A how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb
The climate time-bomb is ticking.
But the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a how-to guide to defuse that time bomb.
Humans are responsible for virtually all global heating over the last 200 years and concentrations of carbon dioxide are at their highest in at least two million years.
Yet, the IPCC shows that we have never been better equipped to solve the climate challenge.
But we must move into warp speed climate action now.
The 1.5-degree limit of global warming agreed in the Paris Agreement is achievable, but it will take a quantum leap. Every country and every sector must massively fast-track climate efforts.
We need climate action on all fronts - everything, everywhere, all at once.
I am suggesting an Acceleration Agenda to super-charge these efforts.
We need to immediately hit the fast-forward button on net zero deadlines to get to global net zero by 2050.
Leaders of developed countries must commit to reaching net zero as close as possible to 2040. This can be done; some have already set a target as early as 2035.
Leaders in emerging economies must commit to reaching net zero as close as possible to 2050 – again, the limit they should all aim to respect.
Every country must be part of the solution. Demanding that others move first only ensures humanity comes last.
The Acceleration Agenda calls for a number of other actions:
- No new coal and the phasing out of existing coal by 2030 in member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and 2040 in all other countries.
- Ending all international public and private funding of coal.
- Ensuring net zero electricity generation by 2035 for all developed economies and 2040 for the rest of the world.
- Ceasing all licensing or funding of new oil and gas.
- Stopping any expansion of existing oil and gas reserves.
- Shifting subsidies from fossil fuels to a just energy transition.
- Establishing a global phase down of existing oil and gas production compatible with the 2050 global net zero target.
We must also speed-up efforts to deliver climate justice to those on the frontlines of many crises – none of which they caused. We can do this by:
- Safeguarding the most vulnerable communities and scaling up finance and capacities for adaptation and loss and damage.
- Promoting reforms to ensure Multilateral Development Banks provide more grants and concessional loans and fully mobilize private finance.
- Delivering on the financial commitments made in Copenhagen, Paris and Glasgow.
- Replenishing the Green Climate Fund this year and developing a roadmap to double adaptation finance before 2025.
- Protecting everyone with early warning systems against natural disasters in four years.
- Implementing the new loss and damage fund this year.
The longer we wait on any of these crucial issues, the harder it will become.
We don’t have a moment to lose.
By António Guterres, UN Secretary-General