As the clocks strike midnight on 31 December 2016, Portugal’s ex-Prime Minister Antonio Guterres (above) will become the ninth secretary general of the United Nations, taking over from Ban Ki-moon. From the ongoing conflict in Syria and across the Middle East to the need to deliver the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and protect the Paris climate deal, he’ll be a busy man.
Clean energy fans meet in Abu Dhabi 14-15 January for the annual International Renewable Energy Agency assembly, a chance to take stock of investments in low carbon power through 2016 and explore how these can be ramped up in 2017. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, investment in clean energy rose 4% in 2015, up to US$329 billion.
World leaders, CEOs and charity chiefs will be among those in Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum from the 17-20th. Bank of England governor Mark Carney is slated to be hosting a roundtable on climate change and risk.
At 1700 local time in Washington DC on the 20th Donald Trump will take his oath of office and become president of the United States. During the campaign he threatened to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement as soon as he was in the Oval Office, so keep your eyes peeled on Twitter on the 21st.
It’s a critical year for the European Union to start delivering its 2030 climate and energy package, while tackling Brexit negotiations. By the end of 2017, the Commission says it will present a “comprehensive package aimed at managing the modernisation of the economy by placing energy efficiency first, pursuing the ambition to become world number one in renewable energies and providing a fair deal to consumers”.
The first of the year’s three major European general elections takes place in the Netherlands on the 15th amid fears the far right populist candidate Geert Wilders will gain ground. Coincidentally, his party thinks climate change is a load of bunkum.
Hong Kong elects a new chief executive on the 26th – a big test of the territory’s autonomy and of global powers like the UK and EU, who have long called for China to respect its limited democracy.
UK prime minister Theresa May is expected to trigger Article 50 by the end of the month, starting a two-year set of negotiations for the country to leave the EU. We’re also expecting Downing Street to release its plans to reduce carbon emissions through 2030 in March.
Sustainable Development Goals: remember them? Talks on how they will be financed resume at UN HQ in New York on the 4th.
G7 energy ministers meet in Rome from the 9-10th to discuss energy security, renewables, efficiency, gas markets and innovation.
Leading development banks, financial leaders and economists will keep a close eye on the IMF and World Bank spring meetings from the 21-23rd in Washington DC. They’ll also be a test of Donald Trump’s desire to limit US overseas aid.
Expect fireworks in France as round one of the presidential election kicks off on the 23rd. Current president Francois Hollande will not be standing, leaving Conservative Francois Fillon, Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front and an as-yet unknown Socialist candidate to run.
— Climate Home (@ClimateHome) December 28, 2016
Round #2 of the French elections takes place on the 7th. Climate doubter Le Pen also wants to take down the EU, and should gain significant support, say pollsters.
UN talks on delivering the Paris climate agreement run from the 8-18th in Bonn, Germany, as diplomats work on the technical aspects of the greenhouse gas cutting deal. Will we see any US envoys in the former West German capital? What role will they play?
Iran’s presidential elections take place on the 19th, while OPEC hosts its annual gathering on the 25th. The two are connected: Iran’s pledge to limit oil production to 3.8 million barrels a day was a key element of the oil-exporting bloc’s new plan to boost oil prices, but came under intense pressure from regional competitor Saudi Arabia.
From the 26-27th we’ll see how Donald Trump fares in a multilateral setting, as he takes part in his first G7 meeting. The venue is Sicily – which reminds me of Ted Cruz’s election campaign jibe at Trump: “Donald needs to understand he’s not Michael Corleone”.
China hosts the Clean Energy Ministerial from 6-8th, one of those multilateral meetings that the incoming Trump administration say they may avoid. The forum has proved useful in recent years in galvanising support for low carbon technology among major powers.
Also in June, the Financial Stability Board taskforce on climate-related financial disclosures will report back on plans to ensure companies are more transparent on the risk they face from global warming. Here’s a backgrounder to that study, which will be open to consultation through January and February.
Hamburg, Germany plays host to the G20 on the 7th. German chancellor Angela Merkel says she’ll make climate change a priority, which could cause tensions with the Donald. Also a chance to see how his relations with China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and India’s Narendra Modi are cooking.
In New York, the UN hosts a High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development from 10-19th.
…is the quiet month diplomatically. But it’s also the last chance to see Jamaican sprint legend Usain Bolt on the track, competing in the World Athletics Championships from 4-13th in London.
Guterres hosts his first General Assembly at UNHQ in New York, which kicks off on the 12th.
But it’s month that will be defined by the future of one country, and one woman: Angela Merkel faces her destiny as Germany’s chancellor at the polls. We’re hearing a date between 17-24 is likely.
The UN will host a desertification summit from 2-13th (Great Green Wall anyone?) while the IMF and World Bank annual meetings take place from the 13-15th.
There’s also a less obvious leadership transition due to take place, as half of China’s powerful 18-member Politburo will be replaced. Of those, 5 of the 7 supreme Politburo Standing Committee will be new places, leaving President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang as the veterans.
Fiji hosts the 23rd UN Conference of the Parties from the 6-17th. Don’t bother with the sun cream or swimming trunks. It will be in Bonn, Germany.
Also: expect the World Meterological Organization to release its climate analysis for 2016 and the UN Environment Programme to deliver its assessment of global emission trends.
The UN Environment Assembly takes place from the 4-6th in Nairobi, Kenya. A key theme for the summit is ‘Pollution free planet: delivering a deal to detoxify the world’ – more details here.