Close to fifty of the world’s nations that are most vulnerable to climate change, including some of the world’s poorest, have pledged they will strive to generate 100 percent of their energy from renewable energy.
In an urgent bid to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, the group of 48 nations known as the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) said in a joint communiqué from their meeting in Morocco that they would update their climate action plans in line with last year’s Paris climate agreement, and come up with low-carbon strategies before 2020.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised the CVF, which includes the Philippines, Nepal, the Maldives, Costa Rica, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Tuvalu, and Madagascar, for leading the world "towards a ... climate-resilient future."
"This is the type of bold leadership by example the world needs right now on climate change. If countries that have done the least to cause climate change can take such strong steps, so can others. We need action by all, on behalf of all," Secretary Ban said.
The move is a bold one, when some of the world’s biggest and wealthiest nations have balked at setting radical climate goals.
Edgar Gutiérrez, Costa Rica’s environment and energy minister, whose country is aiming to be a carbon-neutral economy by 2021, said all nations should start moving toward 100 percent renewable energy and carbon neutrality, "otherwise we will all suffer."
Still, some CVF nations pointed to steep financial challenges they would face in meeting their climate targets. The $100 billion that richer countries have pledged by 2020, as part of the Paris agreement, is "a minimum that can be surpassed through concerted international collaboration," the forum said.
At the Morocco talks, some wealthier nations were unwilling to make concrete commitments to increase funding.
The lack of funding could hamper the efforts of nations like the Philippines, which obtained 45 percent of its energy from coal-fired power last year, and currently has plans for 20 new coal power plants.
However, Evelyn Cruzada, the Philippines' cabinet secretary, flagged a strong desire to see her country push forward on mitigating climate change, pointing out that two of regions on the island were already using wind energy and that solar is expanding.
"More than 1.5 degrees will destroy possibilities for a decent quality of life," she warned. "We must not build an economy based on suffering," she said.
This report contains material from Reuters.