On April 20, 2023, President Biden convened the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) for a fourth time to galvanize efforts needed during this critical decade to stem the climate crisis by keeping a 1.5°C limit on warming within reach.
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, People’s Republic of China, Egypt, the European Commission, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Türkiye, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United Nations Secretary-General, and the International Energy Agency Executive Director participated in the virtual meeting.
Special Presidential Envoy for Climate (SPEC) John Kerry opened the meeting by noting the progress made over the last two years toward keeping a 1.5°C limit within reach. He emphasized, at the same time, that the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underscore that there is a need for greater ambition and action during this critical decade and that the window for decisive action is quickly narrowing.
President Biden noted recent domestic actions by the United States to meet its 1.5°C-aligned 2030 emissions target. He called on fellow leaders to “recommit ourselves to action while we still have the time,” inviting them to join the United States in a set of joint efforts targeting four urgent priorities that are critical to keeping 1.5°C within reach: decarbonizing energy, ending deforestation, reducing non-CO2 emissions, and advancing carbon management. He also urged leaders to support strengthened efforts this year to fully leverage the capacity of the multilateral development banks (MDBs) to address global challenges, including climate change.
The President announced that the United States is providing $1 billion to the Green Climate Fund and will request $500 million over five years for the Amazon Fund and related activities in the context of Brazil’s efforts to end deforestation by 2030. He also announced the U.S. is working to invest alongside partners in a private sector-led effort to mobilize an additional $1 billion to help conserve the Amazon and other critical ecosystems in Latin America.
Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, briefed leaders on its new report outlining the four “pillars for action” in the 2020s addressed by President Biden. He made clear that a credible pathway to 1.5°C necessitates strong, immediate action on each of these pillars and stressed that while 1.5°C is still within reach, the world must peak emissions before 2025 and then pursue a rapid trajectory to bring them to zero by mid-century.
Participants spoke to the urgency of addressing the climate crisis during this decade, including through a wide range of intensified efforts related to mitigation, adaptation, and support for developing countries. They stressed the need for accelerating the energy transition across multiple sectors, including by scaling up renewable energy. Participants highlighted the economic opportunities that come along with climate-related efforts and the importance of major economies showing the way. They also recalled the COP 27 outcome in Sharm el-Sheikh, including the decision to establish funding arrangements for loss and damage, including a fund.
Participants announced support for joint efforts targeting the four pillars of action, as well as the urgent need to scale up climate finance from the MDBs (joined in some cases by countries not participating in the MEF meeting):
- Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) – MEF participants Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as Norway, announced a collective zero-emissions vehicles goal that, by 2030, over 50 percent of light-duty vehicles (LDVs) sold globally, and at least 30 percent of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) sold globally, will be ZEVs (battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric, fuel cell electric vehicles, and others), with a view to setting their own national LDV and MHDV market share goals by COP 28. Germany noted the role that carbon neutral e-fuels could play in meeting this goal.
- Decarbonizing Shipping – Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States supported the adoption of 1.5°C-aligned goals for the shipping sector in July 2023 at the International Maritime Organization, including a goal of zero emissions from international shipping no later than 2050.
- Ending Deforestation – MEF participants Australia, the European Union, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as Norway, said they will work together through the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership to coordinate investment and support for ambitious forest, nature, and climate action in forest countries.
- Reducing Methane Emissions – MEF participants Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States, as well as Ireland and Norway, joined in launching the Methane Finance Sprint, which aims to scale up methane finance. This includes mobilizing, by COP 28, at least $200 million in new public and philanthropic support for methane abatement activities, with a view to developing a pipeline of projects. Philanthropies have committed $100 million in new funding through the Global Methane Hub towards the $200 million goal.
- Phasing Down HFCs – Australia, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States expressed support for a robust upcoming replenishment of the Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund to incentivize early action on hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) reductions and to maximize parallel cooling efficiency improvements. The Kigali Amendment will expedite the phasedown of super-polluting HFCs to avoid up to half a degree Celsius of warming by 2100.
- Advancing Carbon Management – MEF participants Australia, Canada, Egypt, the European Union, Japan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, as well as Norway and Denmark, joined in launching a Carbon Management Challenge with the aim of coming forward by COP 28 with concrete announcements to accelerate the development and deployment of carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies. In addition to full-scale mitigation efforts – including accelerated deployment of clean energy, ending deforestation, and cutting non-CO2 emissions – keeping 1.5°C within reach will require broader deployment of CCUS and CDR to deal with emissions that cannot otherwise be avoided.
- Scaling Up MDB Climate Finance – Argentina, Australia, Canada, Egypt, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States support a strengthened effort this year to fully leverage the capacity of the multilateral development banks to address global challenges, including climate change, while also maintaining their focus on poverty reduction and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The multilateral development banks are doing this by expanding their visions, creating the right incentive structures, improving their operational approaches, and increasing their financial capacity.
In addition, participants announced national and regional efforts, and called for further joint efforts, to strengthen climate action, including, for example:
- Brazil reiterated its commitment to reach zero deforestation by 2030 and to reforest 12 million hectares of degraded lands, highlighting the role of the Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Deforestation in the Legal Amazon (PPCDAM) in setting out a framework to help achieve this goal, including by guaranteeing the protection of presently undesignated federal lands. It welcomed global efforts to scale up finance for forests and will review options at the jurisdictional level, including, e.g., the Lowering Emissions by Accelerating Forest finance (LEAF) Coalition, in consultation with local stakeholders, including states. LEAF estimates over $400 million in demand for jurisdictional REDD+ credits from Brazil.
- Canada announced that it intends to reach at least 60% EV sales by 2030 and 100% by 2035 for light-duty vehicles and 100% by 2040 for medium and heavy-duty vehicles. Canada also intends to provide $3.5 million to help Fiji and Samoa reduce methane emissions and achieve their Paris Agreement targets.
- Egypt, the President of COP 27, highlighted that it has joined the Kigali Amendment and intends to update its NDC under the Paris Agreement by June 2023, including a goal of 42% of power from renewable energy by 2030.
- The European Commission proposed a new initiative to develop global targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy by COP 28. It also announced that the EU plans to invest 1 billion Euros by next year towards ending deforestation, including in the Amazon Fund.
- France highlighted that it will host in June a summit on development finance, including in relation to climate.
- Germany called for an ambitious global renewables goal and recalled the establishment last year of an open “Climate Club” for those committed to the ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement to promote decarbonization and complement other climate efforts.
- Indonesia committed to new efforts to minimize methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by identifying opportunities to eliminate routine flaring and venting and controlling methane leaks with international best practice measures, supported by strengthened policy and regulatory action.
- Italy will join other G7 nations and 14 other countries in the “Net-Zero Government Initiative,” committing to achieve net-zero emissions from government operations by no later than 2050.
- Türkiye announced that it plans to launch in 2024 a national strategy on mitigation that will include greenhouse gases beyond CO2, including HFCs.
The United Arab Emirates, the incoming President of COP 28, underscored the imperative for COP 28 to provide a definitive turning point in the fight against the climate crisis. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres stressed the need to rise above political disagreements to confront the climate crisis. He urged an “acceleration agenda” by major emitters and wealthier countries with respect to net zero deadlines, decarbonization of key sectors, and the need to “turbo-charge” climate finance from the multilateral development banks.
In closing remarks, SPEC Kerry reviewed the many positive commitments made, including with respect to the joint initiatives. He noted that several participants had spoken to the importance of following the science and that the major economies had generally “sounded the same alarm bells.” He closed by thanking the participants, stressing that while the 1.5°C aim is “within our grasp,” nations need to summon the necessary political will to achieve it.
- His Excellency Alberto Fernández, President of the Argentine Republic
- The Honourable Anthony Albanese MP, Prime Minister of Australia
- His Excellency Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil
- The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P., Prime Minister of Canada
- His Excellency Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt
- Her Excellency Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
- His Excellency Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
- His Excellency Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia
- His Excellency Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan
- His Excellency Yoon Suk Yeol, President of the Republic of Korea
- The Honorable Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of the United Mexican States
- His Excellency Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of the Republic of Türkiye
- His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi
- The Right Honourable Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., President of the United States of America
- His Excellency António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
- His Excellency Xie Zhenhua, Special Envoy of President Xi Jinping, People’s Republic of China
- Her Excellency Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister for the Energy Transition of the French Republic
- The Honorable Sh. Bhupender Yadav, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change of the Republic of India
- The Honorable Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, Minister for Environment and Energy Security of the Italian Republic
- His Excellency Adel Al-Jubeir, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Member of the Council of Ministers, and Envoy for Climate Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
- Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency