Oct 30, 2020
Publisher: Carbon Tracker
In 2015, more than 190 nations and many thousands of non-state actors jointly resolved to safeguard and strengthen the social, environmental and economic fabric of life on our shared planet. Together we committed to manifesting a more prosperous, resilient and equitable world in 2030, and set a 1.5-2°C temperature rise limit, which fundamentally underpins this better world.
We must now act with great urgency to fulfill our shared commitment. If we are to be successful, greenhouse gas emissions must begin their steady decline by 2020. Bending the curve of emissions any later will all but eliminate our chance to stay within 1.5°C and move the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals beyond our reach. Given the stakes, failure is simply not an option.
What this moment of history demands of us is not a burden; it is a tremendous opportunity. By rising to the challenge, we can create more resilient, secure and fulfilling livelihoods; enjoy access to cleaner air and water, vital to our health; live in better buildings and more livable cities; spur innovation and improve our resource efficiency, creating new jobs, economic opportunities and growth; and regenerate the extraordinary ecosystems that make our planet rich. The intrinsic value of these benefits extends beyond economic metrics but, by 2050, efforts to slow climate change could make us $19 trillion richer in that sense too1.
The evidence that a 2020 climate turning point is within our grasp is growing every day. Global CO2 emissions have already plateaued, and are expected to remain flat over the coming years thanks, in no small part, to China’s economic transformation, as well as the exponential growth in renewables worldwide. There are many signs that an irreversible direction of travel has been set: investment shifts, technology breakthroughs and cost reductions, a deepening understanding of eco-system services, resilient business and government leadership, as well as a staggering upsurge of citizen activism - all indicate that change is inevitable.
But when it comes to climate, timing is everything and we need to step-up the pace of change, accelerating a rapid drawdown in global emissions by 2020. Our shared mission is to ensure 6 critical milestones are met by 2020:
1. Renewables outcompete fossil fuels as new electricity sources worldwide
2. Zero emissions transport is the preferred form of all new mobility in the world’s major cities and transport routes
3. Large-scale deforestation is replaced with large-scale land restoration, and agriculture shifts to earth-friendly practices
4. Heavy industry - including iron & steel, cement, chemicals and oil & gas - commits to being Paris compliant
5. Cities and states are implementing policies and regulations to fully decarbonize buildings and infrastructure by 2050
6. Investment in climate action is beyond USD $1 trillion per year and all financial institutions have a disclosed transition strategy
Just as the Paris Agreement was a deeply shared endeavor, so delivering on its promise must be too. Our success in Paris was not an accident; it was the result of us rallying behind a common strategy, and abandoning resignation for a can-do attitude that accepted this challenge as our own. In this next phase, we will need to come together once again. Meeting these 6 milestones will not be easy, and we will need to support each other along the way to ensure the transition is just and equitable. But just as we delivered success in Paris, so we can deliver the 2020 climate turning point too. This is our moment. This is our great opportunity.