In numbers: The major climate ‘U-turns’ needed for a 1.5C world

A major new ‘State of Climate Action’ report has been published this week, revealing that no high-emission sectors are decarbonising rapidly enough to align with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C pathway. Here, edie rounds up the key calls to action in numbers.

In numbers: The major climate ‘U-turns’ needed for a 1.5C world

The report has damning findings on decarbonisation in sectors including agriculture, energy, transport and heavy industry

Published today, the report tracks progress on reducing emissions in sectors that collectively account for some 85% of annual global emissions. Covered in the report are the power, buildings, transport, food and agriculture, forest and land-use and heavy industrial sectors. Also assessed are the flow of finance into decarbonisation and the scaling up of man-made carbon removal and storage technologies.

Across the 40 indicators used, progress was not found to be sufficient in any to align with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory. There are precious few small wins in fields such as electrification in heavy industry, reforestation, and electric vehicle sales.

On five of the indicators, progress was found to be going backward. For example, more miles and a greater portion of miles are being travelled by passenger cars than ever before. The share of unabated gas in electricity production is also increasing, as is the carbon intensity of steel.

The report comes from the Systems Change Lab, which is convened by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Bezos Earth Found. An array of other organisations are also supporting the report, including Climate Action Tracker, the NewClimate Institute and the ClimateWorks Foundation.

The latter’s chief executive and president, Helen Mountford, said: “The disconnect between the massive funding necessary to address the climate crisis and the modest sums that governments have delivered is startling.
“Considering how governments mobilised to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and respond to the energy crisis, it is clear that governments aren’t treating climate change with the urgency it demands. At COP27, nations must commit to increasing finance and investments in the clean economy, boost resilience to climate impacts, and address loss and damage to support the people and communities severely impacted by climate change today.”

With ten days left until COP27 begins, edie rounds up some of this major report’s key findings in numbers, starting with the required U-turns. All figures have a 2030 deadline and 2019 baseline.

  • Total global climate finance flows will need to reach $5.2trn annually. Meeting that increase in finance will require an additional average of some $460bn annually this decade.
  • Fossil fuel subsidies need to be phased out five times more rapidly. Governments collectively provided $400bn of fossil fuel subsidies in 2019 alone.
  • Phasing out unabated coal for electricity generation needs to happen six times faster. This is equivalent to retiring 925 coal-fired power plants each year.
  • The share of zero-carbon sources in electricity generation must increase six times faster.
  • The annual rate of deforestation must be reduced 2.5 times faster, to avoid forests that were once carbon sinks from becoming emitters.
  • Public transport systems must be expanded six times more rapidly.
  • The carbon intensity of cement production must decrease more than 10 times faster.
  • Growth in crop yields must accelerate six-fold.
  • Meat consumption in high-consuming regions and nations must drop by 13%

The report also sets out some causes for celebration, as below:

  • Global solar power generation was 47% higher in 2021 than 2019
  • Global wind generation was 31% higher in 2021 than 2019
  • The global share of electric vehicles in bus sales reached 44% in 2021, a twenty-fold increase within eight years

Nonetheless, progress in all of these areas is not rapid enough. WRI research associate Sophie Boehm said that, where there are signs of progress, they “were nurtuted by strong institutions, supportive policies and strategic investments”. She noted that system-wide learnings in these indicators can, and should, be replicated elsewhere.

The report comes on the same day that the UN released its latest NDC Synthesis Report. The warning from the UNFCCC is that national climate plans are not aligned with the Paris Agreement and, if delivered in full, would still put the world on course for a 2.5C trajectory.

Comments (1)

  1. Ian Byrne says:

    Scary numbers, but probably leading to the conclusion we need to consider adaptation in parallel. Nothing that I have seen about COP27 suggests that enough political leaders have grasped the severity of the problem to drive through the changes desperately needed.

    Typo – It’s the Bezos Energy Fund

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