barriers and realize their mitigation potential

UNFCCC, through its Technology and Financial Mechanisms, which include the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN), the Technology Executive Committee (TEC), the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), provides essential elements of the overall framework and tools that are urgently needed for delivering finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building to developing countries. In addition, the technical examination process has begun to inspire further ambition by providing a forum for Parties, international organizations, subnational authorities, civil society and the private sector to discuss actions and activities that are transformative, replicable and scalable.

Go to Chapter I