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Leading Businesses, Climate Experts Identify 2020 as Deadline to Mitigate Dangerous Climate Change

Image Credit: University of British Columbia

With 2020 fast approaching, former United Nations Climate Change Chief Christiana Figueres has called on the global community to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

Figueres is joined today in London by a group of leading climate and business experts to launch a campaign highlighting why 2020 is a critical turning point and how it can be achieved. The campaign draws on findings from the report 2020: The Climate Turning Point, which features the most up-to-date scientific basis for urgent action to reduce emissions, as well as a roadmap of action to 2020. The report is the result of a combined effort between Yale University, Carbon Tracker, Climate Action Tracker and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

“We’ve made remarkable progress in fighting climate change. We know the problem and we know the solutions, but we are not out of danger yet,” said Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). “We agreed in Paris to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees. To accomplish this, we must implement solutions urgently and raise the bar of what we think we can do. Seeing emissions start to decline by 2020 is the right ambition to keep our planet safe and healthy.

2020 identifies how a variety of stakeholders including businesses, investors and policymakers can contribute to the following cross-sector achievements by 2020:

  • Energy: Renewables surpass fossil fuels as the predominant source of electricity production.
  • Transport: Zero-emissions transport becomes the preferred form of mobility in major cities and along main transport routes.
  • Infrastructure: Cities and states have developed and begun to implement policies and regulations to decarbonize infrastructure by 2050.
  • Land Use: Large-scale deforestation is replaced by large-scale land restoration and agriculture shifts to earth-friendly practices.
  • Industry: Industries such as iron and steel, cement, chemicals and oil and gas commit to being compliant with the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement.
  • Finance: Over $1 trillion is invested in climate each year and financial institutions have a disclosed transition strategy.  

“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. 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,” said Figueres.

“This is no time to waver. What has been missing since Paris is a near-term focal point for action, which is why we have brought together some of the best minds on the subject to collectively demonstrate that the arc of transformation to a fossil-fuel free energy system is possible. We have a collective responsibility to raise ambition, scale-up our actions and move forward faster together to safeguard the sustainable development goals and protect the inalienable right to life [for] future generations. Let’s not be late.”

Figueres’ call to action seems particularly timely in light of the Trump administration’s recent crackdown on Obama-era environmental policies and regulations, including the rolling back of the Clean Power Plan and approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.  

“Each and every scientific assessment demonstrates that limiting global warming to well below 2°C — as envisaged by the Paris Agreement — can only be achieved if we start decarbonizing the world economy NOW. Geoengineering ourselves out of climate disaster later is nothing more than a dangerous illusion. Yet governments will only pursue aggressive mitigation if they have the full backing of the ‘new businesses’ who put long-term benefits above short-term profits,” said Professor John Schellnhuber, founding director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and chair of the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU).

Libby MacCarthy was previously an Editorial Assistant at Sustainable Brands, based in Toulouse, France. She is a former urban planner specializing in sustainable cities and an urban farming and film photography enthusiast. She holds a BA in Environment, Society and… [Read more about Libby MacCarthy]

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