Feature Report: The Challenges of Applying the Paris Agreement

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Non-State Actors Increasingly Active

Cities, regions, major companies and NGOs are all stepping up their initiatives at the global level to implement the Paris Agreement signed at COP21 in December 2015. This growing contribution from representatives of civil society has been recognized by both States and the United Nations as a key factor to the success of any action to fight climate change.

Image of an Autolib 'station in Paris.
Big cities are stepping up their emissions reduction initiatives. This photo shows the Autolib' electric car sharing service in Paris. ©AFP

Three weeks after COP23 in Bonn, a new kind of event known as the One Planet Summit was organized by French President Emmanuel Macron, the World Bank and the United Nations on December 12, 2017 in Paris to mark the second anniversary of the Paris AgreementOil contract under which the oil that is produced is shared between the state and the oil company... . The event attests to the growing importance of non-State actors, especially major companies and megacities around the world. This trend is set to grow, as demonstrated by the convening of a Global Climate Action Summit, which will bring together thousands of city representatives, businesses, scientists and citizens in September 2018 in San Francisco.

85: The membership of the C40 megacities movement (despite its name).

Investor and Corporate Coalitions

The One Planet Summit, which may be repeated in 2018, focused on “green finance”, that is, financial support for emerging economies from wealthy countries. A major outcome of this summit was the expansion of coalitions between investors and large industrial groups aimed at reorienting financing toward projects involving the transition to other sources of energy.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition1, created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has committed to speeding up the marketing of new technologies in areas such as energy storage, smart grids, construction materials and geothermalDescribes the technology used to tap subsurface heat to produce energy... energy.

More than 230 companies from 29 countries support the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)2 launched by the wealthy businessman and former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. The TCFD establishes a set of transparency rules for industrial groups to comply with so that investment funds and banks can make informed choices.

At the same time, initiatives have been taken to reduce fossil fuelFuel is any solid, liquid or gaseous substance or material that can be combined with an oxidant... investments. The World Bank intends to cease its financing of this type of energy after 2019, with the potential exception of a few gas projects in poor countries. Some twenty national and regional development banks as well as the largest sovereign wealth funds, including those of Norway, the Gulf States and New Zealand, have decided to work together toward the same objective. Additionally, 225 major institutional investors have committed to putting pressure on the 100 listed companies emitting the most greenhouse gas (ghg) Gas with physical properties that cause the Earth's atmosphere to warm up. There are a number of naturally occurring greenhouse gases... .

C40 actually comprises 85 cities, which together represent 650 million citizens.

Organization Among Major Cities 

Cities are also networking within associations aimed at harmonizing greenhouse gas emissions standards and data, pooling best practices, disseminating information and putting pressure on governments, investors and businesses.

The Compact of Mayors is a coalition bringing together the world's three biggest networks of cities: C40, UCLG and ICLEI. The Compact was launched at the September 2014 climate summit in New York organized by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

C403 represents megacities. It was founded in October 2005 by Ken Livingstone, then Labour Mayor of London, and initially brought together representatives of 18 major cities. This number quickly grew to 40, giving the network its name, and has since expanded to 85 members. According to C40, the network's members represent 650 million people who generate 25% of global GDP. In July 2016, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected to a three‑year term as C40 Chair, following in the footsteps of Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, and Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York City. C40 receives funding from several foundations, including Michael Bloomberg's Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Clinton Foundation, set up by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his family.

UCLG (United Cities and Local Governments)4 was founded in May 2004 as the world's main city twinning body. Present in 136 countries, it represents local authorities worldwide in their dealings with international organizations.

ICLEI (Local Governments for SustainabilitySustainability indicates a state that is sustainable or reasonably manageable over the long term. )5 is a network of more than 1,000 local governments worldwide.

One of the main aims of the Compact of Mayors is to combine the programs and commitments of all levels and provide regular, transparent information on emissions reduction efforts via the carbonn Climate Registry (cCR)6, a shared platform where local governments can register their climate data.


(1) See the website

(2) See the website

(3) C40 website

(4) UCLG website

(5) ICLEI website

(6) Carbonn Climate Registry