UN Climate Action Award Winners Offer Leadership, New Ideas

BONN, Germany, October 11, 2021 (ENS) – Ahead of the pivotal United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 26, in Glasgow in November, winners of the 10th anniversary UN Global Climate Action Awards are shining light on innovative ways of combating climate change.

From solar power for Gaza, to Microsoft’s carbon removal, to Paris’ zero emissions goal, this year’s 11 award-winning projects demonstrate leadership on climate change by nations, businesses, investors, cities, regions and civil society as a whole.

They range from the world’s first renewable island community in Denmark, to the leading debt-financing provider for distributed solar energy in Africa, to a London-based fashion house focused on environmentally, ethically and socially conscious style for a sustainable future.

Other winning activities include a UK crowdfunding platform enabling people to support home solar in Sub-Saharan Africa, and Mexico’s first metropolitan-level climate action plan.

“This past year, we have seen deadly wildfires and floods in many parts of the world,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. “The report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in August rang the alarm bells, showing that the world is warming faster than scientists previously thought.

And the new synthesis report of national climate action plans, known as NDCs, released recently confirmed that “we are moving in the wrong direction,” Espinosa said. The report includes NDC information from all 191 Parties to the Paris Agreement.

The report shows that the NDCs of all 191 Parties taken together imply a sizable increase in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 compared to 2010, of about 16 percent. According to the latest IPCC findings, such an increase, unless actions are taken immediately, may lead to a temperature rise of about 2.7°C by the end of the century.

“We urgently require solutions and actions from everyone: public and private sectors, civil society, academia, investors, cities and regions,” Espinosa said. The winners of the 2021 UN Global Climate Action Awards provide tangible proof that solutions to tackle the climate crisis exist and that they can be replicated and quickly scaled up.”

The annual climate awards program, run by United Nations Climate Change since 2011, recognizes the world’s most innovative, scalable and replicable examples of action to tackle climate change.

The projects are recognized as solutions that not only address climate change, but also help drive forward progress on many other sustainable development goals, for example, innovation, gender equality and economic opportunity.

A special new award category called Climate Leaders was added for 2021. It recognizes transformational and replicable government action at any level – national, regional, city, or community.

The 11 award-winning projects fall within three focus areas: Climate Neutral Now, Financing for Climate Friendly Investment and Climate Leaders. The 2021 winners are:

Climate Neutral Now:

Microsoft | Global: Carbon neutral since 2012, Microsoft is now committing to remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975 by 2050.

Taylors of Harrogate | United Kingdom: An independent family tea and coffee business whose carbon neutral product certification is from ‘field to supermarket shelf’ accounting for all the emissions from cultivating, processing and shipping its tea and coffee.

ICA Gruppen | Sweden: Sweden’s leading food retailer is going beyond climate neutrality to achieving a net zero impact from the Group’s own operations by 2030 and cutting the climate impact from customers’ grocery purchases in half by 2030.

House of Baukjen | United Kingdom: A London-based fashion house whose business and operations follow in every way the circular economy ideal, from production to materials being cycled, and does so while being carbon negative.

Financing for Climate Friendly Investment:

SunFunder | Africa: The leading debt-financing provider for distributed solar in Africa and other emerging regions, bringing access to energy and long-term climate investments. To date, it has closed over USD 150 million in loans to 57 solar companies.

Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance | Multi-regional: The Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance network accelerates well-designed financial instruments that can unlock billions towards a sustainable, inclusive, net zero economy, while also reducing private investors’ risks.

Energise Africa | Africa: A UK crowdfunding platform enabling people to support renewable energy projects (home solar) in Sub-Saharan Africa. To date, it has raised over £25 million in investments from everyday people putting their money to work for climate action and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Self-reliance & Solar in the West Bank & Gaza | State of Palestine: The first private sector investments in domestic power supply to help jump-start renewables and support economic development in the West Bank and Gaza, supported by the International Finance Corporation.

Climate Leaders:

City of Paris | France: By 2050, the City of Paris aims to reduce local emissions by 100 percent, achieving the goal of zero emissions in Paris, promoting an 80 percent reduction in the carbon footprint of Paris compared to 2004 levels.

Samsø | Denmark: Denmark’s municipality of the island of Samsø has completely transformed its energy system from fossil fuels to renewable energy, becoming the world’s first renewable energy island.

Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara | Mexico: The Metropolitan Area of Guadalajara Climate Action Plan, launched at the end of 2020, is the first instrument of its kind, built on a metropolitan scale in Mexico and within the C40 Cities Network.

The 2021 winning activities were selected by UN Climate Change’s international Advisory Panel.

“Everyone has a role to play when it comes to confronting the climate crisis,” said Gabrielle Ginér, a sustainability expert with the giant telecommunications company BT who chairs the Advisory Panel. “The recipients of the UN Global Climate Action Awards are stepping up with the kind of bold and courageous leadership we need to see much more of to avoid the ever-worsening impacts of climate change.”

All winning projects will be showcased during a series of special events and an Award Ceremony during the second week of COP 26 in November.

Featured image: The International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank, helped Gaza’s biggest business park, the Gaza Industrial Estate, install solar panels on the roofs of several of its buildings. The solar panels form the largest solar array in the West Bank and Gaza and produce 10 gigawatt hours of cheap, green electricity per year that power the industrial park’s 32 businesses and feed power to Gaza’s grid.

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