Our key takeaway: Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require an enormous acceleration of transformations across all systems this decade.This is the only way to avoid dangerous and irreversible climate impacts ahead of us. However, we are far behind on all of the system-wide transformations needed - whether across power, buildings, industry, transport, forests and land, food and agriculture, as well as with regard to the immediate scale-up of carbon dioxide removal technologies and climate finance. We need to pull out every tool in our toolbox and create new ones: economic incentives, regulations and laws, strong institutions, shifts in behavior, innovations… And last but not least, we need unwavering, courageous leadership. Younger generations and all those to come depend on it.
Bezos Earth Fund, Climate Action Tracker, Climate Analytics, ClimateWorks Foundation, NewClimate Institute, the United Nations Climate Change High-Level Champions, and World Resources Institute have released their ‘State of Climate Action 2022’ (see here for the 2021 summary last year), published under Systems Change Lab. The report “provides an overview of how we are collectively doing in addressing the climate crisis by accelerating the system- wide transformations across power, buildings, industry, transport, forests and land, and food and agriculture, as well as the immediate scale-up of carbon dioxide removal technologies and climate finance, that the IPCC finds are needed to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C”:
- Sobering findings: The report highlights that “during the seven years following the adoption of
the Paris Agreement, GHG emissions have continued to climb”, and describes how climate shocks “are erasing hard-won development gains, from widespread floods across Pakistan to crop-withering droughts in East Africa to extreme storms pummeling coastlines around the world.” “Keeping the Paris Agreement’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C within reach will require an enormous acceleration of transformations across all systems this decade.” These transformations range “from how we grow our food to how we power our lives and transport goods to how we build our cities.” The report “translates these systemwide transformations into 40 indicators of progress with 2030 and 2050 targets to highlight where—and by how much—progress must accelerate to avoid increasingly dangerous climate impacts.” The upshot: “Its findings are sobering. While we are beginning to see some bright spots, none of the 40 indicators of progress spanning the highest-emitting systems, carbon removal, and climate finance are on track to achieve 1.5°C-aligned targets for 2030.”
- Accelerating the transformation: The report delves into the current gaps and what would be needed to close the gaps to enable the systemwide transformations needed. For instance: “efforts to phase out coal generation need to accelerate six-fold, equivalent to retiring 925 average-sized coal plants each year through 2030.” When it comes to deforestation, “[d]eclines in annual deforestation rates need to occur 2.5 times faster, equivalent to stopping deforestation across an area roughly the size of all the arable land in Switzerland every year this decade.” Speaking about food systems, “shifting to healthier, more sustainable diets must occur five times faster by reducing per capita consumption of ruminant meat to roughly two burgers per week across the Americas, Europe, and Oceania.” When it comes to global climate finance which facilitates these transformations, “[r]ecent increases in total global climate finance … need to grow over 10 times faster—by roughly $460 billion every year this decade. This is well below the $726 billion invested in fossil fuels globally in 2020 alone.”
- The road ahead: The report calls for political leadership and global cooperation. “Although there are some signs of progress, the window to limit warming to 1.5°C is rapidly closing, with national 2030 climate commitments, even when fully implemented, leading to roughly 2.4°C to 2.8°C.” “Delivering these transitions on time will require leaders everywhere to employ every tool at their disposal, including economic incentives, regulations and laws, strong institutions, shifts in behavior, innovations, and unwavering, courageous leadership.” “Accelerating just transitions will require greater, more inclusive efforts, substantially more finance, and careful evaluations of impacts on people as change unfolds.” As the report emphasizes: “How we choose to proceed at this crossroads will determine the well-being of today’s younger generations and all those to come.”