World at a climate-action crossroads
Time is running out to seize opportunities or face potentially disastrous consequences
provincial governments in Canada, Ontario and Quebec to create the world’s second-largest carbon market.
New research conducted by America’s Pledge shows that policies already adopted by US states, cities and businesses will reduce US emissions by 17 percent by 2025 compared with 2005 levels. With additional action by these provincial players, the US could get to within striking distance of its Paris Agreement commitment of reducing emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025.
Major global cities are moving forward with ambitious action as well. Under the Global Covenant of Mayors, more than 1,600 cities have committed to climate action. Together, these cities could reduce emissions equivalent to 1.4 gigatons of carbon in 2030 and 2.8 gigatons in 2050 (compared with business as usu- al). Paris, for example, aims to be carbon neutral and powered completely by renewable energy by 2050. And Copenhagen has a plan to become the first carbon neutral capital by 2025.
Businesses, regions and cities are acting because the economic case for low-carbon economic development is strong and becoming stronger. It can benefit people’s health, improve efficiency and drive innovation. According to research conducted by the New Climate Economy, bold climate action could yield $26 trillion in global economic benefits between now and 2030, compared with business as usual.
But despite these shining points of light, the world is still on a trajectory for global temperature rise that could be catastrophic. National governments need to step up with ambitious policy and investment decisions to accelerate the low-carbon transition.
In recent years, China has been an important player on the global climate stage, especially in helping draft the Paris Agreement. The country set a national target to peak its emissions by 2030, though many experts suggest it could happen earlier. Also, it has invested heavily in renewable energy and electric vehicles and accounts for more than one-third of all electric vehicles in the world, with EV sales expected to surpass 1 million vehicles this year.
But China’s carbon emissions continue to rise and its coal consumption increased in 2017. Also, it should assess its investments in other countries to ensure they are climate-smart and financially sound. By pushing forward its lowcarbon development strategy, China can benefit its own citizens while encouraging other countries to raise their ambition.
With signs of mounting climate impacts — from wildfires in California to record-breaking typhoons in the Pacific — the world must recommit to bold climate action. The economics are clear, and incremental steps will not be sufficient. It’s time for a decisive shift to an innovative and productive low-carbon economy.