Climate Turning Point: 2020 identified as ‘game-changing’ year for global action

A new report has highlighted 2020 as the year to "bend the curve" on global emissions that can set into a motion a series of transitions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030 and reach net zero carbon by 2050.

The Climate Turning Point report, released today (9 April), was convened by the former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres.

The report highlights than in the next three years, businesses, investors and policy makers need to introduce new actions covering a wide range of sectors to hit key global climate goals. Specifically, the report stresses the need for renewables to outcompete fossil fuels by 2020.

“Everyone has a right to prosper, and if emissions do not begin their rapid decline by 2020, the world’s most vulnerable people will suffer even more from the devastating impacts of climate change,” Figueres said.

“Science tells us this is our imperative, technology shows us we have what it takes, the economics are pointing us in the right direction and the benefits to humanity will be immense. This is no time to waver.”

The report argues that global climate frameworks have lacked a near-term focal point for action, and Figueres enlisted business and policy expertise from the likes of Yale University, Carbon Tracker and Climate Action Tracker to produce short-term targets.

The targets include the assurance that all new mobility in major cities is zero-carbon by 2020, plans are in place to decarbonise city infrastructure, large-scale deforestation is combatted through land restoration and new agricultural practices and that financial investments go beyond $1trn per year for climate action.

With the UK Government announcing that the heavy industry will get £100m exemption from low-carbon levies, the report – launched in London – calls on those in the industry to commit to being “Paris compliant”.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Former Vice President and Chairman of Generation Investment Management Al Gore said: “We must, we can and we will solve the climate crisis. Anchoring our collective efforts around key moments is critical to track our progress and ensure we aim as high as possible.

“We must see global warming pollution decline as rapidly as possible, and declining all the way down to net zero by midcentury, if not sooner. In order to safeguard the future of human civilization, this is the minimum we must achieve — so I am thrilled to see Christiana putting her energy into the challenge of bringing attention to this critical milestone. It will make the world better for us all.”


Warning signs

The report arrives at a critical time for climate action. As global temperatures continue to smash new records, the 2C target of the Paris Agreement is suffering from a lack of commitment.

Alongside the concerns that the US will pull out of the Agreement, new reports have surfaced in recent weeks suggesting that Europe’s major utilities companies are set to overshoot Paris Agreement ‘carbon budget’.

Elsewhere, the Transport & Environment (T&E) and Carbon Market Watch joint study found that only three European countries are on course to achieve the Paris Agreement targets.

Matt Mace

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