Action is needed across all sectors to limit global warming to 1.5 ̊C

global warming

While many countries, cities, regions, companies and financial institutions have adopted more ambitious commitments to fight the climate crisis, significantly more action across all sectors is needed this decade to keep the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C within reach, according to Systems Change Lab’s flagship report, ‘State of Climate Action 2022‘.

The report analysed recent progress made in accelerating climate action across sectors that collectively account for roughly 85 per cent of global GHG emissions (power, buildings, industry, transport, forests and land, and food and agriculture) and in scaling up carbon removal technologies and climate finance. It then quantified the global gap in climate action by comparing current efforts to those required by 2030 and 2050 to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Of the 40 indicators assessed, none are on track to achieve their 2030 targets. Instead, six are ‘off track’, moving in the right direction at a promising but insufficient speed; 21 are ‘well off track’, heading in the right direction but well below the required pace; five are headed in the wrong direction entirely; and eight have insufficient data to track progress.

“This year, the world has seen the devastation wrought by just 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming. Every fraction of a degree matters in the fight to protect people and the planet. We are seeing important advances in the fight against climate change — but we are still not winning in any sector,” said Ani Dasgupta, President and CEO, World Resources Institute. “The State of Climate Action 2022 is an urgent wake up call for decision-makers to commit to real transformation across every aspect of our economy.”

Despite lagging progress overall, the report does point to some encouraging signs. The adoption of zero-carbon power sources, including renewables like solar and wind power, is on the rise across the world, with recent years witnessing record-breaking growth in uptake of these technologies. From 2019 to 2021, for example, solar generation grew by 47 per cent and wind by 31 per cent.

The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is also taking off, with EVs accounting for almost nine per cent of passenger car sales in 2021 — a doubling from the year before. And the global share of battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles in buses sales reached 44 per cent in 2021, growing from just two percent in 2013 — an increase of over 20 times in under a decade.

“Increasingly rapid uptake of zero-carbon technologies like renewables and electric vehicles show us that exponential change is possible when decision-makers deploy the many tools at their disposal to accelerate the transition to a net-zero future,” said Nigel Topping, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion. “And with the right support, other nascent technologies, from green hydrogen to zero-emission fuel for shipping, could soon take off.”

“Despite the huge growth in both wind and solar capacity over the past 20 years, renewables have not kept pace with growing demand for power,” said Niklas Höhne, NewClimate Institute. “To decarbonise society, the share of zero-carbon sources in electricity generation must accelerate exponentially to tackle the climate crisis. This can only be achieved with a commensurate and rapid phase out of fossil power.”

For the 21 indicators categorised in the report as ‘well off track’, recent rates of historical change need to accelerate at least two times faster to achieve their 2030 targets. For example, the report finds that to keep 1.5°C within reach, we must phase out unabated coal in electricity generation six times faster — equivalent to retiring roughly 925 average-sized coal-fired power plants annually, expand public transportation systems like metros, light-rail trains, and bus rapid transit networks six times faster, and lower the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per metric ton of cement produced over ten times faster.

“At this moment, we have never had more information about the gravity of the climate emergency and its cascading impacts, but we have also never known more about what we need to do to reduce these intensifying risks,” said Sophie Boehm, a research associate at World Resources Institute and lead author of the report. “The encouraging signs of progress that we are beginning to see did not materialise on their own. They were nurtured by strong institutions, supportive policies, and strategic investments — all of which will be needed this decade to keep 1.5°C within reach.”

Achieving targets across those sectors which are trending on the wrong direction (including the share of unabated fossil gas in electricity generation, the carbon intensity of global steel production, the percentage of kilometres travelled in passenger cars, mangrove loss, and GHG emissions from agricultural production) requires substantial increases in climate finance as well as for the financial system to stop underwriting many carbon-intensive industries. ‘State of Climate Action 2022’ finds that total global climate finance needs to increase more than ten times faster to reach $5.2 trillion per year by 2030 — equivalent to increasing flows by an average of roughly $460 billion per year this decade. At the same time, public financing of fossil fuels, including subsidies, need to be phased out five times more quickly.

“The disconnect between the massive funding necessary to address the climate crisis and the modest sums that governments have delivered is startling,” said Helen Mountford, President and CEO, ClimateWorks Foundation. “Considering how governments mobilised to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and respond to the energy crisis, it is clear that governments are not 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.”

Others have also viewed

UK’s energy supply needs over £900 billion investment to reach net zero by 2050

The UK’s energy supply could require more than £900 billion in capital expenditure to achieve ...

DFC and Shell Foundation to support distributed renewable energy solutions in emerging markets

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Shell Foundation, the U.K.-registered charity supporting energy ...

e-STORAGE to deliver 226 MWh DC of battery storage projects to ENGIE 

Canadian Solar’s majority-owned e-STORAGE will deliver 226 MWh DC of turnkey energy storage solutions to ...

COP28: NewLink’s pollution reduction project sets benchmarks

The Center for Environmental Education and Communications of Ministry of Ecology and Environment and Energy ...