Photo of Carbon Pricing
Photo credit: UN Partnerships/Pier Paolo Cito
20 September 2023

Putting a price on carbon

Global Leaders Emphasize Carbon Pricing's Crucial Role in Achieving Paris Agreement Goals

The Paris Agreement signifies a global commitment to combat the climate crisis, with the aim of limiting temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Achieving this target requires enhanced international cooperation on decarbonization, including market-based approaches like carbon pricing. 

This event, jointly hosted by the Government of Canada and the UN Office for Partnerships, highlighted the pivotal role of carbon pricing in advancing global climate ambition and decarbonization. 

In the first panel, Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, declared that putting a price on carbon is the only way to keep the Paris Agreement alive. “The average price today is $5 a tonne. It has to go up to 80 USD a tonne by 2030. We propose to create a carbon-price floor. This is very pragmatic. My call to everybody is take this shot, put a price on carbon!”

The catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis were underlined by Jason Brolund, Fire Chief of West Kelowna in British Columbia, Canada. He recalled his experiences tackling the wildfires in his country. “We were surrounded by fire, wind was driving it down on us, the sky was orange. Five weeks ago, my community was devastated. It was like fighting a hundred years of fire all in one night. How did this happen to us?”

Assistant Halifax Fire Chief Sherry Dean described the effects of Hurricane Fiona, which hit her region a year ago. “More than 60 per cent of Nova Scotia residents was affected. More than 16,000 were evacuated immediately. 235 Square Kilometres of forests were lost. It is sad to know that there are still people and industries questioning the impacts of the climate emergency”.

Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, praised the work of his country’s firefighters, and called for world leaders to show more climate ambition. “We all know that pollution has a cost. Together, we can make sure that pollution has a price, too. Let's keep taking action and, as leaders, let's be inspired by the courage with which firefighters like these show up to work every single day”.

Selwin Hart, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Action, praised Canada’s status as a “first mover and doer” on climate action, which earned the country an invite to the Secretary-General’s Climate Ambition Summit. 

“It is never easy to be a first mover while others hide behind,” said Mr. Hart. We hope you will encourage others to move together, especially from the Global South”.

Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, and Co-Chair of UN-Energy, said that carbon pricing is a powerful tool to combat climate change, but also for development. “We cannot ignore disparities in carbon pricing mechanisms around the world. African carbon credits have the potential not only to support marginalized groups, but to pave the way for a just energy transition over the continent”. 

In the second panel, Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), expressed support for carbon pricing, but pointed out that it needs to happen at the right time and at the right level. “In 2005, about five per cent of the global emissions was covered by carbon pricing. Today, about one fourth of global emissions are covered by carbon pricing, but there is also one trillion dollars of incentives to fossil fuels. We have two jobs: one put a carbon price, and second, reduce the fossil fuel subsidies”.

Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for the European Green deal at the European Commission; Andrew Mitchell, the Minister for Development of the United Kingdom; Jean-Luc Assi, Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development of Cote d'Ivoire; Espen Barth Eide, Minister for Climate and Environment of Norway; and Nicolai Wammen, Minister for Finance of Denmark, all expressed their support for the Global Carbon Pricing Initiative, a Canadian-led call for all countries to adopt pollution pricing as a central part of their climate strategies.

Watch the session [HERE

See more photos [HERE]