Emissions: world has four times the work or one-third of the time

In 2010, the world thought it had 30 years to halve global emissions of greenhouse gases. Today, we know that this must happen in ten years to minimize the effects of climate change. Incremental shifts that might once have been sufficient are no longer enough.

There are lessons to be learnt from places such as Costa Rica, Shenzhen in China and Copenhagen that have made strides through the use of renewable energy and electrified transport. The United Kingdom (together with 75 other parties) and California have at least set ambitious goals to become carbon neutral, which might send signals to industry even before supporting policies are implemented. Meanwhile, 26 banks have stopped directly financing new coal-fired power plants.

In this article, Niklas Höhne et al., analyse all ten editions of the Emissions Gap Report produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Each year for the past decade, this report has examined the difference between what countries have pledged to do individually to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and what they need to do collectively to meet agreed temperature goals — the ‘gap’.
The gap is so huge that governments, the private sector and communities need to switch into crisis mode, make their climate pledges more ambitious and focus on early and aggressive action. Otherwise, the Paris agreement’s long-term goals are out of reach. We do not have another ten years.

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